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Source: re Carnegie Medal

Loblolly man

Reading Philp Larkin’s poem Toads, from 1955, I wondered at the term ‘loblolly men’ in one verse:

Lots of folk live on their wits:
  Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
  They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
  With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
  they seem to like it.

In the 18th century, crews of British Royal Navy ships usually included ‘loblolly men’—surgeon’s mates,  young men who helped the surgeons by collecting amputated limbs, hauling the buckets of tar used to cauterise stumps, and spreading sand to soak up blood. They were also responsible for feeding sick and wounded sailors a thick meat and vegetable porridge known as ‘loblolly’— hence their name. All this Rosemary Sutcliff’s beloved father, a Commodore in the Royal Navy, could have told me, as she could have. Today, I just have Google for the picture  and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The  OED defines ‘loblolly’ as

Thick gruel or spoon-meat, freq. referred to as a rustic or nautical dish or simple medicinal remedy … Hence, a ship-doctor’s medicines.

The OED notes a quotation: “It makes an excellent grewell, or lob-lolly which is very soueraigne at Sea” in 1620, in a book by one Gervase Markham, entitled  Markhams farewell to husbandry: or, the enriching of all sorts of barren and steril grounds in our kingdome, to be as fruitfull ion all manner of graine, pulse, and grasse, as the best grounds… · They refer to a version printed for the “fourth time, revised, corrected, and amended, together with many new additions, and cheape experiments, 1638.” It was printed in London by Edvvard Griffin for John Harison, “at the signe of the golden Vnicorne in Pater-noster-row”.

I am embarking on a hunt got all the maps that appear in Rosemary Sutcliff books, of all types. I hope readers can help ….

Republished version 2015 of Heather, Oak and Olive

Source: Paul Dry Books

New York Public Library now has  20,000 maps online which are free to download and use. A few are of the Roman Empire”.

.Old map of Roman Empire

Source: New York Public Library map of Roman Empire

Photo of author Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Source: Medium

The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff cover

On a Bank Holiday Monday in 1988 Rosemary Sutcliff wrote in her diary a rare comment about the progress of the book she was then writing.

Another Bank Holiday! Yesterday’s wind got up again. The pups have spent the whole day yelling to be let out & chasing squirrels. … Think I see my way out of the immediate Catraeth problem, though there are still plenty ahead.

The “Catraeth problem” first surfaced in Rosemary Sutcliff’s diary on 28/8/88. It relates to a battle which features in her novel The Shining Company.


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