When the BBC series of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth was broadcast on TV, the BBC’s Radio Times wrote about her approach to children, books, the Romans and her hero Marcus – ‘part of me was in love with him’, she said.
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Rosemary Sutcliff speaks to BBC Radio Times about her historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth and hero Marcus
Posted in Autobiography & Biography, Newspapers, Radio, TV, Film, Video, Internet, The Eagle of the Ninth, tagged children's literature, historical fiction, quotes, writing on May 24, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Posted in Autobiography & Biography, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Mark of the Horse Lord, tagged children's literature, disability, historical fiction, quotes, young adult fiction on April 5, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Rosemary Sutcliff‘s life and work in children’s, young adult, and adult literature, including The Eagle of the Ninth, was commented upon in 2003 by one of her editors on a website which I cannot now find (and I posted this first in April last year, 2010). She did have a “mystical communion with the past”, an “uncanny sense of place” and a rude sense of humour. But she certainly did not aspire to being a romantic novelist with books “full of sex”. Nor did she feel she had been “let down” by being “crippled by Stills disease”. And her best work was not only in the first half of her career; she had award-winning books up to the end of her life.
She wrote fine books after the 1950s and 1960s, for example the award-winning Song for a Dark Queen in the 1970s, The Shining Company in the 1980s (which won The USA’s Phoenix Award in 2010), and even her last manuscript Sword Song which was published after her death in the 1990s. (more…)
Prompted by The Guardian who recently did an item where “ authors reveal the secrets of their craft … (in) … interviews with some of our most celebrated writers recorded for the British Library, I am reminded , again, that Rosemary often said that she wrote for children aged 8 to 88, and that she once spoke in an interview about the difference between writing for children and for adults:
The themes of my children’s books are mostly quite adult, and in fact the difference between writing for children and for adults is, to me at any rate, only a quite small gear change.
- Source: Townsend, John Rowe. 1971. A Sense of Story. London: Longman p. 201
- On writing: authors reveal the secrets of their craft | Books | The Guardian.
See now, for a good blade, one that will not betray the man in battle, rods of hard and soft iron must be heated and braided together. Then is the blade folded over and hammered flat again, and maybe yet again, many times for the finest blades … So the hard and soft iron are mingled without blending, before the blade is hammered up to its finished form and tempered, and ground to an edge that shall draw blood from the wind. So comes the pattern, like oil and water that mingle but do not mix. Yet it is the strength of the blade, for without the hard iron the blade would bend in battle, and without the soft iron it would break.
Source: Goodreads quotations from Rosemary Sutcliff
For a moment they stood looking at each other in the firelight, while the old harper still fingered the shining strings and the other man looked on with a gleam of amusement lurking in his watery blue eyes. But Aquila was not looking at him. He was looking only at the dark young man, seeing that he was darker even than he had thought at first, and slightly built in a way that went with the darkness, as though maybe the old blood, the blood of the People of the Hills, ran strong in him. But his eyes, under brows as straight as a raven’s flight-pinions, were not the eyes of the little Dark People, which were black and unstable and full of dreams, but a pale clear grey, lit with gold, that gave the effect of flame behind them.
from The Lantern Bearers, quoted at Goodreads
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.
Rosemary Sutcliff, a most able writer of children’s books and historical fiction (‘co-writer’ of film The Eagle (of the Ninth)), spoke of the ‘surprising loss of privacy’ when she wrote about living with her disability for the ‘Emotions in Focus’ exhibition at The Roundhouse (London) which celebrated the 1981 International Year of Disabled People.
Career-wise, I’m one of the lucky ones. My job, as a writer of books, is one of the few in which physical disability presents hardly any problems. I would claim that it presents no problems at all but my kind of book needs research, and research is more difficult for a disabled person. (more…)