For award-winning, internationally-acclaimed author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). By Anthony Lawton: godson, cousin & literary executor. Rosemary Sutcliff wrote historical fiction, children's literature and books, films, TV & radio, including The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset, Song for a Dark Queen, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Silver Branch, The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, Blue Remembered Hills.
Rosemary Sutcliff’s name came up when Philippa Dickinson, the managing director of Random House Children’s Books, was having a conversation in a bar which included Chris Priestly, who is an author himself. Before she had to leave, writes Chris:
Philippa began a sentence ‘I remember Rosemary telling me…’. It seems silly to say it, given that I’m a writer myself, but I’d sort of forgotten Rosemary Sutcliff was a real person that someone could remember talking to. I was deeply impressed.
2 thoughts on “Rosemary Sutcliff | A real person, author Chris Priestly realises”
Re: The Eagle
Having been a Sutcliff devotee since childhood and a collector of early editions of Rosemary’s books throughout my adulthood, I did feel some trepidation about what I was going to experience with The Eagle. I turned to my partner half way through the film and made comment that ‘it isn’t quite as bad as I expected’, but thereafter the film went steadily downhill and, sadly, I had to retract my earlier remarks before the film had ended.
I found there was little in the film which bore any resemblance to Rosemary’s novel. The film’s characters and their relationships were one dimensional to say the least. The essence of Rosemary’s book is to be found in the depth of her characters and the evolution of their relationships. The ‘action’ in their internal lives is every bit as important and exciting as the external challenges they meet and deal with. Indeed, it is the balance of the two which makes her novel so potent and exciting. Internal reflection is a counterpoint for external action. Remove the former and the latter is pointless and boring, deprived of the many shades and colours of emotion and detail that her unerring artist’s eye and mind painted into her wonderful novel. And where were Cottia and Cradoc? – Both play crucial roles in the novel. I strongly suspect that only a serialisation may do real justice to Rosemary’s novel. Too much of the novel’s essence is in the necessarily slower paced development of the characters and their relationships, and the many experiences they go through together for this evolution to take place. The Eagle has landed? I think not! This Eagle never flew in Sutcliff skies.
Impressed? I’m envious!