Here Lies Arthur

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Here Lies Arthur
Front cover of first edition
AuthorPhilip Reeve
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's adventure novel, historical novel
PublisherScholastic UK
Publication date
2 April 2007
Pages289 pp (first edition)
LC ClassPZ7.R25576 He 2008[1]

Here Lies Arthur is a young-adult novel by Philip Reeve, published by Scholastic in 2007. Set in fifth or sixth century Britain and the Anglo-Saxon invasion, it features a girl who participates in the deliberate construction of legendary King Arthur during the man's lifetime, orchestrated by a bard. Reeve calls it a back-creation: not a genuine historical novel as it is not based on actual specific events; rather it is "back-created" from the legends, giving them a "realistic" origin.[2]

Reeve won the annual Carnegie Medal, recognising the year's best children's book published in the UK[3]

Scholastic published the first US edition in November 2008.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The novel starts with an attack by Arthur and his war-band, and the escape of Gwyna, a servant girl. She is found by Myrddin, a bard who hopes to build Arthur's reputation as a great hero so that he can unite the native British against the Saxons who have occupied the east of the country. Myrddin tells Gwyna to give Arthur Caliburn while pretending to be the Lady of the Lake. When she does that successfully, Myrddin disguises her in boy's clothes so that she can travel with the war-band as his servant.

During her travels, she meets a boy who was brought up as a girl, tricks a holy man, swims in the Roman baths of Aquae Sulis, takes part in a battle, and witnesses Arthur's brutality, piety and immorality, all the while observing her master create the fantastic stories that have made 'King Arthur' one of the most famous men in legend. After Arthur's death she creates some stories herself, conceding that the legend is more important than the mere facts.


  • Gwyna/Gwyn: the narrator, a servant girl who serves Myrddin and spends much of the book disguised as a boy
  • Myrddin: her master, a Celtic bard, Arthur's adviser
  • Arthur, nicknamed the Bear: the leader of a Romano-British war-band
  • Gwenhwyfar: a relative of Ambrosius Aurelianus, later Arthur's wife, later likes Bedwyr
  • Valerius: defender of Aquae Sulis, Gwenhwyfar's first husband
  • Cei: Arthur's half-brother and a friend to Myrddin
  • Bedwyr: Gwyn's friend, later Gwenhwyfar's lover, one of the best soldiers
  • Medrawt: Bedwyr's older brother, a warrior
  • Peredur: son of a famous warrior, raised as a girl by his widowed mother, later Gwyna's lover, childhood name Peri
  • Saint Porroc: self-proclaimed holy man, leader of a group of worldly monks
  • Maelwas of Dumnonia, overlord of the southern kingdoms


Carnegie judges (librarians) described Here Lies Arthur as enjoyable and thought-provoking, a "page-turner of a novel", adding that "Reeve cleverly makes the story relevant to today by examining the versions of history that are handed down to us, and the ways in which myths are created."[4]

Beside the 2008 Carnegie Medal[3] Here Lies Arthur was bronze runner up for the final Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, ages category 9–11 years.[5] It made the Booktrust Teenage Prize shortlist[6] and the Manchester Book Award longlist.[7] in 2008.

Five years after its publication, WorldCat reports that Here Lies Arthur is Reeve's work most widely held in participating libraries.[8]

On Goodreads, the book has a score of 3.6 out of 5.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Here lies arthur" (first U.S. edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  2. ^ Philip Reeve, "Author's Note", Here Lies Arthur.
  3. ^ a b Carnegie Winner 2008 Archived 1 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  4. ^ "CILIP Carnegie Medal – Judges' comments on the shortlist" Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Press release 18 April 2008. CILIP. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Nestlé Children's Book Prize". Booktrust. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Booktrust Teenage Prize". Booktrust. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Winners and runners-up from previous years". Manchester Book Award. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Reeve, Philip" Archived 14 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine. WorldCat. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  9. ^ "Here Lies Arthur". Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Just in Case
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Bog Child