The Economist reviewed Rosemary Sutclifff’s Black Ships Before Troy | Re-telling of Homer’s Iliad

US Edition of Rosemary Sutcliff’s  Black Ships Before Troy (2005)

One of the 20th century’s great writers of historical fiction for children died in 1992 from a disabling disease that had confined her to a wheelchair for much of her working life. (Blog editor’s note: actually, she did not die from Still’s disease!). Yet Rosemary Sutcliff produced many outstanding works of fiction over a 40-year-period — most notably her cycle of novels which dealt with the Roman occupation of Britain. The last two books that she completed were children’s versions of Homer.

The first of these, Black Ships Before Troy, her version of the Iliad, is now out. Like all her books, it is an intellectually-taxing read — but it also manages to sort out some of the complicated strands of Homer’s often digressive narrative. This helps children to see the characters of the great protagonists all the more clearly.

The illustrations by Alan Lee do the book a great service. At their best, they have the confident sweep and pomp of Victorian narrative painting.

  • Source: The Economist, December 4, 1993

… a suggestion of a classical myths and legends…sounds rather exciting … (Diary, 3/6/88)

June 3rd Friday. Poor little blackbird died in the night. I suppose the shock was too much for it. Oh dear …. Gina rang up with suggestion of doing a classical myths and legends for an old chum and colleague  in a new publishing house of hers. Sounds rather exciting.

This refers to Gina Pollinger (‘Murray Pollinger’ was her agent), and is the first mention (in the diaries) of what became two books with Frances Lincoln (publishers), Black Ships before Troy, and The Wanderrings of Odysseus

Rosemary Sutcliff Black Ships Before Troy | Classical Studies and Ancient Greece

Classicists don’t distinguish between literature written for children and literature that children happen to read. Black Ships before Troy.

Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, including The Eagle of the Ninth (now a film/movie) and The Lantern Bearers, are classics of both children’s literature and historical fiction. Some novels, like The Flowers of Adonis, and some retellings such as Black Ships Before Troy are set in Ancient Greece. But according to one book review:

“Children’s literature does not feature much in classical studies, as classicists tend not to distinguish between literature written for children and literature that children happen to read’. Continue reading “Rosemary Sutcliff Black Ships Before Troy | Classical Studies and Ancient Greece”

School class reads Rosemary Sutcliff’s Black Ships before Troy | Sutcliff Discovery of the Day

The ever useful Google Alerts tells me this morning that in California (USA) this week  Mrs Miller’s History class has begun to read and discuss Rosemary Sutcliff’s retelling of The Iliad –  Black Ships Before Troy. Good choice!

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