Athens First Cemetery Athens, Regional unit of Athens, Attica, Greece
Terence Hanbury "Tim" White (29 May 1906 – 17 January 1964) was an English author best known for his Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King, first published together in 1958. One of his most memorable is the first of the series, The Sword in the Stone, published as a stand-alone book in 1938.
According to Sylvia Townsend Warner's 1967 biography, White was "a homosexual and a sado-masochist." He came close to marrying several times but had no enduring romantic relationships. In his diaries of Zed, a young boy, he wrote: "I have fallen in love with Zed [...] the whole situation is an impossible one. All I can do is behave like a gentleman. It has been my hideous fate to be born with an infinite capacity for love and joy with no hope of using them."
Broadcaster Robert Robinson published an account of a conversation with White, in which he claimed to be attracted to small girls. Robinson concluded that this was really a cover for homosexuality. Julie Andrews wrote in her autobiography, "I believe Tim may have been an unfulfilled homosexual, and he suffered a lot because of it."
However, White's long-time friend and literary agent, David Higham, wrote, "Tim was no homosexual, though I think at one time he had feared he was (and in his ethos fear would have been the word)." Higham gave Warner the address of one of White's lovers "so that she could get in touch with someone so important in Tim's story. But she never, the girl told me, took that step. So she was able to present Tim in such a light that a reviewer could call him a raging homosexual. Perhaps a heterosexual affair would have made her blush."
Lin Carter in his book Imaginary Worlds portrayed White as a man who felt deeply but was unable to form close human relationships due to his unfortunate childhood: "He was a man with an enormous capacity for loving. It shows in his prodigious correspondence and in his affection for dogs and in the bewildered and inarticulate loves his characters experience in his books; but he had few close friends, and no genuine relationship with a woman."
White was agnostic, and towards the end of his life a heavy drinker. Warner wrote of him, "Notably free from fearing God, he was basically afraid of the human race."
White died of heart failure on 17 January 1964 aboard ship in Piraeus, Athens, Greece, en route to Alderney from a lecture tour in the United States. He is buried in First Cemetery of Athens. In 1977 The Book of Merlyn, a conclusion to The Once and Future King, was published posthumously. His papers are held by the University of Texas at Austin.