Rosemary Sutcliff is unequaled in children’s historical fiction | Guardian books blog

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The writing of Rosemary Sutcliff is loved by Imogen Russell Williams, director of Have Your Cake Theatre – a fringe theatre company. Her areas of ‘anorak expertise’ (according to the Guardian website) include ‘children’s books, classical tragedy and Golden Age crime fiction’. No wonder that for her:

… the nonpareil of children’s historical fiction remains Rosemary Sutcliff, whose books about Bronze Age Britain (Warrior ScarletSun Horse, Moon Horse) and Roman Britain, particularly The Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers, were intensely memorable to me as a child and part of the reason I eventually chose to study classics at university. Recently, rereading Warrior Scarlet, I was amazed all over again by the restrained poetry of Sutcliff’s intensely evocative writing – the story of Drem, a one-armed boy determined to win the right to wear scarlet as a warrior of his tribe, is infused with a breath of woodsmoke and animal blood that drifts subtly but irresistibly from the page. I hadn’t known, as a young reader, that Sutcliff was herself disabled – rereading the book in the light of that knowledge, it’s less surprising to me that she was able to create so vivid a sense of Drem’s frustration at the arm which “trails like a bird’s broken wing” as he darts through the forest with his throw-spear.
Source: Imogen Russell Williams on ‘Old stories for young readers’ | Books | guardian.co.uk.

2 comments

  1. Funny also how big dogs feature in so many of her books when I understand that she had lots of small ones.

    Dawn Wind has my favourite dog scenes – broke my heart too

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    1. She loved big dogs, and had one (Simba is who I recall) when her father was alive. She did not feel safe with a large dog after he had died, with a changing cast of housekeepers and driver-handymen to help look after her, given her disabilities. So … I do not find it at all the big dogs and heroes with physical disabilities) feature in many books.

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