The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn begins after Arthur’s death.  He is transported to a parallel world where he reunites with the animals he met during the magical adventures of his childhood.  They discuss solutions to war, political systems, and Arthur has more magical adventures.

The Book of Merlyn was written by T.H. White in 1940/41.  He intended it to be the finale to his Arthurian series.  He believed the book, with its strong anti-war message, would be the gem of the series.  He submitted The Book of Merlyn with The Candle in the Wind, and along with revised versions of the first three books, and told his English publisher he wished the entirety to be published together.

His publisher in England, had a very different opinion.  He felt that White had “become a political moralist” and chaffed at the book’s somewhat heavy-handed message.  He also suggested that due to the wartime paper shortage, publishing such a large volume was unfeasible.  Due to the conflict that ensued, White left his publisher Collins and joined the list of another publisher, Jonathan Cape.  During the protracted fight that lasted more than a decade, The Candle in the Wind and The Book of Merlyn sat unpublished.

In 1958, White and Collins reached a compromise.  Collins published the first four book in the series as a compilation.  The Book of Merlyn was not included.  Therefore, White pulled particularly anti-war scenes from The Book of Merlyn and included them in The Sword in the Stone.

The Book of Merlyn was finally published in 1977, thirteen years after T.H. White’s death.  Unfortunately, because it had never been prepped for publication during his lifetime, it still needed editing.  Therefore, it is still not the book White would have written had it been published during his lifetime.

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