13 Answers from the great Rosemary Sutcliff, author of 60 books of historical fiction and children’s literature

Questions answered by writer Rosemary Sutcliff:
Where were you born?
You were very ill as a child; what happened?
Where did you go to school?
What books did you read when you were young?
Who were your first friends?
What was your first job?
Why did you stop painting and start writing?
How did your first book get published?
What period of history do you most like writing about?
How do you go about writing your books?
How do you research your books?
Why do you write about men and boys more than women and girls?
You never married, why not?

Rosemary Sutcliff was an internationally acclaimed British writer for children, one of the best of the 20th century. Romey (as I knew her) is not around to answer those sets of questions sent by magazines for brief celebrity profiles; she dies in 1992. Some answers to imagined questions can be deduced from Rosemary Sutcliff’s own words in her 1983 session on BBC Radio’s ‘Desert Island Discs‘. Where were you born?

To my shame I have to admit that I was born in Surrey, but  I count myself as a West Country woman, as a Devonshire woman.

You were very ill as a child; what happened?

I contracted juvenile arthritis. A spinal carriage was rather like a coffin; it was very uncomfortable, and you lay flat out in this thing, and of course all you could see were the branches of the trees or the roofs of the houses going by overhead. And it was extremely boring. With any luck you were perhaps allowed to sit up on the way home from a walk.

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