Rosemary Sutcliff selling well | Bestselling books of 2011 | The Guardian

The Guardian newspaper has presented the aggregate information on physical book sales in Britain in 2011.

Three already elderly Stieg Larsson thrillers topped last year’s all-year bestsellers table, followed by Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (the Christmas No 1) and Guinness World Records, with One Day and The Help just outside the top 10. Glance at 2011’s chart, and you could be forgiven for wondering if 12 months have really passed.

For this was a year when old books saw off new ones, and paperbacks sent hardbacks packing. The same seven titles merely change places, with Larsson’s musty trio and David Nicholls’s and Kathryn Stockett’s two-year-old novels all given renewed sales muscle by movie versions.

Interestingly – to me – the combined sales (some 23,500 books) of the two versions of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s 1950s historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth, whilst way down in the full charts, put her in the top twenty (by volume) of the historical and mythological fiction category. On top of that about her publisher Oxford University Press sold about 6,700 copies of The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles (which also includes The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers). Highest seller by volume in historical fiction was Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen, with nearly 200,000! And in there  in the top ten is Rosemary Sutcliff fan Ben Kane. Congratulations!

In children’s fiction, which embraces The Wimpy Kids books as well as J K Rowling, Enid Blyton and Alex Scarrow, (to highlight some very different genres of children’s book), such a volume of sales only allows Rosemary to creep in to the top hundred in about 90th place for The Eagle of the Ninth (although I have not looked to see if there are any duplicate versions of the same title in those above or below her ‘position’).

Historical Fiction Top Twenty

Title Author Volume Binding
The Red Queen Philippa Gregory 193,263 Paperback
My Last Duchess Daisy Goodwin 108,176 Paperback
Death of Kings Bernard Cornwell 64,876 Hardback
The Confession of Katherine Howard Suzannah Dunn 63,259 Paperback
Empire of Silver Conn Iggulden 62,737 Paperback
the Lady of the Rivers Philippa Gregory 51,994 Hardback
The Road to Rome: Forgotten Legion Chronicles Ben Kane 50,137 Paperback
The White Queen Philippa Gregory 46,840 Paperback
The Captive Queen Alison Weir 42,783 Paperback
Heresy S. J. Parris 42,029 Paperback
Insurrection Robyn Young 38,654 Paperback
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel 35,516 Paperback
Conqueror Conn Iggulden 33,909 Hardback
Rome: The Emperor’s Spy M. C. Scott 26,650 Paperback
Revelation:Shardlake C. J. Sansom 25,711 Paperback
Praetorian Simon Scarrow 24,282 Hardback
Secrets of the Tudor Court Darcey Bonnette 24,020 Paperback
The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt 23,740 Paperback
The Eagle of the Ninth Rosemary Sutcliff 23,397 Paperback

Source: Bestselling books of 2011 – Commentary | Books | The Guardian

Click here for spreadsheet of full Guardian-Nielsen data, if you want to play …

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Author: Anthony Lawton

Chair, Sussex Dolphin, family company which looks after the work of eminent children’s & historical fiction author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). Formerly CEO, chair & trustee of various charity, cultural & educational enterprises in UK.

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