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Archive for the ‘The Witch's Brat’ Category

To mark World Book Day 2014 yesterday, Richard Davies of AbeBooks.co.uk chose ten ‘must-read’ children’s classics that can be bought secondhand for less than £1 each. One was The Witch’s Brat by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Famous for her historical fiction and retelling or myths and legends, Sutcliff transports readers to 12th century England in The Witch’s Brat, the tale of Lovel the outcast.

Lovel, the crippled hero of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s The Witch’s Brat, is driven from his village in a shower of stones after his grandmother’s death. (The) novel (is) … crammed with careful period detail and research, the painstaking catalogues of herb-lore brought grippingly to life by the characters to whom they bring such danger.

Writing for The Guardian in 2011 Imogen Russell Williams explored the enchantments of witch fiction. Of The Witch’s Brat  she wrote:

 … Lovel, the crippled hero of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat, is driven from his village in a shower of stones after his grandmother’s death.  Both novels are crammed with careful period detail and research, the painstaking catalogues of herb-lore brought grippingly to life by the characters to whom they bring such danger.

The other titles in the top ten were:  (more…)

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Stimulated by an article in The Guardian which recalled Rahere in The Witch’s Brat, I am trying to track down all the nuns, monks and friars in the historical novels and children’s books by Rosemary Sutcliff. Commenters at the Facebook page on Rosemary Sutcliff associated with this blog are helping … can you (if you have not already!)?

Monks, friars and nuns in Rosemary Sutcliff's books

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Yesterday’s article by Imogen Russell Williams in The Guardian about monks in children’s fiction sent me back to my copy of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat, which features Imogen Russell’s favourite, Rahere.  I was reminded that the historical novel is dedicated to “Margaret” – my mother, I believe, who trained and work at Barts, the modern Saint Bartholomew’s hospital. Rosemary Sutcliff’s foreword points out that you can visit the tomb of Rahere in the Church of Saint Batholomew the Great, in Smithfield, London.

His figure lies there carved in stone, in the dress of an Austin Canon, and at his head and feet kneel two small figures in the same dress, reading from Latin Bibles: ‘For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

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The Witch's Brat by Rosemary Sutcliff (Inside cover)In The Guardian today, Imogen Russell Williams writes about memorable holy men – both saintly and sinful – who ‘walk the hushed cloisters of children’s fiction’. Her favourite is from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s work. Rahere’s tomb is at the Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great, in Smithfield, London.

My favourite of all not-quite-fictional monks comes late to his calling – Rahere, Henry I’s one-time jongleur, who later became an Augustinian canon and founded St Bartholomew’s hospital. In The Witch’s Brat, Rosemary Sutcliff creates a seductive, imaginative portrait of a charismatic and difficult man, gifted in demanding the best from people even when it’s almost too painful to give. It’s Rahere who gives Lovel, the titular protagonist, hope that he may become a healer, rather than remaining an unwell burden on the priory that takes him in. He’s dark, slender, encountered first in motley and then in the sober canon’s habit … it dawns on me that perhaps my early monastic yearnings might have had something to do with a hopeless passion for a jester-turned-ascetic.

Other monks she cites include Brother Snail in Pate Walsh’s The Crowfield Curse; a monk in Thom Madley’s fantasy about  life in Glastonbury, Marco’s Pendulum; and the abbot in Terry Jones’s ‘gloriously surreal’ Nicobobinus.

Source: Force of habit: who are your favourite fictional monks?

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Lovel, the crippled hero of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s The Witch’s Brat, is driven from his village in a shower of stones after his grandmother’s death. (The) novel (is) … crammed with careful period detail and research, the painstaking catalogues of herb-lore brought grippingly to life by the characters to whom they bring such danger.

via The enchantments of witch fiction | guardian.co.uk.

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Lovel, the crippled hero of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat, is driven from his village in a shower of stones after his grandmother’s death.  Both novels are crammed with careful period detail and research, the painstaking catalogues of herb-lore brought grippingly to life by the characters to whom they bring such danger.

via The enchantments of witch fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk.

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Award winning children’s novelist Rosemary Sutcliff lived most of her life in Sussex. Some of her stories are set in the county and mention the South Downs, a large protected area of Sussex countryside. I discovered that she is in the ‘featured writers’ section of www.southdownsonline.org, along with H.G Wells, Rudyard Kipling and Virginia Woolf.

For much of her adult life she lived in Walberton. The remains of Iron Age forts, Roman villas and Norman castles in the county inspired her to set many of her stories in Sussex.

Warrior Scarlet is set in the Iron Age. Some of the action takes place near Cissbury Ring. At one point, the hero, Drem, fails his test to become a warrior and is sent off to be a shepherd. Sheep on the Downs were looked after in a very similar way until about 100 years or so ago. The South Downs Society paid for the restoration of a traditional wheeled shepherd’s hut in 1980 and for a shepherd’s room in 1989, both at the Weald and Downland Museum.

In The Witch’s Brat the hero is thrown out of his tribe and walks along the South Downs to Winchester. Here he finds shelter in the New Minster, better known as Winchester Cathedral. He ends up in London where he helps with the setting up of St. Bartholomew’s hospital.

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