Rosemary Sutcliff, author of the children’s book and historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth, set in Roman Britain, told me more than once that she believed in re-incarnation and that she had lived in Roman times. Hence, she believed, her feel for that period. So – as I have posted before – I was struck by Barendina Smedley’s words in her blog Fugitive Ink on reading The Eagle of the Ninth for the first time as an adult not a child:
It really does feel as if the world in which she set her characters was, in some sense, as real to her as the characters themselves …
The fuller quote is
… there’s nothing remotely cynical about her writing. It’s hard to come away from reading The Eagle of the Ninth without the conviction that all those mists, storms and so forth were not so much imagined by Sutcliff as lived, at least imaginatively, in the course of writing the book. It really does feel as if the world in which she set her characters was, in some sense, as real to her as the characters themselves, hence as worthy of rich description and serious regard.
Barendina wrote earlier in the article that:
“Amongst the lesser pleasures of parenthood should be numbered the opportunity, not only to re-visit the favourite books of one’s own early childhood … but also … the opportunity to encounter as an adult the children’s books one missed in childhood. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth very much a case in point.”