Search Menu


Key Facts

Key Facts

full title  ·  The Once and Future King

author  · T. H. (Terence Hanbury) White

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Fantasy; heroic epic; satire

language  · English

time and place written  · England; 19361958

date of first publication  ·  1958. The four books that make up the novel were previously published separately: “The Sword in the Stone” in 1938; “The Queen of Air and Darkness” (published as The Witch in the Wood) in 1939; “The Ill-Made Knight” in 1940; and “The Candle in the Wind” in 1958.

publisher  · G. P. Putnam’s Sons

narrator  · The narrator speaks in the third person and is omniscient, or all-knowing. The narrator has access to the thoughts of all the characters and provides commentary on the context of the work, as in the references to Adolf Hitler, Uncle Sam, and Sir Thomas Malory.

point of view  · In general, the novel oscillates among the points of view of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenever, though it occasionally assumes the point of view of minor characters such as Elaine and Gawaine.

tone  · The tone changes throughout the four books of the novel. It is playful and satirical in the first book, but gradually grows darker and more serious

tense  · Past

setting (time)  · The era of King Arthur, a legendary figure in the folklore of medieval England

setting (place)  · Medieval England and France

protagonist  · Arthur, who is called the Wart in Book I, is the protagonist of most of the novel, but Lancelot is the protagonist of the third book.

major conflict  · Arthur struggles to transform feudal England into a civilized country in which strength does not overwhelm justice.

rising action  · Lancelot’s destructive love affair with Guenever; the jealous conspiracies of the Orkney faction; Arthur’s incestuous affair with Morgause

climax  · Because the novel is episodic in form, each of its books comes to its own minor climax: in Book I, Arthur’s becoming king; in Book II, Morgause’s seduction of Arthur; in Book III, the blossoming of Lancelot and Guenever’s affair; and in Book IV, the exposing of Lancelot and Guenever’s affair.

falling action  · Arthur wages war against Lancelot; Mordred seizes power in England

themes  · The relationship between force and justice; the senselessness of war; the frivolity of knighthood

motifs  · Myths and legends; blood sports; castles

symbols  · The Round Table; the Questing Beast; the Holy Grail

foreshadowing  · Merlyn’s frequent comments about Arthur’s future and death hint at the destruction of Camelot and the demise of Arthur’s reign, which is the most prominent subject of foreshadowing in the novel.

More Help

Previous Next

by softazelma, December 02, 2015

my mom read this book when she was in high school. she loved it -- when i was little, she'd tell me about how it was the only book she's ever read that's made her want to get amnesia so she could read it all over again. she'd also told me that she lost her old copy; she said, she thought she'd lent it to someone, or something like that. about a year ago, she was going through her office and she stumbled across it. the pages were a bit yellowed, and the paperback cover was bent and torn, but it was still in one piece. i read it and fell in lo... Read more


8 out of 31 people found this helpful

Wow dude

by MasondedeJohn, February 09, 2017

I think you should check out this source. It may help you with your writing -

essay help

by josephbanks, August 10, 2017

I thought I was good at writing essays all through freshman and sophomore year of high school but then in my junior year I got this awful teacher (I doubt you’re reading this, but screw you Mr. Murphy) He made us write research papers or literature analysis essays that were like 15 pages long. It was ridiculous. Anyway, I found

and since then I’ve been ordering term papers from this one writer. His stuff is amazing and he always finishes it super quickly. Good luck with your order!