Posted in Arthurian, Books and Stories, Criticism, Research, and Reviews, The Eagle of the Ninth Book, The Lantern Bearers, The Light Beyond the Forest, The Road to Camlann, The Shining Company, The Sword and the Circle, Tristan and Iseult, tagged Arthurian on December 23, 2013 |
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Raymond H. Thompson (Author) interviewed Rosemary Sutcliff for the periodical Avalon to Camelot in 1986. In the introduction he wrote:
Though perhaps best known for historical novels set in Roman Britain, such as The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), Rosemary Sutcliff has written some of the finest contemporary recreations of the Arthurian story. She introduces us to Arthur in The Lantern Bearers (1959), a book for younger readers that won the Carnegie Medal, and in Sword at Sunset (1963) she continues his tale in his own words. She has also retold the Arthurian legend with clarity and elegance in Tristan and Iseult (1971), The Light Beyond the Forest (1979), The Sword and the Circle (1981), and The Road to Camlann (1981). Her later novels were set in the more recent past, but she returned to Dark Age Britain for her … novel The Shining Company (London: Bodley Head), which is based upon the Gododdin. This poem, composed about 600 A.D. in North Britain by the bard Aneirin to commemorate a band of British warriors who fell in battle against the Angles, is of special interest in that it provides us with the earliest mention of Arthur’s name and Sutcliff’s novel preserves the Arthurian echoes.
Source: Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff | Robbins Library Digital Projects.
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The Times newspaper published in mid-2013 a list of the top 50 ‘books that all children should read’, which included Rosemary Sutcliff’sThe Eagle of the Ninth (at number 27). Of course all such lists reflect the preferred reading of the selection panel and it is good, indeed essential, to know who was on the panel. In this case it was: Amanda Craig (then Times children’s books critic), Lucy Coats (author), Wendy Cooling (founder of Bookstart), Tom Gatti (Times Saturday Review editor), Katherine Langrish (blogger and author), Anthony McGowan (author), and Nicholas Tucker (children’s literature specialist). Their list:
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
- The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
- The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
- The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
- The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
- Just William by Richmal Crompton
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
- The Midnight Folk by John Masefield
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
- Stories for Children by Oscar Wilde
- Hellbent by Anthony McGowan
- The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban
- Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
- The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
- The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
- The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White
- The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
- The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
- The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
- The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate by Margaret Mahy
- Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
- How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
- Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin
- The Borrowers by Mary Norton
- The Snow-walker’s Son by Catherine Fisher
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
- Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond
- Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
- Vice Versa by F. Anstey
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd
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Robin Rowland used to write a blog about his writing life (he was a TV journalist) called The Garret Tree. Some eight years ago he posted “When I waited for Rosemary Sutcliff”.
When I was a kid, Rosemary Sutcliff was my J. K. Rowling. In the early 1960s, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Sutcliff. I lived in northern British Columbia and the waiting involved finding out when the book would arrive in the public library. In Kitimat, British Columbia, a town carved out of the bush, there were no bookstores. The local variety store and the stationary store both carried popular paperbacks delivered at the same time as magazines.
For me, Rosemary Sutcliff created a world just as magic as Rowling’s. Somewhat like Hogwarts and Harry it was an alternative British universe. Many of her books followed one scattered family for a millennium or more, through the history of Britain from the ancient Celts through the Roman conquest and occupation, the collapse of the empire, the Saxon invasion and into the Middle Ages. It was both familiar (especially since my parents were British) and (more…)
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Historian, writer and journalist Christina Hardyment reflected on Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff in response to the anniversary edition of Sutcliff’s Arthurian adult novel – an ‘odd one out’.
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.
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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.
- North east wall
Find the whole article and all the photographs on his blog here.
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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 |
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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.
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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.”
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