Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project: Le Morte d’Arthur

La Belle Iseult, William Morris

For the next selection of the Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project, I’ve chosen a work that inspired many Pre-Raphaelite pieces and captured the Victorian imagination:  Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

We all know the Arthurian tales, they are embedded in our culture.  Every few years it seems as if Hollywood gives us a slick new version of Camelot.  Authors return to the legends for inspiration.  Musicians lyrically recant their interpretations of the saga.  It goes on and on.

So, while the stories of King Arthur and his knights are familiar, I propose that we revisit them, study them, and ponder the works that they inspired.  Try to see them with new eyes, from a different perspective.  The Pre-Raphaelites were living on the dawn of a new era, the Industrial Revolution.  They were surrounded by modern advances and yet they hearkened back to the age of chivalry and yearned for the medieval.  Let’s immerse ourselves in Le Morte d’Arthur and discuss the Pre-Raphaelite works that stem from it.  Many of those works are already on this site in previous posts, but this will give me a chance to perhaps add new depth and understanding through my reading project.

I will be reading on my Nook, using a free version downloaded from Project Gutenburg.  (Le Morte d’Arthur Vol. I) (Le Morte d’Arthur Vol. II) They have versions compatible for other devices, such as Kindle, or for reading on your computer.

Or, hopefully you can find a decently priced paperback at your local bookstore or second-hand bookshop.  Or eBay. If not, here are a few I’ve found online:

From Amazon:  Paperback Le Morte D’Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table (Signet Classics)  ($7.95)
From Amazon:  Paperback Le Morte Darthur (Norton Critical Editions) ($17.46)

AbeBooks has the best prices that I’ve found, but I’ve never purchased from them.  Le Morte d’Arthur at AbeBooks. 

If anyone knows of another source for a decently priced paperback of Le Morte d’Arthur, please let me know so I can pass it on for everyone else!

You can always participate with the Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project.  Read at your own pace, but please feel free to join in or start discussions by:

If you post about Le Morte d’Arthur on your own blog, please send me an email (stephaniepina @ so that I can link to it in a future post.

14 thoughts on “Pre-Raphaelite Reading Project: Le Morte d’Arthur”

  1. I love this website SOOO much! I’ll be reading along with you, I’ve never read La Morte d’Arthur. GOOD CHOICE!!! Huzzah!

  2. Great suggestion, never read in it’s entirety. I’m also midway through “Virgin and the Crab” which I’m enjoying; thanks for the connections…

  3. Amo inmensamente el Arte y el mundo que inspiró a los Pre-rafaelistas,y a sus musas,especialmente a Lizzie Siddal.
    Este sitio es especial para mi,gracias por Existir y compartir.

  4. Stephanie, what a great idea! I just wanted to point out to your readers that if they purchase the Signet Classics paperback, they will be getting an adaptation of the Middle English story as written by Sir Thomas Malory. It is condensed and language is simplified, but the crux of the story is there. If readers want to read the Middle English Malory, which is much more accessible than Middle English Chaucer, then they will want to get the Norton. Penguin used to publish it in two volumes, and readers might find them by searching for Le Morte D’Arthur and Penguin at Amazon. Looks like AbeBooks has the Penguins for sale in two volumes (separately). The Project Gutenberg text will be Malory’s original.

  5. Thank you! That is useful information, and nice for people to have a choice, depending on their reading style.
    This is my first reading of Malory’s work. I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King years ago and loved it. So far, I’m finding Malory’s original work much easier to read than I had anticipated.

  6. I’m reading Malory from Random House reissued in 1999. It’s all 21 books in one, fairly readable. How close is this text to the Gutenberg?

  7. Hi All and to Stephanie,

    I am a begginer really in all things PRB but for a few years now I have been reading and researching Lizzie Siddal who for some reason really caught my attention after seeing Desperate Romantics on the TV. I am so glad to have found this page and I will be trying my best to keep up the reading with you but I am just finsihing ‘Lizzie Siddal’ by Lucinda Hawksley at the moment so I will need to catch up!
    Thanks for this site!

  8. I’ve loved Pre-Raphaelite art and have been interested in the artists for a long time. I was very happy to find your site and reading list. When funding allows I’m going to excitedly start reading! 🙂


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