Accessible knightly masculinities in children’s Arthuriana, 1903–11
This chapter explores the ways in which British and American adaptations of Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur for child readers during the early twentieth century sought to redefine chivalric masculinity for a modern age, following the Victorian medieval revival. Focusing on works by Henry Gilbert and Howard Pyle, it examines how these texts retained the imaginative framework of the 'soldier hero' in their attempt to appeal to adventurous boy readers, but redefined this figure in moral terms. They promote a romanticised 'gentleman' whose courtesy, duty and dedication were drawn from the chivalric model but whose bravery and endurance went beyond the battlefield. In doing so, however, they also hint at irreconcilable tensions between an idealised medievalism and the increasing complexities of modern gender identity.