British writer Rosemary Sutcliff re-tells legends of Robin Hood, King Arthur, Beowulf, Tristan & Iseult, Finn Mac Cool, Cuchulain, the Iliad, the Odyssey

Portrait of historical novelist and children’s author Rosemary Sutcliff by Mark Gerson

Always at the same writing desk, seated in an old captain’s chair, Rosemary Sutcliff imagined a rich cast of characters to people her historical novels. But many of her works also draw heavily on legend.

In her first published book in 1950, she re-worked her  Chronicles of Robin Hood. The best-selling Sword at Sunset in 1963, written for adults, re-made the story of King Arthur. Later in her writing career, she created a trilogy of books aimed at children and young people retelling the tale of Arthur again—The Light Behind the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail (1979), The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1981), and The Road to Camlann: The Death of King Arthur (1981). She  also wrote novels re-making the stories of Beowulf, Tristan and Iseult, and the Irish heroes Finn Mac Cool and Cuchulain, The Hound of Ulster, as well as re-telling Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey

Internationally acclaimed historical novelist and writer for children, Rosemary Sutcliff, could not read when nine years old

Rosemary Sutcliff once told an interviewer:

“At the age of nine…I was not yet able to read…(but) Why, after all, read to yourself when you can get somebody else to read to you?”.

She explained that her mother used to read to her “a rich and somewhat indigestible stirabout of literature” which included the British stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood, myths and legends of the classical world and Scandinavia, The Wind in the Willows (by Kenneth Grahame), The Tailor of Gloucester (by Beatrix Potter), Treasure Island (by R. L. Stevenson), Nicholas Nickleby (by Charles Dickens), Kim Puck of Pook’s Hill (by Rudyard Kipling), and Little Women (by L M Alcott).

  • Source—(2002) B A Drew, 100 More Popular Young Adult Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1563089203

New print-on-demand edition of The Chronicles of Robin Hood | Exciting story | Unexciting cover

A new Random House print-on-demand edition of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Chronicles of Robin Hood is now available. The story was Rosemary Sutcliff’s first with OUP,  in 1950. The cover, unlike the book, is not exciting – but it reflects the generic design for Random’s print-on-demand editions. The important point is that the book can be acquired for another generation of readers.

Cover on demand RS Robin Hood

Posts on The Chronicles of Robin Hood

Robin Hood book wins 1971 Zilveren Griffel book award in Holland

The Chronicles of Robin Hood by Rosemary Sutcliff (Dutch copy)Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘De roemruchte daden van Robin Hood’ (The Chronicles of Robin Hood) – a retelling of the story of Robin Hood – was awarded a Zilveren Griffel book award in 1971 in Holland. This is a Childrens/Young Adult book award. Anita Meulstee from the Netherlands, on Library Thing, alerted meRead More »