Careful reading of the historical fiction for adults and children of Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92) reveals that the same Dolphin Ring with a dolphin design on a flawed emerald was the Flavius family signet ring which threads through eight of her novels: The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, The Lantern Bearers, Sword at Sunset, Dawn Wind, Sword Song, & The Shield Ring.
Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992) had several editors during her long writing career which produced over 60 books. One editor wrote (in a website post that I can no longer trace):
(Rosemary Sutcliff) had, as did Henry Treece, a mystical communion with the past, which enabled her both to recreate tiny details, and to confound military historians with her understanding of the art of battle in any situation she cared to devise. Her sense of place was uncanny, in that she could get no nearer to a site than the seat of a car on an adjacent road. Friends often served as her eyes, and also as her researchers, but it was the conclusions she drew from the evidence, and her re-creations of them, that made her contribution to the literature about the ancient world so distinctive. Where she was simply embellishing recorded history, she was no better than anyone else. She also had one of the rudest senses of humour in anyone I have met.”
Rosemary Sutcliff was the proud recepient of the Carnegie Medal for 1959 for her Roman historical novel ( “I write for children aged 8 to 88”) The Lantern Bearers.
An intriguing question is posed this year (2018) by Children’s Literature Lecturer Lucy Pearson about the focus of books awarded the Carnegie Medal. She questions whether the award is moving away from children’s books. The “short version” of her thesis is that “the Carnegie has definitely seen a massive swing in favour of YA (Young Adults) in the last decade”. Her notion of whether a book is for children or for young adults is based on a combination of the readership aimed at, and the age of the protagonists.
Rosemary Sutcliff wrote for children of all ages, about people of all ages. She was promoted in the 1950s to adults as for children and juveniles (sic). She was no stranger to the Carnegie Medal. She was commended in 1954 for The Eagle of the Ninth, 1956 for The Shield Ring, and 1957 for The Silver Branch. Authors originally could not be awarded the medal a second time. But by 1971 they could, and Rosemary Sutcliff was ‘highly commended’ for The Carnegie Medal for Tristan and Iseult in 1971
Place matters hugely in the work of Rosemary Sutcliff. The main settings of her stories include:
The West Country in England
Blood Feud | Brother Dusty-Feet | Outcast | Simon | Sword at Sunset | The Armourer’s House | The Eagle of the Ninth | The Queen Elizabeth Story | Tristan and Iseult
The South Downs in England
Dawn Wind | Flame-Coloured Taffeta | Knight’s Fee | Sun Horse, Moon Horse, | Sword at Sunset | The Eagle of the Ninth | The Lantern Bearers | The Silver Branch | The Witch’s Brat | Warrior Scarlet
Brother Dusty Feet | Song for a Dark Queen | The Witch’s Brat
The North Of England
A Circlet of Oak Leaves | Frontier Wolf | Sword at Sunset | Sword Song | The Capricorn Bracelet | The Chronicles of Robin Hood | The Eagle of the Ninth | The Mark of the Horse Lord | The Rider of the White Horse | The Shield Ring | The Shining Company | The Silver Branch
A Circlet of Oak Leaves | Bonnie Dundee | Eagle’s Egg | Frontier Wolf| Shifting Sands | Sword at Sunset | Sword Song | The Capricorn Bracelet | The Eagle of the Ninth | The Mark of the Horse Lord | The Shining Company | We Lived in Drumfyvie
A Circlet of Oak Leaves | Sword at Sunset | Sword Song | The Bridge-Builders | The Chief’s Daughter | The Lantern Bearers | The Shining Company
Blood Feud | Sword Song | The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool | The Hound of Ulster | Tristan and Iseult
Born with physical disability: Adam Hilyarde, The Queen Elizabeth Story; Robert Cecil, Lady in Waiting; Drem, Warrior Scarlet; Vadir Cedricson, Dawn Wind; Gwalchmai, Sword at Sunset; Lovel, The Witch’s Brat; the Emperor Claudius, Song for a Dark Queen.
Acquired physical disabilities: Robin, The Chronicles of Robin Hood; John Carey, Simon; Marcus, The Eagle of the Ninth; Talore, Warrior Scarlet; Midir, The Mark of the Horse Lord; Timotheus, The Flowers of Adonis; Lucianus Calpurnius, The Capricorn Bracelet; Jestyn Englishman, Hakon One-Eye, Bardas Schlerus, Blood Feud; Moon-Eye, Shifting Sands; Hugh Herriot, Bonnie Dundee; Anoud bin Aziz ibn Rashid, Blood and Sand; Conn, The Shining Company; Onund Treefoot, Sword Song.