Arthurian Literature Inspires Imagination

Who is your favorite Arthuriana author?

We asked our Twitter followers that question this week and the results were very interesting! Some of the big names in Arthurian literature brought in the predictable votes, such as Sir Thomas Malory, Tennyson, T.H. White, but many folks responded with a wide variety of additional books and authors. 

The comments and replies show the breadth and range of Arthurian literature, from short stories to multi-book series, and authors of different backgrounds, nationalities, genders, and time periods. Clearly, Arthurian legend captivates the imagination and appeals to readers and writers of every generation.

Of our original options, here is where the results stand:

T.H. White was the clear winner of the three named options, claiming 30.7% of the vote. Malory came in second at 20.4% and Tennyson only claimed 12.4%. Tennyson is a bit of a surprise, given how influential his work has been and continues to be on Arthuriana. (He wrote The Lady of Shalott and The Idylls of the King, as well as other miscellaneous poems relating to Arthurian legend.)

However, all three named authors couldn’t withstand the collective appeal of other options. “None of the above” took home 36.5% of the vote, and in a blow to everyone’s to-be-read lists, followers responded with some of their other favorite authors. The final results end up with the following: 

Bar chart with the final votes tally of the Arthurian poll

In addition to literature, we also had three movies or tv series included in the replies: 

What I find most interesting from these results is not necessarily which authors were put forward as favorites, but how few of those authors were published in the 21st century. There are only a handful here published after 2000, but surely we’ve had Arthurian literature published since then – right?

In fact, we certainly have. Short story anthology Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices was published in 2021. Tracy Deonn’s fabulous Arthurian adaptation Legendborn was published in 2020 and the sequel Bloodmarked just came out (2022). Which leads me to ask – what makes an Arthurian book a favorite? What causes it to be added to lists like these? Is it just a matter of time? We would love to know your thoughts.

Update Your TBR Lists

Of course, with all of these fabulous recommendations, our to-be-read list just grew by quite a lot! Below is a list of all the recommended authors or texts, arranged alphabetically. Enjoy!

Alliterative Morte Arthure (Middle English poem)

Bernard Cornwell, the Warlord Chronicles series beginning with The Winter King (1995)

Charles Williams, Taliessin through Logres (1938) and The Region of the Summer Stars (1944).

Chrétien de Troyes, multiple Arthurian poems, including Yvain, Eric and Enide, and Perceval (Old French)

CS Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945) and “Launcelot” (unfinished poem)

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” (Middle English poem, 14th century)

Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia regum Britanniae / The History of the Kings of Britain (Latin, c.1136)

Guy Gavriel Kay, The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy (1984-1986)

Howard Pyle, quartet beginning with The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)

John Heath-Stubbs, “Artorius” (poem, 1972)

John Steinbeck, “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights”

JRR Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur (composed c.1930s, published 2013)

Kevin Crossley-Holland, trilogy of Arthurian children’s novels, beginning with The Seeing Stone (2000)

Lawman, Brut (Old English poem)

Mabinogion (Middle Welsh, prose stories, c.12-13th centuries)

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mists of Avalon (1982)

Mary Stewart, trilogy beginning with The Crystal Cave (1970)

Queste del Saint Graal, also known as the Vulgate Cycle (written in Old French c.1210-1235)

Stephen Lawhead, Pendragon Cycle of five novels beginning with Taliesin (1987)

Roger Lancelyn Green, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1954)

Rosemary Sutcliff, multiple Arthurian works, including a trilogy beginning with The Sword and the Circle (1981)

Susan Cooper, multiple books, including a series beginning with Over Sea, Under Stone (1965)

Verlyn Flieger, Arthurian Voices (2020)

Wace, Roman de Brut (Old English poem, 1155)

William of Rennes, Gesta Regum Britanniae (1236, poem)

Wolfram von Eschenback, Parzival (13th century, Middle High German poem)