T. H. White


T. H. White

Infobox Writer
name =T. H. White


caption =
birthdate = birth date|1906|5|29|df=y
birthplace = Bombay, India
deathdate = death date and age|1964|1|17|1906|5|29|df=y
deathplace = Piraeus, Athens
occupation = Writer
genre = Fantasy
movement =
influences = Thomas Malory, J. R. R. Tolkien [cite book |last=Attebery |first=Brian|authorlink=Brian Attebery|title=The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin |year=1980 |publisher=Indiana University |location=Bloomington |isbn= 0-2533-5665-2]
influenced = Gregory Maguire, Ed McBain, Michael Moorcock, J. K. Rowling
website =

Terence Hanbury White (29 May 1906–17 January 1964) was an English author best known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, "The Once and Future King", first published together in 1958.

Biography

White was born in Bombay, India, the son of Garrick Hansbury White, an Indian police superintendent, and Constance White. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10B15FD3E5415738DDDA10994D9405B848AF1D3&scp=1&sq=%22t.+h.+white+dead%22&st=p "T. H. White Dead; Novelist was 57"] (fee required), The New York Times, 1964-01-18. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] Terence White had a discordant childhood, with an alcoholic father and an emotionally frigid mother, and his parents separated when Terence was fourteen.Craig, Patricia. "Lives and letters," The Times Literary Supplement, 1989-04-07. p. 362.] Annan, Noel. [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/11506 "Character: "The White-Garnett Letters" and "T. H. White"] (book review), The New York Review of Books 11.8, 1968-11-07. Retrieved on 2008-02-13.] White went to Cheltenham College, a public school, and Queens' College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by the scholar and occasional author L. J. Potts. Potts became a lifelong friend and correspondent, and White later referred to him as "the great literary influence in my life." While at Queens' College, White wrote a thesis on Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur" (without reading it),cite book |last=Gallix |first=Francois, ed|title=Letters to a Friend: The Correspondence Between T. H. White and L. J. Potts |year=1982 |publisher=G. P. Putnam's Sons |location=New York |isbn= 0-3991-2693-7 p. 93-95. (Reprinted [http://lettersoftheday.blogspot.com/2007/10/s-word-s-tone.html here] .)] and graduated in 1928 with a first-class degree in English.

White then taught at Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, for four years. In 1936 he published "England Have My Bones", a well-received memoir about a year spent in England. The same year, he left Stowe and lived in a workman's cottage, where he wrote and "revert [ed] to a feral state", engaging in falconry, hunting, and fishing.Allen, Walter. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0F16F93F5F127A93C3AB178FD85F4C8685F9&scp=1&sq=%22lucky+in+art%22+AND+%22t.+h.+white%22&st=p "Lucky In Art Unlucky In Life"] (fee required), The New York Times, 1968-04-21. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] White also became interested in aviation, partly to conquer his fear of heights.Fact|date=February 2008 White wrote to a friend that in autumn 1937, "I got desperate among my books and picked [Malory] up in lack of anything else. Then I was thrilled and astonished to find that (a) The thing was a perfect tragedy, with a beginning, a middle and an end implicit in the beginning and (b) the characters were real people with recognisable reactions which could be forecast [...] Anyway, I somehow started writing a book." The novel, which White described as "a preface to Malory", was titled "The Sword in the Stone" and told the story of the boyhood of King Arthur. White was also influenced by Freudian psychology and his lifelong involvement in natural history. "The Sword in the Stone" was well-reviewed and was a Book of the Month Club selection in 1939.

In February 1939, White moved to Doolistown, Ireland, where he lived out the international crisis and the Second World War itself as a de facto conscientious objector. [cite web|url=http://jeyers.phlipped.co.uk/arthur2.php|title=The Importance of The Second World War to T. H. White's "Once and Future King"|accessdate=2008-04-30] It was in Ireland that he wrote most of what would later become "The Once and Future King"; two sequels to "The Sword and the Stone" were published during this time: "The Witch in the Wood" (later retitled "The Queen of Air and Darkness") in 1939, and "The Ill-Made Knight" in 1940. The version of "The Sword in the Stone" included in "The Once and Future King" differs in several respects from the earlier version. It is darker, and some critics prefer the earlier version. White's indirect experience of the war had a profound effect on these tales of King Arthur, which include commentaries on war and human nature in the form of a heroic narrative.

