A Reading List:
Recommended cheap (sort of), available (probably)  translations of medieval Arthurian texts

For another, very similar list with links to an online bookstore, check out Linda Malcor's Dragonlords' Bookstore--Arthur.   Another good starting place is the Camelot Project Bibliography Sources for the Study of the Arthurian Legends.

Anthologies and reference Cyclical works (13th-15th c.)
Pre-12th century texts Further reading; movies
12th century texts and later romances Buying books online
Anthologies and Reference:

Richard Barber, Arthurian Legends: An Illustrated Anthology (Boydell & Brewer)
Brengle, Arthur, King of Britain (Prentice-Hall or Appleton-Century-Crofts)
James Wilhelm, The Romance of Arthur : An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation (Garland)


Norris J. Lacy, ed. New Arthurian Encyclopedia, or  the older Arthurian Encyclopedia (Garland)
Norris J. Lacy and Geoffrey Ashe, Arthurian Handbook (Garland 1988, revised 1997)
Alan Lupack,
The Oxford Guide To Arthurian Literature And Legend  (Oxford 2005)

Before the beginning: some Latin histories seem to refer to an Arthur or Arthur-like leader who was a general or leader of the Britons around the year 500; Welsh poems and stories refer to or tell of a legendary Arthur.

Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae (On the Ruin of Britain), (6th c.) pub. British-American Books; or The Ruin of Britain and Other Documents, ed. and trans. Michael Winterbottom (Phillimore, 1978, vol. 7 of Arthurian Period Sources in the History from the Sources series, gen. ed. John Morris).

NenniusBritish History, and the Welsh Annals, (9th c.) ed. and tr. John Morris (Rowman & Littlefield, out of print; OR Phillimore, 1980, vol. 8 of Arthurian Period Sources in the History from the Sources series, gen. ed. John Morris ); also pub. British-American Books

Welsh Triads, Gododdin, other references: The Arthur of the Welsh : The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature, by Rachel Bromwich, (U. of Wales Press, currently out of print); or John B. Coe and Simon Young, The Celtic Sources for the Arthurian Legend (Llanerch 1995) which gives both texts and translation.

The Mabinogion, (11th. c. and after; some editions do not contain the Arthurian tales), tr. Jones and Jones (Everyman), or Gantz (Penguin)


For texts and translations of some of these materials, see the online editions at these sites:

Gildas the Wise, Ruin of Britain, trans. Hugh Williams (1899)

Hanes Cymru / Welsh History by Jeff Davies

The Saxon Shore: Lemannis by Jason Godesky--complete Gildas and Nennius, plus other texts such as Jordanes, Giraldus Cambrensis, Bede.

 Medieval Sourcebook: Selected Sources --links from Fordham's pages


Geoffrey's History is the first book to tell the story of King Arthur, his queen, his knights, his strange begetting, and his death. Over the next century, long narrative poems and tales (romances) and some shorter poems (lais) were written about the adventures of various knights. In some of them, Arthur is just a casual character; in others, his court is vitally important.

Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain (ca. 1138), tr. Lewis Thorpe --great list of names (Penguin, 1981)

Geoffrey's Latin work was put into English verse (the Brut) by Layamon and into French verse by Wace (Brut). For these, see

Tristan romances: There are supposed to be two principal versions of the Tristan story, distinguished by whether the potion has a "time limit" and also by the stories of Tristan's marriage and death. One version is represented by Beroul and Eilhart, the other by Thomas, Gottfried, and the Saga. Several short poems also tell episodes from the story.
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  • No-one is quite sure what a Breton lay or lai is, but evidently it involved a short narrative composition related to songs made up on traditional subjects or new ones by the singer-authors. None of these were written down in Breton, but some were recorded in French and in Middle English, and some of these present adventures involving Arthur and his knights.
    Marie de France, two lais, Lanval and Chevrefueil (ca. 1150-90), portray Arthur and Tristan, respectively:  The Lais of Marie de France, tr. Brugess and Busby (prose, Penguin); see also online verse translation by Judy Shoaf, and the wonderful translations of Patricia Terry in The Honeysuckle and Hazel Tree: Medieval Stories of Men and Women (U. of California Press, 1995), which includes some other lais of the period.
    A couple of other 12th-century French lais are Graelent and Guingamor: Two Breton Lays, ed. and trans. Russell Weingartner (Garland, 1985). A group of poems in Middle English which call themselves Breton Lays have been edited (NOT translated) as Breton Lays in Middle English by Thomas Rumble (Wayne State University Press, 1965) and Middle English Breton Lays by Anne Laskaya and others (Western Michigan U. Press, 1995); the latter is online under each lay's name at TEAMS MIDDLE ENGLISH TEXTS.

