Terence Hanbury White - author, satirist and historian (1906 - 1964)

Born in India and educated at Cheltenham and Queen's College, Cambridge, White was in many respects, the archetypal eccentric Englishman. Between 1930 and 1936 he taught at Stowe School, where he wrote his acclaimed autobiographical work, England Have My Bones. Reclusive in nature, his relationship with people was eclipsed by his love of animals - he reserved his deepest relationships for his pet dogs. He was passionate about his country - its history, mythology and legends, and most especially the Arthurian Legends.

His best-known works are those making up the tetralogy, The Once and Future King published in 1958, a collection of four books surrounding the character of King Arthur - The Sword in the Stone (which was the first, and best-known of the four novels, published 1938), The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-made Knight and The Candle in the Wind. He gathered his information from many sources, notably Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d’Arthur.

White was keen on the countryside and country pursuits - passionate about wildlife, an expert fisherman, falconer and hunter (although he later gave up hunting, as he considered it a betrayal of his peaceful love of animals). He had a number of unusual pets (hedgehogs and squirrels among them), and is said to have taken in stray wild animals to nurse back to health. His extensive knowledge of animal and country lore, and of hunting in particular, is demonstrated time and again in his work, and his immaculate attention to detail is at once compelling and educational.

Kay put on one of the left-handed gauntlets and called Cully from the perch; but Cully, with all his feathers close-set and malevolent, glared at him with a mad marigold eye and refused to come. So Kay took him up.

"Do you think we ought to fly him?" asked the Wart doubtfully. "Deep in the moult like this?"

"Of course we can fly him, yon ninny," said Kay. "He only wants to be carried a bit, that's all."

"Hob says that we mustn't fly Cully till he has roused at least twice," said the Wart.

"Hob doesn't know anything about it," said the other boy. "Nobody can tell whether a hawk is fit to fly except the man who is carrying it."

"Hob is only a villein anyway," added Kay, and began to undo the leash and swivel from the jesses.

The Sword in the Stone

As a pacifist, he hated weapons of war, believing that the abolition of war was both possible and desirable. He also had a great distrust of technology in general, believing that society would always fail to adjust to the pace of technological change, and that people would suffer as a result. What he would make of the state of the world in our 21st century can only be imagined.

Encyclopædia Britannica

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