Featured Writer: T. H. White

Burns Library, Boston College

This week we have a less well-known writer of the Hugo Awards, the English author, T. H. White. Best known for his Once and Future King series (the first novel of which is this week’s feature), White would have a subdued career comparatively to our other writers.

White, born into a declining marriage, spent much of his early life quiet and ill, later developing pessimistic views on life. While studying at Queen’s College, White discovered Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory. Mallory’s retelling of Arthurian mythology would go on to inspire White’s famous work, The Sword in the Stone. White intended his work to act as a preface to Mallory’s.

The best thing for being sad, is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails … Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

– T. H. White

We know very little about White’s personal life. We know that he did not marry in his lifetime nor had many enduring romances. Many notable critics and historians assume White to have been homosexual. This thought greatly feared White as his literary agent would later share. Though we have little of his life, we can thank White’s work on The Sword in the Stone for inspiring many of today’s writers. Among those who credit White as inspiration include Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling, and Gregory Maguire. Though he might not have had as lasting an impact as Clarke, Campbell, or Simak in his short career, White managed to tell a story that sparked the imaginations of many. For that, I thank him.

Notable Fiction:

  • Loved Helen
  • The Once and Future King
  • Mistress Masham’s Repose
  • The Master
  • The Book of Merlyn
  • The Maharajah and Other Stories

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