iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Le Morte d'Arthur

Listen now 43 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Le Morte d'Arthur

43 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 10 January 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Thomas Malory's "Le Morte Darthur", the epic tale of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. Sir Thomas Malory was a knight from Warwickshire, a respectable country gentleman and MP in the 1440s who later turned to a life of crime and spent various spells in prison. It was during Malory's final incarceration that he wrote "Le Morte Darthur", an epic work which was based primarily on French, but also some English, sources.

Malory died shortly after his release in 1470 and it was to be another fifteen years before "Le Morte Darthur" was published by William Caxton, to immediate popular acclaim. Although the book fell from favour in the seventeenth century, it was revived again in Victorian times and became an inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite movement who were entranced by the chivalric and romantic world that Malory portrayed.

The Arthurian legend is one of the most enduring and popular in western literature and its characters - Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Merlin and King Arthur himself, are as well-known today as they were then; and the book's themes - chivalry, betrayal, love and honour - remain as compelling.


Helen Cooper
Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge

Helen Fulton
Professor of Medieval Literature and Head of Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York

Laura Ashe
CUF Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow at Worcester College at the University of Oxford

Producer: Natalia Fernandez.


    Professor Helen Cooper at Cambridge University


    Professor Helen Fulton at York University


    Dr Laura Ashe at Oxford University


    Stanzaic Morte Arthure And Alliterative Morte Arthure: Introduction


    Morte D’Arthur to read online – Project Gutenburg


    Morte D’Arthur at the British Library





    Elizabeth Archibald (ed.), ‘The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend’ (Cambridge University Press, 2009)


    Elizabeth Archibald and A. S. G. Edwards (eds), ‘A Companion to Malory’ (Boydell and Brewer, 1996)


    Richard Barber, ‘Legends of Arthur’ (Boydell Press, 2001)

    W. R. J. Barron, ‘The Arthur of the English: the Arthurian legend in medieval English life and literature’ (Cardiff, 2001)


    Catherine Batt, ‘Malory’s Morte Darthur: Remaking Arthurian Traditions’ (Palgrave, 2001)


    Larry D. Benson, ‘Malory’s Morte Darthur’ (Harvard University Press, 1976)


    Helen Cooper (ed.), ‘Malory, Le Morte Darthur’ (Oxford University Press, 2008)


    P. J. C. Field, ‘The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory’ (Boydell and Brewer, 1999)


    Laurie Finke and Martin Shichtman (eds), ‘King Arthur and the Myth of History’ (University Press of Florida, 2004)


    Helen Fulton (ed.), ‘A Companion to Arthurian Literature’  (Wiley Blackwell, 2009)


    Christina Hardyment, ‘Malory: The Knight Who Became King Arthur's Chronicler’ (Harper Perennial, 2007)


    E.D. Kennedy, ‘King Arthur: A Casebook’ (Routledge, 2002)


    Alan Lupack, ‘Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend’ (Oxford University Press, 2007)


    Sir Thomas Malory (ed. Janet Cowen), ‘Le Morte D’Arthur’ (Penguin Classics, 1970) 


    Derek Pearsall, ‘Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction’ (Blackwell, 2003)


    Martin Shichtman and James Carley (eds), ‘Culture and the King: The Social Implications of the Arthurian Legend’ (State University of New York Press, 1994)


    Eugene Vinaver (ed.), ‘Malory: Works’ (Oxford University Press, 1977)










Featured in...

  • Culture archive

    Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.

  • Medieval

    Browse the Medieval era within the In Our Time archive.

In Our Time Downloads


Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.


  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss