Listed here is every title by Rosemary Sutcliff, the author and writer of historical fiction and children’s books. (Regular followers—and other visitors—you may like to check that this accords with your understanding. All comments about inaccuracies and additions are very welcome, below)
Eagle of the Ninth and similar
The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), illustrated by C. Walter Hodges
The Silver Branch (1957), illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Lantern Bearers (1959), illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Capricorn Bracelet (1973), illustrated by Charles Keeping
Three Legions (1980), omnibus edition containing the first three books Read More »
Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth is rooted in the history of a real Roman legion. A couple of years back I noted some references about the history from a website that has now disappeared – by one Ross Cowan. He had written that
… to learn more, especially about the evidence for the legion in the period c. AD 118-161, see :
Birley, A. R. The Roman Government of Britain. Oxford: 2005, 228-229.
Birley, E. B. ‘The Fate of the Ninth Legion’ in R. M. Butler (ed.) Soldier and Civilian in Roman Yorkshire. Leicester: 1971, 71-80.
Campbell, D. B. Roman Legionary Fortresses, 27 BC – AD 378. Oxford: 2006, 27-29.
Cowan, R. For the Glory of Rome: A History of Warriors and Warfare. London: 2007, 220-234 and 271-273. Read More »
Alkibiades, the hero of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Flowers of Adonis, was one of the more enigmatic figures of Greek history. When this historical novel ‘for adults’ was published in 1969 by Hodder and Stoughton (costing 35 shillings in old money), Rosemary was inteviewed by The Times newspaper (Oct 27, 1969).
I was trained at art school, but then the desire to scribble came over me. I got my interest in history from my mother who had a sort of minstrel’s, rather than historian’s knowledge. Inaccurate, but full of colourful legend. I disliked history at school ….
… They do say that to be a successful children’s writer one has to have a large lump of unlived childhood in one. I certainly think I have that.
You have to show children that good does overcome evil, but that does not necessarily mean that the old lady you helped then pays for your ballet lessons! The satisfaction should just be coming from the fact that you have done right.
… It is easier to give a book a historical setting, because children will take things happening then rather than right on their own doorsteps now.
Source: The Times, Oct 27, 1969, p6.
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins has been nominated for the short-list for the Samuel Johnson non-fiction prize. She has in the past written of her re-reading of Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, ‘a childhood favourite‘. In the Guardian she has written briefly about her encounter with Roman Britain.
My academic training is as a classicist; but during my education, and for a long time afterwards, I wasn’t interested in Roman Britain – it struck me as a rather unglamorous, somewhat dreary outpost of the empire. Everything changed when, one spring, I went walking on Hadrian’s wall. I began to think about how the remnants of Roman Britain formed part of our mental and physical landscape. What had those who lived among these remains made of them? How had ideas about Britain’s Roman period shaped ideas about nationhood and empire?
The journey I took was a literal one: two summers were spent trundling around in a VW camper van in search of the physical remains of Roman Britain. I certainly revised my old, ignorant views of them when faced with such sites as the magnificent coastal military installation of Burgh Castle in Norfolk, or Hardknott in Cumbria, a spectacular fort perched on a steep mountain pass. I spent many months in libraries and archives; it was a particular pleasure seeking out antiquarian accounts of Roman Britain, from William Camden in the 16th century to writings by the learned and eccentric scholars of the 18th century.
I also became intrigued by the notion of Roman Britain as a generative place for art and ideas. Figures such as WH Auden, Wilfred Owen, Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten had been inspired by Roman Britain, not to mention authors such as Rosemary Sutcliff, but it had also sparked apparently humbler encounters: the Bristol builder who recreated a Romano-British mosaic in 1.6m tesserae; the amateur scholar who cracked an academic conundrum while running his children’s bath; the Newcastle seller of kitchens who became a full-time centurion, working in the modern heritage industry.
Under Another Sky is a book about the encounter with Roman Britain: my own, and that of others who came before me. I found Roman Britain to be an elusive, slippery place and time, offering up more anxieties and doubts than certainties. Above all writing the book was, for me, a way of trying to understand our present, by looking it at it through the lens of long ago.
via Samuel Johnson non-fiction shortlist: From the Romans to Thatcher | Books | The Guardian.