Rosemary Sutcliff’s orphans Beric, Jestyn, Randall, Hugh not for Katherine Rundell’s top 10 orphans in children’s books

  Rosemary Sutcliff historical and children’s book and novel Blood Feud coverOutcast by Rosemary Sutcliff hardback coverKnight's Fee IllustrationBrother Dusty Feet historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff original UK cover

Sadly (and perhaps remissly) Katherine Rundell – winner of the Blue Peter book award 2014 for best story – did not include any of Rosemary Sutcliff’s characters in her recent ’10 of the best orphans’ at The Guardian’s children’s books site. She might have chosen Beric in Outcast, Jestyn in Blood Feud, Randall the dog-boy in Knight’s Fee, Hugh Copplestone in Brother Dusty-Feet. (And what are the  others I have forgotten?).

She chose:

  1. Mowgli, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Cinderella
  3. Cat Chant, Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
  4. Anne, Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery
  5.  Alex Rider, Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  6. Harry, Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  7.  Lyra, His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
  8. Sophie, The BFG by Roald Dahl
  9. Peter, Peter Pan by J M Barrie
  10. The Fossil Sisters, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield

Source: Katherine Rundell’s Top 10 Orphans

Historical and children’s novelist Rosemary Sutcliff’s Brother Dusty Feet excerpt chosen in collection of adventure stories for ten year olds

Good morning, and Happy Father’s Day , at least in the UK…

I have been sorting my shelves of books connected with historical novelist and children’s writer Rosemary Sutcliff –  from her research library, the collection of titles and books which I inherited from her, and those I have acquired since her death in my role as her literary executor. (It it must be done, for we are moving house.)

Adventure Stories for Ten Year Olds, chosen by Helen PaibaAdventure Stories for Ten Year Olds ( Macmillan Children’s Books, 2001) was ‘compiled’ by Helen Paiba, and illustrated by Douglas Carrel. According to the blurb, Helen Paiba was “known as one of the most committed, knowledgeable, and acclaimed children’s booksellers in Britain.” For “more than twenty years she owned and ran the Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill, London, which under her guidance gained a superb reputation for its range of children’s books and for the advice available for its customers.” In 1995 she was awarded the Eleanor Farjeon Award, given for distinguished service to the world of children’s books.The story from Rosemary is an extract from Brother Dusty Feet (Oxford University Press, 1952, pp  23-33). It begins  Continue reading “Historical and children’s novelist Rosemary Sutcliff’s Brother Dusty Feet excerpt chosen in collection of adventure stories for ten year olds”

Rosemary Sutcliff historical novel Brother Dusty Feet on BBC Radio

Brother Dusty Feet historical fiction by Rosemary Sutcliff original UK coverRosemary Sutcliff‘s Bother Dusty Feet is coming to radio in the UK and on the internet. Along with his faithful dog Argos, eleven-year-old orphan Hugh Copplestone decides to leave his Aunt and Uncle’s house after one beating too many, and marches off to Oxford to seek his fortune and the New Learning. When he meets a group of strolling players along the way, Hugh joins them and becomes part of their acting troupe. He walks “with his legs straight and his shoulders back as the Players taught him”. Or as The Radio Times says:

Set in the days of the first Queen Elizabeth, Rosemary Sutcliff’s children’s novel, written in 1952, has more than a touch of ‘lashings of ginger beer’ and Wizard of Oz innocence about it. Young Hugh, an orphan, is bound for the dreaming spires of Oxford, with only his beloved dog and the stars for company, when he meets a kindly band of travelling  players, and joins them on a series of adventures and derring-do. Shaun McKenna’s adaptation is full of fanciful myths, legends and encounters with historical heroes. The whole family will be eager to find out if young Hugh finds his rainbow, somewhere along the dusty roads of southern England.

Dogs in the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff

Thinking of both historical fiction and dogs put Katherine Langrish, author of fantasy novels for young adults, in mind of Rosemary Sutcliff. Katherine believes that dogs in books are a “Good Thing”. She also believes that Rosemary Sutcliff “must easily win the title of Britain’s most loved writer of junior historical fiction”.

… Rosemary Sutcliff, whose books I devoured as a child …  loved dogs, and there is a noble dog in many of her books: Whitethroat in Warrior Scarlet, Argos in Brother Dusty Feet.  But for me the most iconic is Dog in Dawn Wind,  the young war-hound that the boy Owain finds by moonlight on the ruins of the battlefield:

…it was something alive in the cold echoing emptiness of a dead world. It stood with one paw raised, looking at him, and Owain called, hoarsely, with stiff lips and aching throat: ‘Dog! Hai! Dog!’ … [It] came, slowly and uncertainly… once it stopped altogether; then it finished at the run and next instant was trembling against his legs. He was a young dog; the beautiful creamy hair of his breast-patch was stained and draggled, and his muzzle bloody in the moonlight… ‘Dog, aiee, dog, we are alone then. There’s no one else. We will go together, you and I.’

The brilliance of the writing is to show us, in the lonely and innocent terror of the dog and what he has been made to do, the full dreadfulness of war.
This is used with Katherine’s permission (thank you!). She wonders also in an email to me  if “perhaps Rosemary wrote about dogs as a way of owning them …”. Actually, Rosemary always owned dogs.
(Original post in March, 2010 First Revision 14 Feb 2012. List below added 10 March 2014))
  • Brother Dusty-Feet: Hugh runs away from home to protect Argos.
  • The Eagle of the Ninth:  Cub is Esca’s tame wolf cub.
  • The Silver Branch: Curoi’s hound is called Cullen.
  • Outcast: Canog is a mistreated mongrel owned by  Beric, whose childhood dog was Gelert.
  • The Lantern Bearers: Artos’s dog Cabal.
  • Warrior Scarlet: Whitethroat; Fand the Beautiful.
  • The Bridge-Builders: Math, a Hibernian wolfhound.
  • Knight’s Fee: Joyeuse.
  • Dawn Wind: Dog, a survivor of Owain’s Last Stand.
  • Blood Feud: Brindle is a cattle dog.
  • Bonnie Dundee: Caspa.
  • The Shining Company: Gelert.
  • Sword Song: Bjarni murders a man for kicking Astrid, and Hugin follows him home from Dublin.

Rosemary Sutcliff on BBC TV Jackanory

Brother Dusty-Feet: The Joyous Company (18 September 1967)

Brother Dusty-Feet: A Fine Gentleman (19 September 1967)

Brother Dusty-Feet: Argos Lets Lost (20 September 1967)

Brother Dusty-Feet: The Mist Rises (21 September 1967)

Brother Dusty-Feet: Parting of the Ways (22 September 1967)

The Armourer’s House: Part 1 – London Town (20 December 1971)

The Armourer’s House: Part 2 – Midsummer Magic (21 December 1971

The Armourer’s House: Part 3 – The New World (22 December 1971

The Armourer’s House: Part 4 – Hallowe’en (23 December 1971)

The Armourer’s House: Part 5 – Christmas (24 December 1971)

source: The Internet Movies Database

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