Rosemary Sutcliff

Last updated

Rosemary Sutcliff
Rosemary Sutcliff seated.jpg
Rosemary Sutcliff
Born(1920-12-14)14 December 1920
East Clandon, Surrey, England
Died23 July 1992(1992-07-23) (aged 71)
Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK
OccupationWriter
Genre Children's historical fiction, myth and legend
Notable works
Notable awards Carnegie Medal
1959
Horn Book Award
1972
Phoenix Award
1985, 2010
Website
rosemarysutcliff.wordpress.com

Rosemary Sutcliff CBE (14 December 1920 – 23 July 1992) was an English novelist best known for children's books, especially historical fiction and retellings of myths and legends. Although she was primarily a children's author, some of her novels were specifically written for adults. In a 1986 interview she said, "I would claim that my books are for children of all ages, from nine to ninety." [1]

Contents

For her contribution as a children's writer Sutcliff was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1974. [2] [3]

Biography

Sutcliff was born 14 December 1920 to George Ernest Sutcliff and his wife Nessie Elizabeth, née Lawton, in East Clandon, Surrey. [4] She spent her childhood in Malta and various naval bases where her father, a Royal Navy officer, was stationed. She was affected by Still's disease when she was very young, and used a wheelchair most of her life. Due to her chronic illness, Sutcliff spent most of her time with her mother from whom she learned many of the Celtic and Saxon legends that she would later expand into works of historical fiction. Sutcliff's early schooling was constantly interrupted by moving house and her illness. She did not learn to read until she was nine years of age, and left school at age 14 to enter the Bideford Art School, which she attended for three years, graduating from the General Art Course. Sutcliff then worked as a painter of miniatures.

The South Downs near Sutcliff's long-time home in Sussex and the setting of several of her novels. Treyford Hill South Downs.jpg
The South Downs near Sutcliff's long-time home in Sussex and the setting of several of her novels.

Inspired by the children's historical novels of Geoffrey Trease, her first published book was The Chronicles of Robin Hood in 1950. In 1954, she published what remains her best-known work The Eagle of the Ninth, part of a series on Roman Britain and its aftermath; they were not written as such or in sequential order but connected by the linking device of an emerald ring, passed down through generations of the same family. Between 1954 and 1958, Sutcliff's works The Eagle of the Ninth, its sequel The Silver Branch , Outcast and Warrior Scarlet were runners-up in the annual Carnegie Medal, given by the Library Association to the year's best children's book by a British subject. She finally won the Medal for her third book in the Eagle series, The Lantern Bearers (1959). [5] [6] [lower-alpha 1] Where the first two books and one subsequent one were set in Roman Britain, The Lantern Bearers immediately follows the withdrawal of the Roman Empire, when the British people are threatened by remaining Germanic troops and by invaders.

Sutcliff was Carnegie runner-up again for her retelling of the Arthurian legend in Tristan and Iseult , which in 1971 won the American Horn Book Award. In 1985, The Mark of the Horse Lord was the inaugural winner of the Phoenix Award, created by the Children's Literature Association to recognise the best English-language children's book that did not win a major award when originally published twenty years earlier. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity. [7] The Shining Company won the same award in 2010.

Sutcliff lived for many years in Walberton near Arundel, Sussex. In 1975, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to children's literature, and later Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1992. She wrote incessantly throughout her life and was still doing so on the morning of her death in 1992. [8] Sutcliff never married and had no children.

Books

Autobiography

Other nonfiction

Eagle of the Ninth series

The series, also referred to as 'Marcus' [9] is linked by the Aquila family dolphin ring and listed here in fictional chronological order. (They were not written as a series by the author.)

  1. The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), illus. C. Walter Hodges
  2. The Silver Branch (1957), illus. Charles Keeping ‡
  3. Frontier Wolf (1980)
  4. The Lantern Bearers (1959)
  5. Sword at Sunset (1963); "officially for adults" [1]
  6. Dawn Wind (1961), illus. Charles Keeping
  7. Sword Song (1997, posthumous)
  8. The Shield Ring (1956), illus. C. Walter Hodges

Three Legions (1980), or Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles (2010), is an omnibus edition of the original Eagle of the Ninth trilogy (The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, 1954 to 1959).

Arthurian novels

Raymond Thompson credits Sutcliff with "some of the finest contemporary recreations of the Arthurian story" and names these seven works. [1] The first two are also part of the Eagle of the Ninth series (above) that attempt to depict Arthur as an actual historical figure.

