Rosemary Sutcliff was inspired by crackpots in re-telling of Arthurian Legend | Sword at Sunset

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Cover of Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset (US paperback)I have posted today about education and Facebook! Time to return to more central matters … Late in her life, one interviewer asked Rosemary Sutcliff  about the sources which inspired her version of the Arthurian legend in her best-selling book Sword at Sunset. She recalled various, including:

A wonderful book that I found in the war – a little book …  it was by an absolute crackpot – it was called The Battle for Britain in the Fifth Century. It was all about getting back to the historical Arthur, and the position of people like Vortigern, and people like that – who and what they probably really were. It was… quite crazy, bu I’ve always found a really good crack-pot very often … hits on some idea of what could be true, which the  … serious historian would undoubtedly miss.

Vortigern was a 5th-century leader of the Britons. He probably existed, although  information about him is shrouded in legend. I have found the book itself. The crackpot was Trelawney Dayrell Reed. The publishers were Methuen.

More about Sword st Sunset on this blog

Source for this post: Source: Quondam et Futurus, Vol. 1, No. 4, Winter 1991

(Note for modern and non-British readers: a crackpot to Rosemary was someone “given to eccentric or lunatic notions” not someone given to using drugs, or an implement connected with crack!).

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