Rosemary Sutcliff Facebook-likers vigorously criticise Booktrust so-called ‘Best 100 children’s books of last 100 years’ | No Rosemary Sutcliff on it!

Over at the Facebook page for Rosemary Sutcliff  readers have been robust about  the error of The Booktrust’s ways in excluding Rosemary Sutcliff from their attempt to list the 100 best children’s books of the last 100 years. I asked for help in compiling a broadside.

I’m not sure this will help, but the books I enjoyed when I was 11 still engage me at 63! I’ve never felt that Rosemary Sutcliff writes for children alone. There’s probably no more poignant tale than The Lantern Bearers. Also, she has a talent for dialogue in an historical context which is unsurpassed. Most children’s authors have nothing remotely like it. (Roy Marshall)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s books last in the mind and heart. I am 63 now and they stand out as Beacons from my childhood. I have reread many in mid and later life and they are even better. I am with Roy, The Lantern Bearers is my favourite – so evocative and of our own end times too. (Rob Patterson)

Rosemary Sutcliff’s Roman books, starting with the Eagle of the Ninth (but I read all the others – The Mark of the Horse Lord was probably the one that really inspired me), were one of the influences that led me to study archaeology.

She had the ability to immerse the reader in that world, and there was usually a link to an actual artefact, like the Eagle itself, the dolphin ring, and the Capricorn bracelet. (Lesley Arrowsmith)

Sword Song and The Shining Company  were among the most beautiful books I read as a teen. (Andy Poole)

Not sure if anything any of us say will change anyone’s mind but as for me. Well. I credit Rosemary Sutcliff‘s books with giving me a basic understanding not only of British history and to some extent prehistory but also with establishing part of my own personal world views and values. Faith, loyalty, trust, and ethical responses to that ol’ slings and arrows life tosses at a person. Not making their list, humphff, pooey on them, lets start our own list. By the way,  not long ago I was looking for a Rosemary Sutcliff title in a local library system. Not a one of ’em. Plenty of items on par with the current trend for vampire romances tho’. What ever are they teaching in schools these days? (Sherry Wheeler).

Baffled. Have just read the Arthurian trilogy with my nine year old son and we were utterly absorbed for several weeks. It doesn’t come any better. (Giles Semper)

Good grief! This is a travesty! Like several of the others commenting, I am now in my 60’s and the Rosemary Sutcliff books I read as a child still stick with me. I have re-read a number of them and the beautiful writing and their elegiac quality brings me to my knees. I recently recommended them to a friend (also in his 60’s) and he was utterly bowled over. Can it be that the people who made up the list are just not familiar with them? Can ANYONE who claims to have expertise in “children’s literature” NOT be familiar with them??? (Kathleen McKinley, who also wrote….)

I took a very, very quick look at their list. I confess I was not familiar with many of the titles in the 12-14 years category (the one most likely to include a Sutcliff title if the adjudicators weren’t numpties, although I read some when I was younger), but I see that The Hunger Games is on the list. Seriously??? The quality of writing is pretty low and the story actually quite mundane, despite all the current hype. That NO book made it suggests a level of literary cluelessness that stuns me. What’s worse, when I used the general Search function on the site, I found NO SUTCLIFF BOOK LISTED AT ALL! It’s bad enough that none made it onto the 100 best list, but to include none at all on the site??? I’m appalled. (Kathleen McKinley)

Haven’t The Guardian or other reputable online papers/magazines published articles in praise of Sutcliff? I’m sure you’ve linked to them before. Those should be great evidence of her reputation. (David Urbach)

I had never picked up a Rosemary Sutcliff book until a year and a half ago (I am semi-retired now). She was referenced as a wonderful source for historical reading. I had to request the books from multiple libraries in my state. Are her books too real for the current myth and fantasy based readers of today? I believe The Capricorn Bracelet would be an excellent book to introduce young people to her writing. I agree with Roy’s statement about The Lantern Bearers. (Meg Albrecht)

