Posts Tagged ‘Ancient Greece’

E-Book cover of The Flowers of Adonis by Rosemary Sutcliff, 2014 edition

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Endeavour Press have now republished in E form Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical fiction novel The Flowers of Adonis, about Alkibiades, who The Times in an interview to mark its publication in 1969 called “one of the most enigmatic figures in Greek History”. It is a novel of the Peloponnesian War, and Alkibiades’s relationship with Athens, and the dreadful battle at Syracuse.
Times Oct 27 1969 on Rosemary Sutcliff


  • Source: The Times, October 27, 1969, p6

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Poor research: I clipped this from a newspaper in 2010, but I did not note which one!

(But see comments below for more details)

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US Edition of Rosemary Sutcliff’s  Black Ships Before Troy (2005)

One of the 20th century’s great writers of historical fiction for children died in 1992 from a disabling disease that had confined her to a wheelchair for much of her working life. (Blog editor’s note: actually, she did not die from Still’s disease!). Yet Rosemary Sutcliff produced many outstanding works of fiction over a 40-year-period — most notably her cycle of novels which dealt with the Roman occupation of Britain. The last two books that she completed were children’s versions of Homer.

The first of these, Black Ships Before Troy, her version of the Iliad, is now out. Like all her books, it is an intellectually-taxing read — but it also manages to sort out some of the complicated strands of Homer’s often digressive narrative. This helps children to see the characters of the great protagonists all the more clearly.

The illustrations by Alan Lee do the book a great service. At their best, they have the confident sweep and pomp of Victorian narrative painting.

  • Source: The Economist, December 4, 1993

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Someone recently asked me if there were other novels by Rosemary Sutcliff set in the Bronze Age , apart from Warrior Scarlet. This set me thinking. Helped by a livejournal posting I came across a while back, and based on my own reading (some of it too long ago), I came up with this list—exceluding the re-tellings such as Beowulf. I imagine regular readers here can improve it? Anything missing?

Bronze and Iron Age
The Chief’s Daughter
Shifting Sands

Warrior Scarlet
Sun Horse, Moon Horse

Ancient Greece
The Flowers of Adonis
The Truce of the Games (A Crown of Wild Olive)

Roman Britain
Song for a Dark Queen
Eagle’s Egg
The Capricorn Bracelet
The Eagle of the Ninth
The Mark of the Horse Lord
A Circlet of Oak Leaves
The Silver Branch
Frontier Wolf

The Dark Ages
The Lantern Bearers
Sword at Sunset
The Sword and the Circle

The Light Beyond the Forest
The Road to Camlann
Dawn Wind
The Shining Company

Sword Song
Blood Feud

The Shield Ring
Knight’s Fee
The Witch’s Brat

Elizabethan and 16th century
The Armourer’s House
The Queen Elizabeth Story
Brother Dusty-Feet
Lady In Waiting

English Civil War and 17th century
The Rider of the White Horse
Bonnie Dundee

18th century
Flame-Coloured Taffeta

19th century
Blood and Sand

(Additions  9/3/14)

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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.

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Omnibus book of Rosemary SutcliffRosemary Sutcliff children’s book and story A Crown of Wild Olive (The Truce of the Games) tells the story of the Olympics.In fact, it is the newer title of a book originally published as The Truce of the Games. The tale is of two athletes from different ways of life who discover the meaning of friendship as they compete against each other in the ancient Olympic games. A Crown of Wild Olive was published in the collection Heather, Oak, and Olive  (1972).

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