27 October 2006

Update on searching this blog

If you want to search this blog specifically (to see if we've covered something) there is now a way to do this properly. In the bar on the right of the screen there is a Technorati search box. Just type in what you're looking for, and it'll bring back the results.

26 October 2006

22 July 2006

Sending in cover shots

Ross kindly asked about sending in other cover shots of Sutcliff's books. People are always welcome to do this, but please note the following:

1. So you don't waste your time, check the blog's archives first to see if it's already been included. You can either trawl through the monthly archives (see right-hand side bar) or search the blog, using the search facility at the very top of the screen. However, I've just tried it now, searching on Sword at Sunset, and it's only brought up the msot recent blog! Perhaps it's not working properly at the moment? I have tried to give the posts clear headings, so you should be able to pick the titles out pretty easily.

2. Ensure your image is about 25kb. A bit higher or lower is OK, but I'm still on dial-up, so anything really large takes ages to download. I'm also then in the position of editing the image down anyway for uploading to the blog. So keep the images of a modest size.

Looking forward to seeing some new covers!

21 July 2006

UK Hardback Cover: Sword at Sunset




















Sword at Sunset, Bookclub, 1963
With thanks to David Mace who sent this to us.

20 April 2006

Song for a Dark Queen: brief review

Tony Keen, in his blog comments briefly on Song for a Dark Queen.

Update on 23rd April: Tony Keen comments on Rosemary Sutcliff.

10 April 2006

Teachers' Guide for Sutcliff's novels

Thank you to Sarah Johnson for mentioning this on her blog:

Farrar, Strauss and Giroux's (Sutcliff's US publisher) 12 page Teachers' Guide brochure

2 December 2005

A Rosemary Sutcliff editor

I recently came across the Ancient Worlds website. They have a forum for Children's Literature and this post by one of Sutcliff's editors will doubtless be of interest. Here is the same poster acknowledging that Sutcliff is out of fashion. And here are some comments on Sutcliff's book in general.

UK Hardback cover: Sword Song


Sword Song, Bodley Head, 1997

14 October 2005

UK Paperback cover: The Lantern Bearers


The Lantern Bearers, Oxford University Press, Paperback, 1972

5 September 2005

Dutch cover: The Lantern Bearers


Dutch The Lantern Bearers, supplied by Robert Vermaat: awaiting details.

Spot the deliberate mistake. Lorica segmentata went out of use probably around the 3rd century; the story is set in the 5th century.

Dutch hardback: Sword At Sunset


Dutch Sword At Sunset, supplied by Robert Vermaat: awaiting details.

Definitely the Richard Harris effect again ... But at least he's not in a grumpy mood this time!

21 August 2005

That's Sutcliff without an 'e' thank you!

Over on Anthony Lawton's blog, he says he too has noticed how often Rosemary Sutcliff's name is spelt with an 'e' on the end

He's also added some new entries, complete with photos, so hop over and check it out

Anonymous comments

Due to comments which primarily seem to be advertising, I have changed the comments facility to 'registered users' only. This is regrettable, but needs to be done; this blog is not for commercial advertising.

If you already have a blogger blog, there will be no problem if you wish to comment. If you don't have a blogger blog, it's easy to sign up, and you don't necessarily have to keep up with your blog (though it's fun, and you might find it addictive!) If you really don't want to sign up, then drop us a line at the above address; I'll be happy to post your comments for you. Looking forward to hearing from you!!!!

Things to come: Dutch books covers, as supplied by Robert Vermaat, more British book covers, plus eventually, I'll get around to typing in that Rosemary Sutcliff interview of mine.

20 August 2005

Paperback cover: The Mark of the Horse Lord


The Mark of the Horse Lord, Oxford University Press, Paperback, 1975

27 July 2005

When I waited for Rosemary Sutcliff

Robin Rowland, who wrote the review of King Arthur as linked in this blog a while back, has written a short piece about why he likes Rosemary Sutcliff in his blog.

