I was very happy this past weekend to find that two of my granddaughters, too young yet to be reading independently, are such good listeners they can recite their favourite books by heart. I particularly enjoyed joining in with Audrey’s rendition of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, although I don’t know that she approved of my doing it with a Kelvinside accent. Two year olds often prefer a vanilla delivery.
Listening is a dying art, especially for children growing up in homes with several TV sets. Watching is an entirely different skill. It’s hard to imagine them rushing to tune in to the radio as my generation did in the Fifties, eager for the next episode of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth. There was no spin-off DVD. You had to imagine the scene for yourself.
Archive for the ‘Other Authors’ Category
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. (See here for previous post).
Regular commenter here and Rosemary Sutcliff enthusiast Anne has reminded me (via the You Write tab above) of this, and alerted me to some intriguing homage, newly paid. For Anne was ‘tickled’ when reading Lindsey Davis’s latest novel, Master and God, to find a nod to Rosemary Sutcliff when a soldier mentions a legionary marching song. It appears again in the acknowledgements at the back: “The Girl I Kissed at Clusium”’: The Legionary Song in The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.
In Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel the snatches of song are:
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
(Thank you Anne)
From the Guardian Books website:
What does a good novel do for you? Make you laugh? Make you cry, gasp, clutch the pages, miss your stop on the bus? Well, yes. All of those things. But I like a novel that also illuminates a corner of the real world that I hardly knew existed, and brings it to life.
Good historical novels do that. Geoffrey Trease hard-wired ancient Greece into my imagination and Rosemary Sutcliff did the honours for Roman Britain. (more…)
It has probably been long forgotten, indeed unknown to most people, including current staff at her publishers Hodder and Stoughton, that around 1970 they published The Hodder and Stoughton Library of Great Historical Novels, chosen by Rosemary Sutcliff. One was Scent of Cloves by Norah Lofts (first published in 1958). At the end of her introduction, Rosemary Sutcliff wrote:
This is a very difficult book to write about. (more…)
The serendipitous ‘Letters of Note’ blog publishes ‘correspondence deserving of a wider audience’. It introduced a C S Lewis letter withe the comment that “what’s admirable is that he attempted to reply to each and every one of those pieces of fan mail, and not just with a generic, impersonal line “. So too did Rosemary Sutcliff, although I only have a couple of examples. (There must be several thousand out in the world in draws and treasure boxes). Lewis’s advice to a Narnia fan about writing was:
What really matters is:
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Rosemary Sutcliff used to describe herself, happily, as a teller of stories. I frequently speak of her as a story-teller, and sometimes as story-maker; and I have assumed that any writer would be pleased to be called a storyteller. But I was wrong: this is Colm Tóibín in The Guardian last week.
I dislike being called a storyteller, and resent the implication that I come from a world where the oral tradition, something primitive and unformed, remained strong or intact. This was not true; the oral tradition was not strong in the place where I grew up. I was brought up in a house where there was a great deal of silence. When my father died, his name was hardly ever mentioned again. It was too much that he had died, too hard; his absence was too palpable, too sad. So it entered the realm of what you thought about and did not speak of, a realm I remain very comfortable in to this day.
In April Christopher Posner posted at the ‘You Write’ page (see tab above) that I might like to add to the ‘Rosemary Sutcliff influenced and inspired’ list the English author Lynne Ellison, who wrote the novel The Green Bronze Mirror, about a teenage girl who goes back in time to ancient Rome, at the age of 14. So I do, belatedly! He alerted me that Lynne is still alive and living in Sheffield (UK). Her account of how she came to write this book, as well as an extract from it are available here.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the national newspaper of the same name, claims that “The Telegraph Bath Festival Of Children’s Literature has become one of the most important events for children’s literature in the world.” Is this true? Regular, or indeed occasional, readers of this blog may have better knowledge than I …
Apparently The Telegraph has been the media and title sponsor since the first event in 2007 – and this year’s festival in Bath features, according to them, some of the biggest names in children’s fiction. Roddy Doyle, Jeremy Strong, Judith Kerr, Cressida Cowell, Andy Stanton, David McKee and Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson (who was at the first festival) are just a few of the authors who will be taking part in events over 10 days.
