Posts Tagged ‘Carnegie Medal’

I am trying to make accurate my list of all book awards Rosemary Sutcliff was given or nominated for. This is my summary so far: can readers help me expand and improve it?
  • 1959: The Carnegie Medal, The Lantern Bearers
  • 1968: The Hans Christian Andersen Award, nominated
  • 1971: Zilveren Griffel – The Silver Pencil, in Holland
  • 1972: The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Tristan and Iseult
  • 1974: The Hans Christian Andersen Award, highly commended
  • 1978: The Other Award, Song for a Dark Queen (A children’s book award focusing on anti-sexist, anti-racist titles in the UK).
  • 1985: The Phoenix Award, The Mark of the Horse Lord
  • 2010: The Phoenix Award, The Shining Company

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That The Eagle of the Ninth author Rosemary Sutcliff won The Carnegie Medal just over 50 years ago (for her historical novel The Lantern Bearers) came to mind when I stumbled upon the long list of nominations for 2010 (STOP PRESS and now shortlist). Rosemary Sutcliff fan Philip Reeve is nominated for Fever Crumb (STOP PRESS now shortlisted, and an interview with Philip Reeve here). (more…)

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Rosemary Sutcliff ‘s The Lantern Bearers won the Carnegie Medal for children’s literature. It is a  historical novel for children and young people. One American reviewer, Victoria Strauss, a writer of fantasy fiction, thought Sutcliff’The Lantern Bearers a ‘wonderful book’, having discovered Rosemary ‘s books in her early teens.

I discovered Rosemary Sutcliff in my early teens, and she quickly became one of my favorite authors. I can still vividly recapture the magic of reading her books. It was a real pleasure to return to The Lantern Bearers, which I first read when I was about thirteen, and find the magic still intact.

Published in 1959 and reprinted several times since, The Lantern Bearers is set in the seventh century A.D., at the close of the Roman period in Britain. When the last Roman troops are recalled to Italy, Aquila, the young commander of a troop of cavalry, discovers that his love of his native Britain is stronger than his loyalty to a distant empire he has never seen. He deserts, and returns home. But the Saxon threat is looming, and soon after his return, Aquila’s home is overrun by Saxon raiders. His father is killed and his sister Flavia kidnapped, and he himself is captured and made a thrall in a Saxon household. Three years later, he and Flavia meet again in a Saxon camp, and Aquila discovers that she has married a Saxon and has had a child. Though she helps Aquila to escape, he cannot forgive her for what he sees as a profoundly dishonorable surrender to the enemy.

Bitter at Flavia’s betrayal and consumed with hatred for the Saxons, Aquila travels north to offer his service to Ambrosius, a Celtic prince who is the last inheritor of Roman authority in Britain. Over the fifteen years that follow, Aquila takes part in the long battle to throw the Saxon invaders back into the sea–years of suffering and sacrifice but also of love and friendship, in the course of which Aquila learns to relinquish his bitterness, and to better understand his sister’s choice. In the end, the decisive victory is won, and Ambrosius is crowned High King of Britain–a final defiant lifting of the light of Romano-Celtic civilization against the encroaching barbarian dark.

The Lantern Bearers is a wonderful book. Sutcliff possesses a unique gift for character and description, evoking a sense of place and person so intense that the reader can almost see her characters and the world in which they move. She has a matchless ability to establish historical context without a surfeit of the “let’s learn a history lesson now” exposition that mars many historical novels for young people. Her books are never less than meticulously researched, but her recreation of the past is so effortless that one has no sense of academic exercise, but rather of a world as close and immediate as everyday.

The Lantern Bearers isn’t truly a fantasy novel, but it does touch upon one of the great fantasy themes: Arthur, future High King of Britain, whom Aquila first encounters as a child in Ambrosius’s camp. The Arthurian theme was one of Sutcliff’s favorites: she produced several young adult books on the subject, as well as a beautiful adult novel, Sword at Sunset, to my mind one of the best ever written in this genre. But the Sutcliff’s Arthur is rooted as much in history as in myth–not just the tragic king of Le Morte d’Arthur or the heroic/magical figure of traditional Arthurian fantasy, but a man who might actually have existed, heir both to the memory of Rome and to the last great flowering of Celtic power in Britain.

In the course of her career, Sutcliff wrote nearly forty books (Poster’s note: Actually  over 60.) Many of them are still in print, testifying to her enduring popularity. It is richly merited: she is, quite simply, one of the best.

Used with permission of Victoria Strauss

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Historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff won the top UK  literary children’s book award from the Library Association, the  Carnegie Medal, for The Lantern Bearers in 1959. The Carnegie Medal is awarded every year in the UK to the writer of an outstanding book for children. (more…)

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Rosemary Sutcliff won the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for Tristan and Iseult in 1972. She also won the (UK) Library Association Carnegie Award for The Lantern Bearers in 1959; was highly commended by the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1974, and nominated in 1968; the  Phoenix Children’s Book Award for The Mark of the Horse Lord in 1985, and for The Shining Company in 2010; and the The Carnegie Medal for the Lantern Bearers in 1959.

  • More about awards won by Rosemary Sutcliff here on this blog.

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