… Sophie was a most enchanting old bitch, tiny, pretty, gay, loving and obviously intelligent … (Rosemary Sutcliff Diary, 19th June, 1989)

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June 19th Monday. Over to Burgess Hill , Joan and I in absolutely blistering heat and returned with the most enchanting (? & naughty) old bitch, tiny, pretty & gay & loving, and obviously intelligent. Called Flash, which we are in process of changing to Sophie. Basty very doubtful, but less hostile than I had suspected at this stage. 

Sophie was Rosemary Sutcliff’s  new dog, a chihuahua who came to live with us in Leicester when Rosemary died in 1992. Basty was Sebastien, her other dog at that time. Joan was one of Rosemary Sutcliff’s housekeepers, who took it in turns with others to live with her and keep house for several weeks at a time.

I am driven back to Rosemary’s diary by a post on Twitter:

When I first looked at this day in 1992, in the last diary which was sat on her desk when she died – in my possession now as her heir – I was moved to tweet back:


  1. I was fortunate enough to receive a letter from Ms Sutcliff some years ago,as I had written to her to say how much I loved her books as a child.
    The Armourer’s House,Brother Dusty Feet,The Queen Elizabeth Story….all works of genius.


    1. Did you keep the letter? And if you did, would you be able and willing to send me a scan or a photo of it? I would be so grateful. She used to write diligently in her spidery handwriting to every single person of whatever age who wrote to her. And she loved getting letters from readers, so she will – as perhaps she said – have been delighted to hear from you out of the blue.


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