T. H. White Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

T. H. White’s first literary productions were two poetry collections. Several short stories enclosed within the satiric framenarrative of Gone to Ground were reprinted along with later items in the posthumously issued The Maharajah, and Other Stories (1981). The majority of White’s nonfiction books celebrate his strong interest in field sports; The Goshawk (1951), which describes his experiments in falconry, is the most notable. The title The Godstone and the Blackymor (1959) refers to a legendary monument on the island of Inniskea. White also wrote two books on famous scandals, The Age of Scandal: An Excursion Through a Minor Period (1950) and The Scandalmonger (1952).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

T. H. White labored long and hard in relative obscurity before achieving literary success. His most successful work, The Sword in the Stone, was considered by many a children’s book. White intended from the very beginning, however, that the story should be the introduction to a comprehensive modern rendering of the Arthurian legend. The second and third volumes became increasingly adult in their concerns and much darker in their implications. The fourth part languished unpublished for nearly twenty years, but after it was finally revised to form the conclusion of The Once and Future King, the collection was eventually recognized as a masterpiece of modern fantasy. Even that version lacked the original fifth part, however, which remained unpublished for another nineteen years—thirteen years after the author’s death. Although the animated film of The Sword in the Stone (1963) and the film version of the Once and Future King-based stage musical Camelot (1967) have reached a far wider audience than the original novels, the Arthurian sequence can now be seen as a work comparable in ambition and quality to the similar endeavors of fantasy novelist J. R. R. Tolkien.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brewer, Elisabeth. T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” Cambridge, England: D. S. Brewer, 1993. Examines White’s work and other Arthurian romances, historical fiction, and fantastic fiction. Includes bibliography and index.

Crane, John K. T. H. White. New York: Twayne, 1974. A competent overview of White’s work. For the beginning student.

Irwin, Robert. “T. H. White.” In The St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, edited by David Pringle. Detroit: St. James Press, 1996. A good summary account of White’s fantasies.

Kellman, Martin. T. H. White and the Matter of Britain. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1988. Kellman studies the Arthurian legend in detail.

Manlove, C. N. The Impulse of Fantasy Literature. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1983. The chapter on White carefully relates his work to the book’s other subjects and the tradition of British fantasy.

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. T. H. White: A Biography. London: Cape/Chatto & Windus, 1967. A sensitive biography, whose central conclusions are summarized in Warner’s introduction to The Book of Merlyn.