King Arthur Stories: Three books in one (1999), or The King Arthur Trilogy (2007), is an omnibus edition of the Arthurian Trilogy (1979 to 1981). [9]

Other children's novels

Novels for adults

Other works

Plays and screenplays

Articles

Collected papers

In 1966 Sutcliff made a small donation to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (In this she responded to Lena Grummond's international call for original materials to establish the Collection.) The Sutcliff Papers include a manuscript and two typescripts for the radio play The New Laird. That programme was taped 4 April 1966 and broadcast from Edinburgh on 17 May 1966 as part of the Stories from Scottish History series (BBC Radio Scotland). The collection also includes a small red composition book of research notes for The Lantern Bearers and for two unpublished works, The Amber Dolphin and The Red Dragon. [4]

Works about Sutcliff

Awards

The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Sutcliff was one of three runners-up for the writing award in 1974 (and the British nominee in 1968 as well). [2] [3]

She won several awards for particular works.

Besides winning the 1959 Carnegie Medal, Sutcliff was a commended runner-up five times. [6] [lower-alpha 1] Alan Lee, who illustrated Sutcliff's posthumously published retellings of The Iliad and The Odyssey , won the companion Kate Greenaway Medal for the former, Black Ships Before Troy (1993). [10]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Since 1995 there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU some runners up through 2002 were Commended (from 1954) or Highly Commended (from 1966). There were about 160 commendations of both kinds in 49 years including six each for 1954, 1956, and 1957; three each for 1958 and 1971 (none highly commended).
  2. The Capricorn Bracelet (1973) is a collection of six inter-connected short stories, following several generations of Roman soldiers serving at Hadrian's Wall from the 1st to the 4th centuries. In the author's note Sutcliff says that they began as scripts about Roman Scotland, written for BBC Radio Scotland as part of a series called Stories from Scottish History. She gives no dates; the series ran from 1947 to 1972.
  3. Thomas Keith was a young Scottish soldier in the 78th Highlanders regiment, captured in Egypt by Turkish forces during the Alexandria expedition of 1807. He converted to Islam, took the name Ibrahim Aga, and became governor of Medina in 1815. (See The Adventures of Thomas Keith in Ch.12 of James Grant's 'The Scottish Soldiers of Fortune, pub. 1889)

Related Research Articles

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park is a Korean-American author who published her first novel, Seesaw Girl, in 1999. She has written six children's novels and five picture books. Park's work achieved prominence when she received the prestigious 2002 Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard. She has written the ninth book in The 39 Clues, Storm Warning, published on May 25, 2010.

Charles Keeping

Charles William James Keeping was an English illustrator, children's book author and lithographer. He first came to prominence with his illustrations of Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels for children, and he created more than twenty picture books. He also illustrated the complete works of Charles Dickens for the Folio Society.

<i>The Eagle of the Ninth</i>

The Eagle of the Ninth is a historical adventure novel for children written by Rosemary Sutcliff and published in 1954. The story is set in Roman Britain in the 2nd century AD, after the building of Hadrian's Wall.

<i>The Lantern Bearers</i> (Sutcliff novel)

The Lantern Bearers is a historical novel for children by Rosemary Sutcliff, first published by Oxford in 1959 with illustrations by Charles Keeping. Set in Roman Britain during the 5th century, it is the story of a British Roman's life after the final withdrawal of Roman troops. Sutcliff won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject.

Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult, alternatively known as Tristan and Isolde, is a chivalric romance retold in numerous variations since the 12th century. The story is a tragedy about the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult ; while the details differ from one author to another, the overall plot structure remains much the same. The narrative predates and most likely influenced the Arthurian romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, and has had a substantial impact on Western art and literature.

<i>Sword at Sunset</i>

Sword at Sunset is a best-selling 1963 novel by Rosemary Sutcliff. One of her few historical novels written specifically for adults, it is her interpretation of the legend of King Arthur.

<i>The Silver Branch</i> (Sutcliff novel)

The Silver Branch is a historical adventure novel for children written by Rosemary Sutcliff and published in 1957, with illustrations by Charles Keeping. Set in Britain in the last decade of the 3rd century, it is the story of Justin and Flavius, two cousins in the Roman legions who find themselves in the intrigue and battle surrounding the struggles between Carausius, a self-proclaimed emperor in Britain, Allectus, Carausius's treasurer, and Constantius, emperor in Rome.

