Winchester introduction the british library additional manuscript 59678 known as the winchester manuscript is the earliest surviving version of le morte darthur copied by two professional scribes sometime between 1470 and 1483. Le morte darthur originally spelled le morte darthur middle french for the death of arthur is a reworking by sir thomas malory of existing tales about the legendary king arthur guinevere lancelot merlin and the knights of the round tablemalory interpreted existing french and english stories about these figures and added original material eg the gareth story. The definitive english version of the stories of king arthur le morte darthur was completed in 1469 70 by sir thomas malory knight prisoner in a resonant prose style malory charts the tragic disintegration of the fellowship of the round table destroyed from within by warring factionsrecounting the life of king arthur the knightly exploits of sir lancelot du lake sir tristram sir . The greatest english version of the stories of king arthur le morte darthur was completed in 1469 70 by sir thomas malory knight prisoner this edition is the first designed for the general reader to be based on the winchester manuscript which represents what malory wrote more closely than the version printed by william caxton. Having said this microscopic examination revealed that ink smudges on the winchester manuscript are offsets of newly printed pages set in caxtons own font which indicates that the winchester manuscript was in caxtons print shop the winchester manuscript is believed to be closer on the whole to malorys original
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