No one knows for sure who the author of Le Morte D'Arthur was, but the generally accepted theory is that of American scholar G.L. Kitteredge, who argued it was Sir Thomas Malory, born in the first quarter of the fifteenth century, and who spent the greatest part of his last twenty years in prison. Another possibility is a Thomas Malory of Studley and Hutton in Yorkshire, or an author living north of Warwickshire. It is generally accepted that the author was a member of the gentry and a Lancastrain. John Lawlor was Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Keele. He is the author of The Tragic Sense in Shakespeare, Piers Plowman: An Essay in Criticism and Chaucer. Janet Cowen is a senior lecturer in English at King's College, University of London.
Eight tales divided into 21 books, Malory's work, written many centuries after the events it purports to describe, is the apotheosis of Arthurian legend. It is both a ripping yarn and incalculably important in the effect it had on Englishmen's view of themselves. Le Morte d'Arthur made coherent in the 15th century what previously had been a mass of fable: starting with Arthur's birth, accession and marriage to Guinevere; taking in the begetting of his son Mordred with his half-sister Morgan; the creation of the Round Table, defeat of the Roman emperor Lucius and Arthur's coronation by the Pope; the emergence of Merlin, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table; the story of Tristram and Isode; the fragmentation of the Round Table and the knights' search for the Holy Grail; Lancelot and Guinevere's adultery and Arthur's discovery of it which resulted in war between the two men and Mordred's revolt against his father. It ends with Arthur's death in battle with Mordred, and the removal of his body to Avalon. Malory mentions the legend that the king still lives, awaiting the time when he is required to return. (Kirkus UK)