Rosemary Sutcliff is most famed for The Eagle of the Ninth, but there was much more to her than that. In the 1950s, historically-minded children found her books a magic carpet into the past. I began with Brother Dusty-feet (1952) and The Armourer’s House (1951), and never looked back an insatiable interest in history has remained the backbone of my life.
In 1954, The Eagle of the Ninth introduced Marcus Flavius Aquila, a young Roman who chooses to stay in Britain after the legions leave. Seven subsequent books follow his family’s fate, usually directly. The odd book out is the fifth, Sword at Sunset, now published in a new edition to celebrate its 50th birthday. In 1963, it was firmly announced to be for adults, and given the (for their time) graphic and violent scenes of sex and slaughter, it deserved to be.
Archive for the ‘The Eagle of the Ninth Book’ Category
Three years ago Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth inspired one blogger to go exploring!
The Roman History Reading Group’s first read for 2010 is Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, part of which is set in Calleva Atrebatum. As it’s quite near where my parents live, I set out one cold and frosty morning to have a look at what remains of Calleva Atrebatum today. The remains are near the village of Silchester, not far from Reading.
Calleva Atrebatum means something like “the Atrebates’ town in the woods” (not that different from Silchester!). The Atrebates were a Celtic tribe living in this area, with links to a tribe of the same name living in Gaul. Although the town itself has disappeared, its walls are still standing. It took me about 2 hours to walk the circuit of 2.8 km, but that was with lots of stops for photographs. The shape is roughly speaking a diamond with the top point at the North.
Find the whole article and all the photographs on his blog here.
Rosemary Sutcliff Facebook-likers vigorously criticise Booktrust so-called ‘Best 100 children’s books of last 100 years’ | No Rosemary Sutcliff on it!
Posted in Autobiography & Biography, Capricorn Bracelet, Readers, Simon, Sun Horse, Moon Horse, Sutcliff Discovery of the Day, Sword at Sunset, Sword Song, The Capricorn Bracelet, The Eagle of the Ninth Book, The Lantern Bearers, The Light Beyond the Forest, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Shining Company, Warrior Scarlet on November 12, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Over at the Facebook page for Rosemary Sutcliff readers have been robust about the error of The Booktrust’s ways in excluding Rosemary Sutcliff from their attempt to list the 100 best children’s books of the last 100 years. I asked for help in compiling a broadside.
I’m not sure this will help, but the books I enjoyed when I was 11 still engage me at 63! I’ve never felt that Rosemary Sutcliff writes for children alone. There’s probably no more poignant tale than The Lantern Bearers. Also, she has a talent for dialogue in an historical context which is unsurpassed. Most children’s authors have nothing remotely like it. (Roy Marshall)
Rosemary Sutcliff’s books last in the mind and heart. I am 63 now and they stand out as Beacons from my childhood. I have reread many in mid and later life and they are even better. I am with Roy, The Lantern Bearers is my favourite – so evocative and of our own end times too. (Rob Patterson)
Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman books, starting with the Eagle of the Ninth (but I read all the others – The Mark of the Horse Lord was probably the one that really inspired me), were one of the influences that led me to study archaeology.
A quotation from Rosemary Sutcliff at the goodreads site - unfortunately without a reference (does anyone know it?) – gave me pause for thought as I reflected upon the changed ending to the story of The Eagle of the Ninth for the film The Eagle. Perhaps that is a reason after all to celebrate that the film was not (in English) called The Eagle of the Ninth. But perhaps also I should not have been so sanguine about the changed ending when asked to comment by the press when the film came out a couple of years ago now. In any event, this is a thought-provoking note on which to re-energise this blog, now that I am six months into my stint with a new day-job! To regulars….apologies for the silence….and to commenters….apologies for some long delays in approving so that comments are published.
“I do not think that you can be changing the end of a song or a story like that, as though it were quite separate from the rest. I think the end of a story is part of it from the beginning.”
My 1977 copy of The Eagle of the Ninth (by Rosemary Sutcliff) still has the entry from the Radio Times (with a photo of Anthony Higgins as Marcus … ) glued inside the front cover. I’ve also got a page torn out of the Radio Times lurking somewhere – I was nine at the time and it made a really big impression on me. I’m now an archaeologist who really doesn’t have much time for Romans, but when I re-read The Eagle of the Ninth last year, I still found Marcus a really lovely – and yet at the same time convincingly Roman – character.
Oh, and I remember there was that bit with the dream where the ghost legionaries turned round and had skulls instead of faces. That stayed with me for YEARS!! I was freaked out by skeletons for decades afterwards (though I’ve grown out of that little foible now, thank goodness!)
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…)
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