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Rosemary Sutcliff
Born Rosemary Sutcliff
14 December 1920(1920-12-14)
West Clandon, Surrey, England
Died 23 July 1992 (aged 71)
Chichester, West Sussex, England
Occupation Author
Nationality British
Genres Historical fiction, Children's literature
Notable work(s) The Eagle of the Ninth

Rosemary Sutcliff CBE (14 December 1920–23 July 1992) was a British novelist, best known as a writer of historical fiction. Although primarily a children's author, the quality and depth of her writing also appeals to adults; Sutcliff herself once commented that she wrote "for children of all ages from nine to ninety."

Sutcliff was born in West Clandon, Surrey, but spent her childhood in Malta and various bases where her father, a Royal Navy officer, was stationed. She contracted Still's Disease when she was very young, and thus used a wheelchair most of her life. Due to her chronic illness, Sutcliff spent most of her time with her mother—a tireless storyteller—from whom she learned many of the Celtic and Saxon legends that she would later expand into works of historical fiction. Sutcliff's early schooling was constantly interrupted by moving house and her disabling condition. She did not learn to read until she was nine years of age, and left school at fourteen years to enter the Bideford Art School, which she attended for three years, graduating from the General Art Course. Sutcliff then worked as a painter of miniatures.

Sutcliff began her writing career in 1950 with The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She wrote The Eagle of the Ninth, her most well known work, in 1954. In 1959, Sutcliff won the Carnegie Medal for The Lantern Bearers and was runner-up in 1972 with Tristan and Iseult. In 1974, she was highly commended for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The Mark of the Horse Lord won the first Phoenix Award in 1985.

Sutcliff lived for many years in Walberton near Arundel, Sussex. In 1975, she was appointed an Officer of the British Empire for services to Children's Literature, and was promoted to be a Commander of the British Empire in 1992. She wrote incessantly throughout her life, and was still writing on the morning of her death. Sutcliff never married.

Books

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Eagle of the Ninth series

Arthurian novels

Also a part of the Eagle of the Ninth series
  • The Sword and the Circle (1979)
  • The Light Beyond the Forest (1979)
  • The Road to Camlann (1981)

Other children's novels

  • Chronicles of Robin Hood (1950)
  • The Queen Elizabeth Story (1950) illustrated by C. Walter Hodges.
  • The Armourer's House (1951)
  • Brother Dustyfeet (1952)
  • Simon (1953) illustrated by C. Walter Hodges.
  • Outcast (1955) illustrated by Richard Kennedy.
  • The Shield Ring (1956)
  • Warrior Scarlet (1958) illustrated by Charles Keeping.
  • Knight's Fee (1960) illustrated by Charles Keeping.
  • Bridge Builders (1960)
  • Beowulf: Dragonslayer (1961) illustrated by Charles Keeping; retells the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf.
  • The Hound of Ulster (1963) illustrated by Victor Ambrus; retells the story of the Irish hero Cúchulainn.
  • The Mark of the Horse Lord (1965) illustrated by Charles Keeping.
  • A Saxon Settler (People of the Past series) (1965)
  • The Chief's Daughter (1967)
  • The High Deeds of Finn MacCool (1967)
  • A Circlet of Oak Leaves (1968)
  • The Witch's Brat (1970)
  • Tristan and Iseult (1971)
  • The Truce of the Games (1971)
  • Heather, Oak, and Olive contains three dramatic stories: "The Chief"s Daughter," "A Circlet of Oak Leaves," and "A Crown of Wild Olive" (originally published as "The Truce of the Games") (1972).
  • The Capricorn Bracelet (1973) illustrated by Charles Keeping (a collection of six inter-connected short stories, following several generations of Roman soldiers serving at Hadrian's Wall from the 1st to the 4th centuries)
  • The Changeling (1974) illustrated by Victor Ambrus.
  • We Lived in Drumfyvie (1975) with Margaret Lyford-Pike.
  • Blood Feud (1976) illustrated by Charles Keeping.
  • Sun Horse, Moon Horse (1977)
  • Shifting Sands (1977)
  • Song for a Dark Queen (1978); retells the legend of the Celtic Queen Boudica.
  • Eagle's Egg (1981)
  • Bonnie Dundee (1983)
  • Flame-colored Taffeta (1986)
  • The Roundabout Horse (1986)
  • A Little Dog Like You (1987) illustrated by Victor Ambrus.
  • The Best of Rosemary Sutcliff (1987) contains Warrior Scarlet, The Mark of the Horse Lord, and Knight's Fee in one volume.
  • The Shining Company (1990) retells the events described in the Celtic poem Y Gododdin.
  • The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup (1993) illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark. Also serialised in Cricket Magazine.
  • Black Ships Before Troy (1993) illustrated by Alan Lee; retells the Iliad. Also serialised in Cricket Magazine.
  • Chess-dream in the Garden (1993)
  • The Wanderings of Odysseus (1995)
  • Sword Song (1997) published posthumously.

Non-fiction

  • Rudyard Kipling (1960); a monograph.
  • Heroes and History (1965) illustrated by Charles Keeping.
  • Blue Remembered Hills (1983); an autobiography.

Novels for adults (in chronological order by period)

  • Lady in Waiting (1957) Set in Tudor England- the story of Bess Throckmorton, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Rider of the White Horse (1959) Set in 17th century England during the Civil Wars period- a novel about Parliamentarian general Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife Anne, who traveled on campaign with him.
  • Sword at Sunset (1963) A story of King Arthur as the Romano-Celtic warrior prince he might really have been. Set in post-Roman Britain.
  • The Flowers of Adonis (1969) Set in ancient Greece- about the brilliant but erratic Athenian general Alkibiades and the Peloponnesian War
  • Blood and Sand (1987) Set during the Napoleonic Wars period, about real-life Scottish soldier, Thomas Keith, who converted to Islam after being captured by the Turks in Egypt, taking the name Ibrahim Aga, and becoming in 1812 governor of Medina.

Biography

  • Blue Remembered Hills (1983); Sutcliff's memoir of her youth.
  • Rosemary Sutcliff: Henry Z Walck, Inc., New York (1962); a brief biographical monograph by Margaret Meek.

External links


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