This article and List developed by Chris Thornborrow.
John Matthews is the most prolific Arthurian writer of our time. He and his wife Caitlin have written some
forty books, over a dozen of which pertain to the Arthurian legend in some way. He competes for a place with Geoffrey Ashe
at the top of the general public popularity stakes. His work is innovative and imaginative and always readable but like Geoffrey
Ashe, and indeed anyone who treats the Legends as more than just stories, he has received criticism from scholars.
John Matthews' first book on the subject appears in a series of titles published by Thames and Hudson.
These are coffee table books with soft covers that include many colour plates and deal with the subject at hand at a high level.
Geoffrey Ashe wrote the book in the series on Arthur and Matthews the one on the Grail .
All of Matthews' books draw heavily on the Grail Lore within the Arthurian Legend as well as some of that
external to the Legends. Matthews is definitely a serious scholar of the Legends and is a member of both the amateur Pendragon
Society and the more scholarly International Arthurian Society. Despite this, Matthews concentrates on more off beat aspects of
Arthurian Legend. His leaning toward the Grail legend in his works is the first indication of this.
The 'Elements' series , epitomise his approach. In these books, the
Arthurian Legend and the Grail Legend are presented in a clear manner with a broad overview of the whole field. The
whole, though, is placed in a context of spiritual enlightenment. The legends are treated as allegorical for a spiritual search
for the divine. More than even this though, Matthews leans toward the old celtic pagan religions as a source for Grail study.
Characters in the legend become pagan heros, events become rituals and the mythos as a whole becomes the old pagan culture.
These two themes of the Legends as spiritual allegories and the origins of such allegories as celtic pagan, pervade all of
John's works, and indeed Caitlin's.
Occasionally, Matthews' work goes beyond even the allegorical. He has presented a system of Tarot magic
based around the Arthurian legend [9,10] and rituals to perform to invoke the archetypes of the Legends. Many
of the works include `path-workings' (mental journies or adventures) to encourage interaction with the mythos
[6,7,9,10,12]. One early book is even subtitled "Magic and the Use of Imagination" .
Both for his spiritual ideas, and his more extreme ideas on magic and the Legends, Matthews has evidently
received much criticism. In the introduction to his latest book  the following words appear :
The objection may be raised that the Arthurian tradition is `just a story', to be enjoyed within its
own parameters, and that to make imaginative and magical connections between ourselves and this tradition is to be
self-deluded. Our answer to this accusation is that the mythic story is a mirror wherein human understanding and
experience is reflected.
He then goes on for a paragraph to defend what must be a besieged point of view. Yet, if these besiegers were to
put down their mental and verbal weapons for long enough to experience Matthews' work, they would find a scholar who is
not afraid to expand and play with the mythos but who makes it clear when he is playing.
This is not a complete collection of Matthews' works on the subject. It does not include his recent work on the
links between Arthurian Legend and Russian Legends, nor does it include forewords, articles, papers or general mythological