    Chretien de Troyes wrote five romances (two unfinished), in  French sometime before 1190, and was the first to tell of Lancelot's love for Guenevere and of a Grail.

    Individual romances of Chretien:
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  • Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote a very different version of the Grail story (ca. 1200), based however on Chretien's:Parzival, tr. Hatto (Penguin, 1980), or Katherin Patterson (Lodestar, 1998); there is also a Random House edition.  The translation by Mustard and Passage (Vintage, 1961) is also considered excellent.

    High Book of the Grail; Perlesvaus, tr.Nigel Bryant (Boydell and Brewer)--a French prose romance with a wider scope than Chretien's romance. Also available online from OMACL in the translation of Sebastian Evans, The High History of the Holy Graal

    The French "Didot Perceval": The Romance of Perceval in Prose, tr. Dell Skeels (U. of
    Washington Press, 1966; out of print).

    Diu Crône is a 13th-c. German romance, with Gawain as the hero of many adventures:  The Crown, Heinrich von dem Türlin, trans. by J.W. Thomas (U. of Nebraska Press, 1989).

    Erex Saga and Ivens Saga : The Old Norse Versions of Chrétien De Troyes's Erec and Yvain, trans. Foster Blaisdell and Marianne E. Kalinke (U. of Nebraska Press, out of print)

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, tr. from Middle English by Marie Boroff (verse; Norton, 1967), tr. Theodore Silverstein (verse, U. of Chicago Press, 1974, with illustrations) tr. Burton Raffel (verse; New American Library 1996), tr. Stone and Barron (verse; Penguin), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with Pearl and Sir Orfeo, tr. J. R. R. Tolkien (verse; Ballantine).

    Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale in the Canterbury Tales is another lively tale of Arthur's court.

    Three Arthurian Romances : Poems from Medieval France : Caradoc, the Knight With the Sword, the Perilous Graveyard, tr. Ross Gilbert Arthur (Everyman)

    Medieval works that attempt to tell the entire story of Arthur and his knights:

    The Lancelot-Grail Cycle, also known as the "Prose Lancelot" or "Vulgate Lancelot," is a 13th-century French compilation of as many of the romances as the author knew, combined into one fairly coherent story from Arthur's birth to his death, with episodes from the life of Christ and Joseph of Arimathea to give the background of the Grail.

    Lancelot-Grail : The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, tr. Norris J. Lacy  5 volumes (Garland)--this is a hardback but worth looking for in the library!

    The last two major sections of the cycle are published as:

    An even longer complilation is the "Prose Tristan" which makes Tristan a central character of the Arthurian adventures:

    Thomas Malory 's work has a special place for English readers. Because different editors use different basic versions (either the Winchester Manuscript or Caxton's edition), and make different decisions about modernizing or translating Malory's language, read a few pages of any edition you might want to buy so that you can decide if this will be comfortable for you.

    King Arthur's Death, tr. Brian Stone (Penguin) the Middle English Alliterative and Stanzaic Arthur poems.

    Sites for further reading, either in the original languages or in translation, medieval and/or modern works:

    More bibliographies:
    Buying books online:

     Amazon.com! Earth's Biggest Bookstore --The books listed above were all (except the Mustard/Passage Parzival) found via this internet site. Those listed as "out of print" may be found by Amazon if you ask.

     ABE Book Search --A great place for finding used/out of print books.

     Bibliofind search form --another good place to try for both in and out of print books.

     J.S. 3/98

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