Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

Historical novelist and children’s writer Rosemary Sutcliff‘s obituary in The Independent newspaper.

Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels opened the eyes of a generation of children to the past. They also set a new standard for children’s historical fiction because of their insight, passion and commitment.

Sutcliff was a demanding writer who expected a lot from her readers which is why her books are also wholly satisfying for adults. She evokes time and place with an incredibly sure touch and – once she had found her true voice with The Eagle of the Ninth in 1954 – a sharp ear for the dialogue of the past. (more…)

Read Full Post »

From a now discontinued blog by a Canadian, Robin Rowland:

The main theme of many of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books is the life of the soldier. Her father was a naval officer and she grew up in a military atmosphere. Although she was physically handicapped and spent part of her life in wheel chair, she captures the uncertain life of the intelligent human being who must become a fighter whether a member of a regular armed force or a warrior band or an individual trying to survive.

Sutlcliff had a unique viewpoint on the military, the insider who is also a somewhat removed observer, a combination of the kid sister although she had no siblings, the know-it-all cousin or neighbor, and the chronicler somewhat like Princess Irulan in Dune. Marcus Aquila Flavius thought he would be a career soldier, then finds the wound in his leg has changed his life….a fact of life facing many soldiers today. His descendent, Aquila, deserts his army to defend his home, becomes a slave and suffers throughout his life with what would, a millenia and half later, be called post traumatic stress disorder. Her soldiers are rounded human beings, with conflicting loyalties mixed with personal and family problems, always facing uncertainty in campaigns.

An academic might say that all this was reflection of the decline of the British Empire. Sutlcliff had liked Kipling as a kid and it could be said that her books are the Kipling stories of that declining empire. But as our society has become more uncertain in the years since she wrote, the books are more relevant than ever.

Read Full Post »

A Crown of Wild Olive was the new title given to the Rosemary Sutcliff story The Truce of the Games (1971) when it was re-published ,in 1972 in the USA, in an omnibus collection of stories Heather, Oak and Olive. That collection also included two other stories: The Chief”s Daughter and  A Circlet of Oak Leaves.

Omnibus book of Rosemary Sutcliff

Read Full Post »

When the BBC adapted and broadcast Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth in 1977, the BBC Radio Times wrote about her approach to children, writing, the Romans and her hero Marcus—’part of me was in love with him’.

Her passion for the Romans stemmed from her childhood. Her mother read aloud to her from books like Rudyard Kipling‘s Puck Of Pook’s Hill.  His three Roman tales entranced her.

I didn’t read myself till the last possible minute, about nine. I was brought up on Arthur Weigall’s Wanderings In Roman Britain and Wanderings In Anglo-Saxon Britain. He mentions this eagle dug up at Silchester and I’ve been fascinated by it since I was five.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Image

I have tracked down a long-out-of-print, brief story by Rosemary Sutcliff which is new to me. In a 1967 Bodley Head collection The House of the Nightmare and Other Eerie Tales, chosen by Kathleen Lines, The Man Who Died at Sea is a story about Rosemary Sutcliff’s mother (my great-aunt) and her Second Sight.  I am going to re-produce it here on the blog over several posts. It starts:

My mother was not quite like most people’s mothers. She came, as far as anybody knew, of good hard-headed North Country Saxon on both sides, but should by rights have been Irish or Highland Scots. She had what people called the ‘Celtic temperament’, up one instant and down the next, and making sure that my father and I were up and down with her. When she was down, it was as though a brown fog hung over the whole house, and when she started going up again, it was as though the sun had come out and the birds started singing. Living with her had never a dull moment, but it could be rather unnerving, for she had, unquestionably, a touch of the Second Sight, another thing one expects of a Celt more than a Saxon.

She saw our beloved old dog lying in his accustomed lace before the hall fire, six or so weeks after he died; and she heard things—the same old dog padding around  the house, even years later; footsteps and voices that weren’t there for other people; and occasionally she knew that certain things were going to happen, but they happened often enough for my father and I not to like it very much when she predicted something bad. (It generally seems to be future trouble and not rejoicings, that shows itself to the person with Second Sight.)

To be continued…..

Read Full Post »

Ursula Le Guin book cover(Adapted from first post: April 25, 2012)

On Twitter … Nick Cook quotes fantasy and science fiction author Ursula Le Guin on writing for children: “Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up!”  I was minded to find the context for the comment. It was was new to me, and Rosemary did not have children, just her appallingly untrained dogs, but I imagined she would have agreed.

Mind you, Rosemary Sutcliff did firmly resist using the word ‘kids’ for children; a kid, she used to say to me, is a young goat.

Anyway, the context is this: Le Guin wrote in an essay first published in 1979.  (more…)

Read Full Post »

Rosemary Sutcliff, author of The Eagle of the Ninth, drew on a ‘large lump of unlived childhood’ as she tried to show in her children’s books that good beats evil, and satisfaction can come from doing ‘right.  Because of  Still’s Disease she missed much usual childhood activity with long bouts of illness and many lengthy hospital stays.

I was trained at art school, but then the desire to scribble came over me. I got my interest in history from my mother who had a sort of minstrel’s, rather than historian’s knowedge. Inaccurate, but full of colourful legend. I disliked history at school.

They do say that to be a successful children’s writer one has to have a large lump of unlived childhood in one. I certainly think I have that.

You have to show children that good does overcome evil, but that does not necessarily mean that the old lady you helped then paid for your ballet lessons. The satisfaction should just be coming from the fact that you have done right.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,065 other followers