On July 31, 1485, from the press of William Caxton, the first English printer, issued the collection of Arthurian romances known as Le Morte d’Arthur. Caxton’s preface names the author as Sir Thomas Malory but gives no further information about him. At the end of the volume is a farewell to the reader in which the author begs prayer for his “good delyveraunce,” states that the book was finished in the ninth year of the reign of King Edward IV (that is, after March 4, 1469), and names himself as “Syr Thomas Maleore, knyght.”
The only historical figure now known with whom this Sir Thomas Malory could be identified was a member of an old Warwickshire family. He came into his father’s estates about 1433 and with “one lance and two archers” was in the train of Richard Beauchamp at the siege of Calais in 1436. In 1455 he was a member of Parliament for Warwickshire. At this point his career underwent a drastic change, and within the next five or six years he was accused of and tried for a number of crimes: cattle raiding, extortion, breaking and entering, theft, rape, sedition, and attempted murder. He was imprisoned eight times and twice made dramatic escapes. After this interlude of lawlessness, he is known to have followed the earl of Warwick on his expedition into Northumberland in 1462; probably was present at the siege of Alnwick, which lasted until January 30, 1463; and very likely went over with Warwick to the Lancastrians....
(The entire section is 572 words.)