In 1946, White settled in Alderney, one of the smaller Channel Islands, where he lived for the rest of his life. The same year, White published "Mistress Masham's Repose", a children's book in which a young girl discovers a group of Lilliputians (the tiny people in Swift's "Gulliver's Travels") living near her house. In 1947, he published "The Elephant and the Kangaroo", in which a repetition of Noah's Flood occurs in Ireland. In the early 1950s White published two non-fiction books: "The Age of Scandal" (1950), a collection of essays about 18th-century England, and "The Goshawk" (1951), an account of White's attempt to train a hawk in the traditional art of falconry. In 1954 White translated and edited "The Book of Beasts", an English translation of a medieval bestiary originally written in Latin.

In 1958 White completed the fourth book of "The Once and Future King" sequence, "The Candle in the Wind", though it was first published with the other three parts and has never been published separately. The Broadway musical "Camelot" was based on "The Once and Future King", as was the animated film "The Sword in the Stone".

He died on 17 January 1964 aboard ship in Piraeus, Greece (Athens, Greece) of a heart ailment, en route to Alderney from a lecture tour in the United States.

In 1977 "The Book of Merlyn", a conclusion to "The Once and Future King", was published posthumously.

Personal life

According to Sylvia Townsend Warner's biography, White was "a homosexual and a sado-masochist." He came close to marrying several times but had no enduring romantic relationships, and wrote in his diaries that "It has been my hideous fate to be born with an infinite capacity for love and joy with no hope of using them." White was also an agnostic,Wilson, A. N. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/03/06/do0605.xml "World of books: The knights with right on their side"] , The Telegraph, 2006-06-03. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] and towards the end of his life a heavy drinker. [Cantwell, Mary. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0DEFD61538F933A2575AC0A964948260 "Books of the Times: Letters to a Friend"] (book review), The New York Times, 1982-09-10. Retrieved on 2008-02-13.]

Influence

Science-fiction writer Michael Moorcock enjoyed White's "The Once and Future King", and was especially influenced by the underpinnings of realism in his work.Hudson, Patrick. [http://www.zone-sf.com/mmoorcock.html "Fifty Percent Fiction: Michael Moorcock"] (interview), The Zone, 2001-2002. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] Moorcock eventually engaged in a "wonderful correspondence" with White, and later recalled that "White [gave] me some very good advice on how to write". [Klaw, Rick. [http://www.scifi.com/sfw/interviews/sfw6814.html "Michael Moorcock serves up sword and sorcery with a new Elric adventure"] , Sci Fi Weekly, 2001-04-02. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] J. K. Rowling has said that T. H. White's writing strongly influenced the "Harry Potter" books; several critics have compared Rowling's character Albus Dumbledore to White's absent-minded Merlyn, [cite web|title=Real Wizards: The Search for Harry's Ancestors|work=Channel4.com|url=http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/R/real_wizards/myth.htm |year=2001|accessdate=2007-06-01] [cite web|title=Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Novel|author=Evelyn M Perry|work-Farmingham State College|url=http://www.aolatschool.com/students/books/booknotes/_a/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone/20060103193609990005| accessdate=2007-06-01] and Rowling herself has described White's Wart as "Harry's spiritual ancestor." [cite web|title=JK (JOANNE KATHLEEN) ROWLING (1966-)|url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/authors/author/0,5917,412962,00.html|work=Guardian Unlimited|accessdate=2007-10-08] Gregory Maguire was influenced by "White's ability to be intellectually broadminded, to be comic, to be poetic, and to be fantastic" in the writing of his 1995 novel "", [Nolan, Tom. [http://news.bookweb.org/m-bin/printer_friendly?article_id=1800 "Gregory Maguire Brews Another Wicked Mix of Historical Fiction & Timeless Myth"] , Bookselling This Week, 2003-09-16. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.] and crime fiction writer Ed McBain also cited White as an influence. [ [http://www.authorsontheweb.com/features/0012author-influences/author-influences.asp "What Authors Influenced You?"] , Authorsontheweb.com. Retrieved on 2007-07-10.]

elected bibliography

* "England Have My Bones" (1936)
* The Once and Future King
** "The Sword in the Stone" (1938)
** "The Queen of Air and Darkness" (1939, originally titled "The Witch in the Wood")
** "The Ill-Made Knight" (1940)
** "The Candle in the Wind" (1958)
* "Mistress Masham's Repose" (1946)
* "The Elephant and the Kangaroo" (1947)
* "The Age of Scandal" (1950)
* "The Goshawk" (1951)
* "The Book of Beasts" (translator, 1954)
* "The Book of Merlyn" (1977)

Notes

References

*

External links

* [http://www2.netdoor.com/~moulder/thwhite/ "England have my bones"—the T.H. White website]
* [http://libtext.library.wisc.edu/Bestiary/ White's 1954 translation of a 12th-century bestiary]
* [http://jeyers.phlipped.co.uk/arthur2.php Essay on "The Once and Future King] .


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