I was 16 when I first stumbled upon Sutcliff. She immediately became one of my favorite writers of all time and this hasn’t changed. Like many here, I was influenced by her. Actually, it was because of her works that I began working on how to translate historical novels and I can tell you that translating Sutcliff is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a translator could ask for. Sad to see Booktrust thinks she’s not good enough. But then again, after checking their lists, I missed other favorites of mine as well (can’t recall seeing The Secret Garden there,  for example…) (Simina Lungu)

… I own some of her books in both the original and the German version and I was struck in that she is the only author I know whose books gain by translation. I blame this on her style which is more like painting than writing, very figurative, and the English is much more based upon verbs than the German which favours nouns. In my humble opinion sometimes Sutcliff’s descriptions are more striking in German because there is little movement in them. (Anjy Roemelt)

Currently in the process of trying to produce our stage adaptation of Sword at Sunset. To imply that Rosemary Sutcliff isn’t still popular today is nonsense. (James Beagon)

Reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s books as a child inspired my love of history and resulted in me becoming a professional archaeologist! My personal favourites are Warrior Scarlet and The Lantern Bearers. Her stories are beautifully written, completely immersive and totally inspirational. I re-read them often. Great illustrations too! (Alison Heke)

Aha! Another archaeologist! I bet there are a lot of archaeologists who would say the same thing (about Rosemary Sutcliff) (Lesley Arrowsmith) to which a response from Kathleen McKinley (see above) was “She almost turned me into an archaeologist, too — and I wish I’d stayed on that path – instead I became a lawyer. Oh well …”

I love Rosemary Sutcliff‘s books!!!! I’ve read The Hunger Games, and they don’t even come close to being as good as Rosemary Sutcliff’s books!!! She has a way of making the reader feel like they’re actually there. I really liked The Eagle of the Ninth. I enjoyed Sword at Sunset, and Sun Horse Moon Horse was really good as well. Although my absolute favorite was Simon. The way she tells that story is amazing! The whole friendship test was very intriguing. I read some of her books to my younger brothers, (ages 13, and 11) and they loved them!!! I couldn’t finish the book fast enough, and when it was over they were all like “that’s it?!”. And they make you think…the twists in the story and how it ends sometimes surprise you, but they fit. I love her books!!! Can’t stand all this modern stuff…it’s dull after reading books written by authors like Rosemary Sutcliff. (Ilse Anderson)

and fellow writer Philip Reeve:

That’s Ridiculous!

The Booktrust’s criteria were:

  • Iconic books that have proved they could stand the test of time
  • Great story
  • ‘Highest quality’ of writing and illustration
  • The most popular with children and their families
  • Engaged children and children loved best
  • Offering young readers the chance to learn about the world and to broaden their horizons
  • Most innovative and original titles (not made clear if they mean the title itself or the whole book)

2 thoughts on “Rosemary Sutcliff Facebook-likers vigorously criticise Booktrust so-called ‘Best 100 children’s books of last 100 years’ | No Rosemary Sutcliff on it!

  1. Book Trust did issue an invitation to readers to suggest any of their own favourites missed off the list – did anyone one else take advantage of this? I know I wasn’t the only one who recommended Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” sequence and Rosemary Sutcliff’s work. The good news is both Cooper and Sutcliff have made it on to the list of most recommended books left off the Book Trust “100 Best Books” list. (Suggestions now closed) `

    Here are the most popular books that missed out on the original list. One book from each author is listed – for RS it was (you guessed it!) “Eagle of the Ninth”.


  2. Hello! I am so happy that Sutcliff has such a fantastic following of dedicated fans who support her when she is not fully appreciated.

    Just wanted to let you know, I just created a Google+ community for fans of Rosemary Sutcliff:

    I extend an open invitation to all fellow fans to join and I hope this will support you, Anthony, in your quest for recognition of the wonderful Rosemary Sutcliff.


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