When the BBC series of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth was broadcast on TV, the BBC’s Radio Times wrote about her approach to children, books, the Romans and her hero Marcus – ‘part of me was in love with him’, she said.
Archive for the ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’ Category
Rosemary Sutcliff speaks to BBC Radio Times about her historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth and hero Marcus
Posted in Autobiography & Biography, Newspapers, Radio, TV, Film, Video, Internet, The Eagle of the Ninth, tagged children's literature, historical fiction, quotes, writing on May 24, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Australian writer Nansi Kunze wrote at Michael Pryor’s blog about her “favourite book”, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Warrior Scarlet. The author of Dangerously Placed (‘Can a hippy chick, a goth girl in a lab coat and two guys with a taste for blowing things up really help solve the mystery – before Alex becomes the next victim?’) and Mishaps (‘Why does Pen’s name strike terror into the heart of pop princess Sereena? And just how far will Pen go to get what she deserves?’), grew up in both Australia and the UK.
I think I must have been ten when I began to read Rosemary Sutcliff’s books. It was a strange time for me – a confusing and somewhat lonely one. My parents had split up, and we had gone back to England, leaving my friends, my school and the various treasures a ten-year-old deems precious behind in Australia. (more…)
Fugitive Ink blog by Barendina Smedley tackles issues of politics, art and literature “from an unapologetically idiosyncratic, vaguely High Tory perspective.”
Amongst the lesser pleasures of parenthood should be numbered the opportunity, not only to re-visit the favourite books of one’s own early childhood … but also … the opportunity to encounter as an adult the children’s books one missed in childhood. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth very much a case in point.
She goes on to write a long, fascinating piece about her reading of the novel – but I would have called this one of the greater pleasures of parenthood!
Lindsey Davis writes detective novels set in classical Rome, featuring the world of maverick private eye and poet Falco. On the publication in 2009 of the nineteenth of what became a bestselling series of novels known for their meticulous historical detail, she chose Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth as one of her top ten Roman books.
‘Somewhere about the year 117AD, the Ninth Legion, which was stationed at Eboracum, where York now stands, marched north to deal with a rising among the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again.’ Hooked? If not, there’s no hope for you. A wonderful novel, for children of all ages.
The Eagle of the Ninth was published in 1954, the year I was born, but I must have read it for the first time when I was 12 or 13, just after my Tolkien phase. Like many other Sutcliff fans, I was gripped by this story of a young man travelling from the soft south of Roman Britain to the wilds beyond Hadrian’s Wall where the Scots were still very independent indeed. Marcus Flavius Aquila is on a mission to find out what happened to his father’s legion, the 9th Hispana, which marched north into the Caledonian mists and was never seen again. (more…)
Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth is currently ‘in print’ in English throughout the world published by OUP (Oxford University Press), and in twelve other languages (Language -Publisher):
Dutch – Facet
French – Gallimard
German – Freies Geistesleben
Greek – Aiora
Japan – Iwanami Shoten
Korean – Sigongsa
Portuguese – Gradiva
Portuguese (Brazil) – Record
Romanian – Literar
Russian – Azbooka
Spanish – Plataforma
Swedish – Barnstenen
Turkish – Ithaki
I am not persuaded that this commentator correctly characterises Esca’s relationship with Marcus in Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth. Rosemary’s view of the slave-master relationship is not a ‘romantic’ one. Nor did the film The Eagle ‘fail’, although it was not as successful in the eyes of all the critics and with audiences as was intended by the makers! But there is ‘a lot of … provocation’ to be gained from the comments as well as the book!
I love ancient Roman history but Sutcliff writes so clearly and articulately that I don’t think a young reader, without knowledge of this period, is at a real disadvantage, except maybe in terms of their interest. Americans are predominantly interested in American history, of course, and there is a long and very rich tradition of children’s American historical fiction. A lot of it focuses on the slave experience, but Eagle takes the opposite view. Here, perhaps, is where the book might run into trouble with a non-British readership: Esca, Marcus’ slave, is written quite romantically, as a devoted indentured servant who would follow his owner to the ends of the earth. This is very out of sync with most modern literature (for obvious reasons) and really dates the book. It is a unique challenge for young readers to imagine this story from Esca’s perspective, and I think a really valuable exercise. The somewhat-recent film version starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell is decidedly not child-friendly but at the same time works to rectify these elements.
I truly believe that this element of the book should not stop modern readers from enjoying this text. Maybe it’s a bit optimistic of me, but I really do think that there’s a lot of enjoyment and provocation to be gained from this book and I hope that the failure of the film (well… I liked it… no one else did) doesn’t dissuade you from enjoying it. ★ ★ ★ ★ /5
Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novel for children The Lantern Bearers won The Carnegie Medal in 1959
Posted in Autobiography & Biography, Awards, Song for a Dark Queen, The Eagle of the Ninth Book, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Shining Company, Tristan and Iseult, tagged books, Carnegie Medal on April 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Rosemary Sutcliff won the Library Association Carnegie Medal in 1959 for her historical novel for children (“aged 8 to 88″ in her view) The Lantern Bearers. The Medal is awarded every year in the UK to the writer of an outstanding book for children. First awarded to Arthur Ransome for Pigeon Post, the medal is now awarded by CILIP: The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Both the Carnegie Medal and its sister award, the Kate Greenaway Medal are awarded annually. The 2012 shortlist was recently announced, and the winners will be named on Thursday 14th June.
The Library Association started the prize in 1936, in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA. The winner now receives a golden medal and some £500 worth of books to donate to a library of their choice. Rosemary Sutcliff also won or was nominated for many other awards in the UK and USA. (She won other awards in translation). She
- Was runner-up for Carnegie Medal for Tristan and Iseult in 1972
- Won the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for Tristan and Iseult in 1972
- Was highly commended by the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1974
- Won The Other Award for Song for a Dark Queen in 1978
- Won The Phoenix Children’s Book Award for The Mark of the Horse Lord in 1985, and The Shining Company in 2010
- For the story of The Lantern Bearers see here
- Click here for more posts about The Lantern Bearers
David Urbach has pointed me to a blogger’s 10/10 review of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth.
Rosemary Sutcliff’s most famous book ought to be looked at in two different ways, and judged on two levels. Firstly, any reader venturing into historical fiction will be instantly drawn to it as a deserving classic. Every word of praise afforded The Eagle of the Ninth is surely deserved, and every criticism should be scrutinised heavily. This book is not only a simple story; it is a revelation. It is a sudden meeting between the children’s and young adults’ fiction of the ’80s and ’90s, when children’s literature began to be taken seriously; and literature from the early twentieth century and the nineteenth century, when writers felt able to wax philosophic and lyrical, and were not so concerned with spending a hundred pages on diligently establishing a scene and building meticulously to a grand climax or a cheap twist.
Source: The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff | Library of Libation
- More on Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth
- More reviews of children’s literature by Rosemary Sutcliff
All of which set me thinking about poems and songs in Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels. Such as the snatches of a legionnaires’ song in The Eagle of the Ninth.
Oh when I joined the Eagles
(As it might be yesterday)
I kissed a girl at Clusium
Before I marched away
A long march, a long march
And twenty years in store
When I left my girl at Clusium
Beside the threshing-floor
The girls of Spain were honey-sweet,
And the golden girls of Gaul:
And the Thracian maids were soft as birds
To hold the heart in thrall.
But the girl I kissed at Clusium
Kissed and left at Clusium,
The girl I kissed at Clusium
I remember best of all