Terence Hanbury “Tim” White (29 May 1906 – 17 January 1964) was an English author best known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King, first published together in 1958. One of his most memorable stories is the first of that series, The Sword in the Stone, published as a stand-alone book in 1938.
White was born in Bombay in British India, to English parents Garrick Hanbury White, a superintendent in the Indian police, and Constance Edith Southcote Aston. Terence White had a troubled childhood, with an alcoholic father and an emotionally cold mother, and his parents separated when Terence was fourteen.
White went to Cheltenham College in Gloucestershire, a public school, and Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by the scholar and occasional author L. J. Potts. Potts became a lifelong friend and correspondent, and White later referred to him as “the great literary influence in my life.” While at Queens’ College, White wrote a thesis on Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and graduated in 1928 with a first-class degree in English.
White then taught at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, for four years. In 1936 he published England Have My Bones, a well-received memoir about a year spent in England. The same year, he left Stowe and lived in a workman’s cottage, where he wrote and “revert[ed] to a feral state”, engaging in falconry, hunting, and fishing. White also became interested in aviation, partly to conquer his fear of heights.