Since I am a writer, not an historian, I will sacrifice historical accuracy. I really very seldom have to do it, and then it is only a matter of perhaps reversing the order of two events, or something like that. But if it does come to the crunch, I will choose a good story over absolute historical accuracy.
Source: Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff by Raymond H Thompson (here, on this blog)
Posts Tagged ‘quotes’
Margaret Meek, an academic at The Institute of Education in London, wrote a monograph about Rosemary Sutcliff, and later, a tribute to her on her 70th birthday in Books for Keeps, in 1990.
There’s a revealing paragraph in the collection of stories which (Rosemary Sutcliff) edited with Monica Dickens, Is Anyone There?, where she says: `I had a lonely childhood and growing-up time. My parents loved me and I loved them, but I could never talk to them about the problems and fears and aching hopes inside me that I had most need to talk about to someone. And there was no one else.’
Writers cannot be convivial people in work time; their chosen craft is a solitary one. But to be cut off in childhood from the society of the school playground, where the gossipy tales are told, is a particular deprivation. Rosemary Sutcliff could never have been a chatty novelist. Yet her experience of being read to throughout her childhood by a sympathetic adult (her mother) bears out everything that has been researched or said about reading stories to children. If you want to understand where Rosemary Sutcliff, as a novelist, `comes from’, read The Jungle Books, Kim and The Just So Stories, preferably aloud.
… To read Rosemary Sutcliff is to discover what reading is good for. So this anniversary and this accomplishment make me ask what might be the contemporary appeal or, more simply, the enduring attraction of the historical novels for the young. After all, much has clearly changed in children’s books and reading since television became their more immediate storyteller, and novelists, now more matey and informal, adopted a more elliptical vernacular prose, in which the readers’ ease is more visible than the challenge to read … (Her) first page swings the characters into action in a situation as clear as a television image. The names of the people and places set the rules of belonging; the relations between the sexes are formally arrayed; the battles are long and fierce. Readers who are unaccustomed to the building up of suspense in poised sentences may need a helping hand … the best way into a Sutcliff narrative, a kind of initiation, is to hear it read aloud. Then you know what the author means when she says she tells her tales `from the inside’.
Source: Books For Keeps, Issue 64.
Sadly stuck behind their pay-wall are The Times Archives. In January 1983, within a long interview by Caroline Moorehead, Rosemary Sutcliff said of actually visiting battle sites:
“Modem times are a hindrance. The natural features of the land have been lost.”
Mind you, such research trips would anyway always have been a major project for her, given her severe physical disabilities. Some other quotes from Rosemary Sutcliff from the article are:
On writing her memoirs Blue Remembered Hills:
l happened to have a winter free. I was in between books. And being an only child, with far older cousins, who else is there to remember? And it was a happy childhood.
On periods of history she avoided:
I can’t get inside the medieval skin. I find the complete permeation of religious life too much for a free-thinker like myself, and beyond the eighteenth century is too cloak and dagger for my taste.
On when she wrote:
I hit that sudden post-war flowering of children’s literature and the golden age of – the Oxford University Press.
On her rocking horse, Troubador:
About 15 years ago I decided that I was old enough, ugly enough, and successful enough, to indulge my eccentricities.
I do wish the film The Eagle (2011) had been more successful with audiences, although it did recoup its costs for the film companies). The title Eagle (no ’of the Ninth’) and the changed ending grated with Sutcliff fans, although I found it a compelling film-story if not exactly Rosemary Sutcliff’s story.
I was recently reminded by a collection of quotes at the Goodreads community of something Rosemary Sutcliff once said:
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.
Other quotes they have collated include: (more…)
Alkibiades, the hero of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Flowers of Adonis, was one of the more enigmatic figures of Greek history. When this historical novel ‘for adults’ was published in 1969 by Hodder and Stoughton (costing 35 shillings in old money), Rosemary was inteviewed by The Times newspaper (Oct 27, 1969).
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 knowledge. 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 pays for your ballet lessons! The satisfaction should just be coming from the fact that you have done right.
… It is easier to give a book a historical setting, because children will take things happening then rather than right on their own doorsteps now.
Source: The Times, Oct 27, 1969, p6.
A self-described “bookseller, reader, science fiction; fantasy writer, photographer, and gluten-free cook”, who signs her “name E. M. Epps”, gave a “thumbs up” for A Circlet of Oak Leaves by Rosemary Sutcliff at her blog “This space intentionally left blank”. She wrote”
A little novella taking place in Roman Britain. A slight book, but beautifully written as I would expect from Sutcliff.
“So he took them on, through a vicious squall of slingstones. Where the ground grew too steep to ride they dropped from the horses and ran on, crouching with heads down behind their light bronze-rimmed bucklers. By the time they reached the spur, hearts and lungs bursting within them, he had no idea how many or how few were still behind him; he had no chance to look round. He did not even know that many of the horses, lightened of their riders ‘ weight, had come scrambling after them, bringing their own weapons, the stallions’ weapons of teeth and trampling hooves, into the fight. He only knew that the time came when there were no more Painted Men left alive on the spur, and that the terrible boulder [perched above them], swaying as it seemed to every breath, was still there.”