T. H. White, fully Terence Hanbury White

T. H.
White, fully Terence Hanbury White

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"

Author Quotes

Those who lived by the sword were forced to die by it.

You run a grave risk, my boy, said the magician, of being turned into a piece of bread, and toasted.

I would recommend a solo flight to all prospective suicides. It tends to make clear the issue of whether one enjoys being alive or not.

It should be said out loud, not whispered in cloisters.

Men often accuse women of driving them to unfaithfulness by senseless jealousy, before there has been any thought of unfaithfulness on their own part. Yet the thought was probably there, unconscious and undetectable except to women. The great Anna Karenina, for instance, forced Vronsky into a certain position by the causeless jealousy of a maniac—yet that position was the only real solution to their problem, and it was the inevitable solution. Seeing so much further into the future than he did, she pressed towards it with passionate tread, wrecking the present because the future was bound to be a wreck.

She hardly ever thought of him. He had worn a place for himself in some corner of her heart, as a sea she'll, always boring against the rock, might do. The making of the place had been her pain. But now the she'll was safely in the rock. It was lodged, and ground no longer.

The whispers will get there in the end.

Unfortunately we have tried to establish Right by Might, and you just can't do that

You see, one gets confused with Time, when it is like that. All one's tenses get muddled, for one thing. If you know what is going to happen to people, and not what has happened to them, it makes it difficult to prevent it happening, if you don't want it to have happened, if you see what I mean? Like drawing in a mirror.

If a boy steals sweets, he said, and his parents punish him, he may be very sorry and good afterwards. But that doesn’t entitle him to steal more sweets, does it? Nor does it mean that he must be given sweets. God was not punishing me by letting the black knight knock me down—he was only withholding the special gift of victory which it had always been within his power to bestow.

It was at the outskirts of the world that the Old Things accumulated, like driftwood round the edges of the sea. (The Troll)

Might does not make right! Right makes right!

The best thing for being sad, replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then-to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.

The word feral has a kind of magic potency which allied itself to two other words, ferocious and free. To revert to a feral state!

War is like a fire. One man may start it, but it will spread al over. It is not about one thing in particular.

If God is supposed to be merciful,' [Arthur] retorted, 'I don't see why He shouldn't allow people to stumble into heaven, just as well as climb there

It was called a tribute before a battle and a ransom afterwards.

Morals are difficult things to talk about, but what has happened is that we have invented a moral sense, which is rotting now that we can’t give it employment. And when a moral sense begins to rot it is worse than when you had none.

The bishops assured both sides that they were going to win, because God was with them, but King Arthur’s men knew that they were outnumbered by three to one, so they thought it was best to get shriven. King Lot’s men, who also knew the odds, spent the night dancing, drinking, dicing and telling each other dirty stories. This is what the chronicles say, at any rate.

Their mother is Athene, the goddess of wisdom, and, although they are often ready to play the buffoon to amuse you, such conduct is the prerogative of the truly wise.

Wars are never fought for one reason, he said. They are fought for dozens of reasons, in a muddle. It is the same with revolts. But there must have been a main reason, said Kay. Not necessarily.

If I were to be made a knight,' said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, 'I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.' That would be extremely presumptuous of you,' said Merlyn, 'and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.' I shouldn't mind.' Wouldn't you? Wait till it happens and see.' Why do people not think, when they are grown up, as I do when I am young?' Oh dear,' said Merlyn. 'You are making me feel confused. Suppose you wait till you are grown up and know the reason?' I don't think that is an answer at all,' replied the Wart, justly. Merlyn wrung his hands. Well, anyway,' he said, 'suppose they did not let you stand against all the evil in the world?' I could ask,' said the Wart. You could ask,' repeated Merlyn. He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically into the fire, and began to munch it fiercely.

It was Christmas night, the eve of the Boxing Day Meet. You must remember that this was in the old Merry England of Gramarye, when the rosy barons ate with their fingers, and had peacocks served before them with all their tail feathers streaming, or boars' heads with the tusks stuck in again—when there was no unemployment because there were too few people to be unemployed—when the forests rang with knights walloping each other on the helm, and the unicorns in the wintry moonlight stamped with their silver feet and snorted their noble breaths of blue upon the frozen air. Such marvels were great and comfortable ones. But in the Old England there was a greater marvel still. The weather behaved itself.

Morals, said Lionel, are a form of insanity. Give me a moral man who insists on doing the right thing all the time, and I will show you a tangle which an angel couldn’t get out of.

The bravest people are the ones who don’t mind looking like cowards.

Author Picture
First Name
T. H.
Last Name
White, fully Terence Hanbury White
Birth Date
Death Date

English Author best known for Arthurian novels including "The Once and Future King"