C. Walter Hodges

Cyril Walter Hodges was an English artist and writer best known for illustrating children's books and for helping to recreate Elizabethan theatre. He won the annual Greenaway Medal for British children's book illustration in 1964.

<i>The Armourers House</i>

The Armourer's House is a children's historical novel by Rosemary Sutcliff and first published in 1951.

<i>Warrior Scarlet</i>

Warrior Scarlet is an historical adventure novel for children by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Charles Keeping and first published in 1958. It is her only novel set in Bronze Age Britain, approximately 900 BCE, and takes place in and around the South Downs in England.

Sheena Porter is a British author of children's novels. She won the 1964 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising Nordy Bank as the year's best children's book by a British subject.

<i>Black Ships Before Troy</i>

Black Ships Before Troy: The story of the Iliad is a novel for children written by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee, and published (posthumously) by Frances Lincoln in 1993. Partly based on the Iliad, the book retells the story of the Trojan War, from the birth of Paris to the building of the Trojan Horse. For his part Lee won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.

<i>Tristan and Iseult</i> (novel) 1971 book by Rosemary Sutcliff

Tristan and Iseult is a children's novel by Rosemary Sutcliff and was first published in 1971. A re-telling of the ancient legend, it received the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award in 1972, and was runner-up for the 1972 Carnegie Medal.

<i>The Sword and the Circle</i>

The Sword and the Circle, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is a children's novel written by Rosemary Sutcliff and was first published in 1981. The story is a retelling of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. According to her own statements in the introduction, The Sword and the Circle follows the myths and folktales of King Arthur, crediting inspiration primarily from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur; other sources include Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, English ballads, and Irish folktales. She contrasts this telling of the King Arthur story with her previous novels, The Lantern Bearers and Sword at Sunset, which were more an attempt to connect with a concrete historical figure behind the folktales.

<i>The High Deeds of Finn MacCool</i>

The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool is a children's novel by Rosemary Sutcliff and was first published in 1967. It is a retelling of the stories of Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fenian Cycle. According to her own statements in the introduction, these stories are closer to Folklore and Fairytale, being timeless and contradictory, having organically grown from generations of storytellers; she contrasts them to the Ulster Cycle stories of Cuchulainn, which belong to the Heroic Epic, and compare with the Iliad and the Odyssey.

<i>The Road to Camlann</i>

The Road to Camlann: The Death of King Arthur is the third book in Rosemary Sutcliff's Arthurian trilogy, after The Sword and the Circle and The Light Beyond the Forest. This book portrays the events that lead to the Battle of Camlann and the downfall of Camelot, including Guinevere and Lancelot's secret affair, and the betrayal of Arthur's illegitimate son Mordred.

<i>The Mark of the Horse Lord</i>

The Mark of the Horse Lord is a historical novel for children written by Rosemary Sutcliff and published in 1965. It won the first Phoenix Award in 1985.

Barbara Leonie Picard was a British writer of children's books, known best for historical fiction and for retellings of ancient myths and medieval legends. Her works were meticulously researched. She also wrote original fairy tales. Three of her books were commended runners up for the annual British Carnegie Medal, one collection of her fairy tales and two historical novels.

Knight's Fee is a children's historical novel written by Rosemary Sutcliff, first published in 1960. It is set in and around the South Downs in England, near the towns of Steyning and Arundel in West Sussex and covers the period 1094-1106, some 30-40 years after the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff" (August 1986). Raymond H. Thompson. Taliesin's Successors: Interviews with authors of modern Arthurian literature. The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester. Retrieved 2012-11-19. This interview was undertaken for the periodical Avalon to Camelot; it inspired Thompson to undertake the series of 36.
  2. 1 2 "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  3. 1 2 "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  4. 1 2 "Rosemary Sutcliff Papers". de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. University of Southern Mississippi. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  5. 1 2 (Carnegie Winner 1959) Archived 30 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine . Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  6. 1 2 "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  7. 1 2 3 "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012" [ permanent dead link ]. Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
    See also the current homepage "Phoenix Award" Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine .
  8. Barbara Carman Garner. "Sword Song as her "Swan Song": A Fitting Culmination of the Rosemary Sutcliff Legacy?" (PDF). www.childlitass.org. Carleton University, Ottawa. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 Rosemary Sutcliff at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2012-08-16.
  10. (Greenaway Winner 1993) Archived 29 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine . Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-16.