For award-winning, internationally-acclaimed author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). By Anthony Lawton: godson, cousin & literary executor. Rosemary Sutcliff wrote historical fiction, children's literature and books, films, TV & radio, including The Eagle of the Ninth, Sword at Sunset, Song for a Dark Queen, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Silver Branch, The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, Blue Remembered Hills.
Most of the people I’ve written about really lived; Torrington church really did blow up, with 200 royalist prisoners and their Parliamentary guard inside, and no one has ever known how it happened, though the chaplain Joshua Sprigg left it on record that the deed was done by “one Watts, a desperate villain”.
Now there is just a cobbled mound in the church-yard where it is said that those who died in the explosion were buried in a mass grave.
“Here is an author who writes with great distinction…Simon is a book that I recommend with all my heart” . So said acclaimed writer Noel Streatfield—she of Ballet Shoes & much more besides—about Rosemary Sutcliff and the book
It had never seemed of much importance during their boyhood that Simon Carey was for Parliament and his friend Amias Hannaford a Royalist. But when the Civi War between the two parties broke out, and two years later they were old enough to take part in it, they found themselves fighting for different sides.
This story tells of the last stages of the Civil War waged in the west country; and the account of the part played by Simon in the fighting makes exciting reading. Several times in the course of it he encounters Amias ; and these meetings leave him torn by conflicting loyalties. Finally the day comes when he is forced to put the strength of the friendship to the test, weighing it against his loyalty to the Parliamentarian cause.
Rosemary Sutcliff has written a compelling and unbiased story of the troubled times of the civil war, describing vividly and accurately the final campaign in the west and sharing the life and thoughts and feelings of some of the people who became involved in it.
“Here is an author who writes with great distinction…Simon is a book that I recommend with all my heart” – Noel Streatfield
Of Simon by Rosemary Sutcliff, written some sixty years ago, the Washington Post and Times Herald in the USA (April 4th, 1954) wrote: ‘it is a colourful story…..(and) Miss Sutcliff‘s interest in character makes even the minor characters interesting … she is adept too at communicating a sense of the Devon countryside”. The story?
All of England was taking sides for the King of Parliament in the 1640’s.Read More »
One of you regular readers – but I cannot find who at the moment, sorry – commented a while back pointing me to the fact that Rosemary Sutcliff’s story of the ninth legion, The Eagle of the Ninth, was the jumping off point for a column in The Church Times earlier this year by Simon Parke (sic!), entitled ‘The Mystery of the Ninth’. He concluded:
It was the Ninth ..the most exposed and northerly of all legions in Britain, that bore the brunt of the unrest. But where and why did they cease to exist? After York, the archaeological trail of this elite force of soldiers grows strangely cold. Sometimes mystery is more gripping than fact, and loss more wondering than gain.
The full column is reproduced, with permission from the writer, below. It sets out broadly one version of the case for and against Rosemary’s ‘imagined’ version of events.Read More »