The Festival runs from Friday 23rd September 2011 until Sunday 2nd October. We had better get some attention to Rosemary Sutcliff!
My all time favourite author, though, has to be Rosemary Sutcliff, especially her The Eagle of the Ninth and The Mark of the Horse Lord. She has such a beautiful way of using words.
- Rediscovering Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels | FInding Dawn Wind
- Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind reprinted in April 2013 by OUP
- Richard Pitt Kennedy | Illustrator of history novelist Rosemary Sutcliff’s Outcast in 1955
- Garden of house of Rosemary Sutcliff in Walberton, West Sussex
- Rosemary Sutcliff Diary | March 14th 1992
rosemary sutcliff tagsAncient Greece Arthurian birds book cover books Bronze Age Carnegie Medal Catraeth children's books children's literature Dark & Midddle Ages disability Doctor Who dogs English Civil War Falco family fantasy films friends garden health historical fiction history legends letters libraries Manda Scott movie music nature Olympic Olympics quotes research Romans Saxon science fiction storytelling translation Truce of the Games Vikings weather writing young adult fiction
- With day job as @mwwarden re Mary Ward Legal Centre doing London #legalwalk tday |Any chance RS lovers could sponsor? bit.ly/16JeQjv | 3 days ago
- RT @GuardianBooks: 50 authors have annotated their own works to be auctioned by @englishpen. Browse a selection - in pictures http://t.co/H… | 5 days ago
- Rosemary Sutcliff was wonderfully creative, in storytelling, collage, miniatures painting. She'd have agreed with gu.com/p/3gvf6/tw ? | 5 days ago
- Check this out from daughter-in-law, the wonderful Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo t.opsp.in/p0SnH | 1 week ago
- RT @WhisperingBob: Loving @emilybarkerhalo with @radioleary onstage at Hackney Empire on @BBCRadio2 #2Day http://t.co/Un41g0d80y | 1 week ago
- RT @FurnissLawton: How authors used to collect press cuttings - 'sword at sunset' by @rsutcliff published 1963. Rosemary's scrapbook http:/… | 2 weeks ago
- RT @FurnissLawton: A lovely pic of @rsutcliff at her writing desk with Sophie in 1990 http://t.co/VbgOYpvqA4 | 2 weeks ago
- Rediscovering Rosemary Sutcliff's novels | FInding Dawn Wind wp.me/p42Yg-2uq | 1 month ago
rosemary sutcliff’s signature
in praise of rosemary sutcliff
Guardian newspaper editorial 'in praise of' Rosemary Sutcliff, published in 2011,
Rosemary Sutcliff's 1954 children's classic The Eagle of the Ninth (still in print more than 50 years on) is the first of a series of novels in which Sutcliff, who died in 1992, explored the cultural borderlands between the Roman and the British worlds – "a place where two worlds met without mingling" as she describes the British town to which Marcus, the novel's central character, is posted.
Marcus is a typical Sutcliff hero, a dutiful Roman who is increasingly drawn to the British world of "other scents and sights and sounds; pale and changeful northern skies and the green plover calling". This existential cultural conflict gets even stronger in later books like The Lantern Bearers and Dawn Wind, set after the fall of Rome, and has modern resonance. But Sutcliff was not just a one-trick writer.
The range of her novels spans from the Bronze Age and Norman England to the Napoleonic wars. Two of her best, The Rider of the White Horse and Simon, are set in the 17th century and are marked by Sutcliff's unusually sympathetic (for English historical novelists of her era) treatment of Cromwell and the parliamentary cause. Sutcliff's finest books find liberal-minded members of elites wrestling with uncomfortable epochal changes. From Marcus Aquila to Simon Carey, one senses, they might even have been Guardian readers.
Hilary Phillips on You write! Anthony on Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn… Anthony on You write! Hilary Phillips on You write! Robert Vermaat on Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn… Dusk Peterson on Rosemary Sutcliff On Changing… Anthony on I kissed a girl at Clusium | F…