10 July 2005

The Mark of the Horse Lord

Some Random Thoughts after Reading The Mark of the Horse Lord

I was delighted to hear that you've set up a Rosemary Sutcliff weblog. Reading through the posts and links, I was inspired to drop everything and re-read for perhaps the seventh or eighth time my favourite of her novels for children – The Mark of the Horse Lord. I am, incidentally, the proud possessor of a first edition, courtesy of my husband who received it as a fourteenth birthday present, long before I knew him.

Opening the book reminded me of the thrill of my first reading – this was a copy borrowed from the school library. I remember how quickly Sutcliff drew me into the world of her characters and caught me fast in the web of her storytelling, so that I was no mere looker-on, but in turn one of those belonging to Phaedrus's gladiator family, then a tribesman dancing to the rhythm of the wolfskin drum, warming himself at the house-place fire, or taking up his weapons for battle.

And as I read, the web was spun again, as strongly as the first time. I was enthralled and moved. And at the ending, I felt the same sharp pang of shock I had felt at that first reading, when I didn't want it to end the way it did, though something in me knew that this was the only fitting end; a more comfortable one would have been a betrayal of the story and the people who lived it. And it in its way, though tragic, the ending left me with a feeling of exhilaration, as I’m sure it was meant to.

So – The Mark of the Horse Lord has for me lost none of its magic. But what is that magic? I don't want to kill the dream with over-analysis but I do want to explore a few thoughts about Sutcliff’s writing that came to me as I read.

Sutcliff’s thrilling and thought-provoking storytelling is woven out of strong threads that draw the reader into the world of The Mark of The Horse Lord, and indeed into all of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels:

The characters who, in all their quirky individuality, spring fully-formed from the pages and take possession of the reader’s heart.

The themes that drive the characters: friendship and love, belonging and not-belonging, the struggle with some crippling handicap of mind or body, or both – and, perhaps above all, sacrifice: the willing sacrifice of the chieftain or king for his people. All these are themes that Sutcliff comes back to again and again, but of all her novels for children it’s perhaps in The Mark of the Horse Lord that they’re played out most fully. And these are demanding themes, whose darkness and complexity make the novel as rewarding for adults as it is for children.

The world the characters live in which becomes as real to readers as their own world. In Sutcliff’s hands, the natural world of weather and landscape, of fauna and flora, is more than a backcloth; it’s a character in its own right, vivid and three-dimensional. Thanks, I’m sure, to her early training as an artist and keen observer of nature, she paints with a few deft strokes everything from the broad sweep of heather moors to the wistfulness of a winter twilight, from the green, fragrant canopy of a forest down to the detail in a falling leaf or a flower petal. This is a world that we readers can touch and smell and feel, that we can, in effect, inhabit. And the imagery Sutcliff uses to bring her world alive is entirely right and fitting for its purpose. It strikes me that there’s no self-conscious artifice in its making. It’s natural and unforced, hewn simply out of the fabric of the world her people live in.

23 June 2005

The Dark Age Novels of Rosemary Sutcliff by Charles W Evans-Gunther - Part III

The final Dark Age book is The Shining Company and is, as far as I can see, completely divorced from the previous books. Rosemary Sutcliff has returned to the first person for this book, with Prosper telling his own story. It begins with Prosper, the son of a Welsh lord, being given an Irish slave - Conn - and we swiftly meet Luned, who makes up the youthful threesome. Their lives were soon to change when Prosper becomes second shield bearer to Prince Gorthyn ap Urfai of Rhyfunnog who is riding out to join Mynyddog's warband at Din Eidin. Rhyfunnog was a district of North Wales in Gwynedd Is Conwy, and in an area that is now called Clwyd.

They join the year-long preparation for a battle against the Angles of Bernicia. As the months pass by Conn, who is with Prosper, becomes interested in smithying and eventually is freed to become a smith. There we come across one of Miss Sutcliff's trademarks - an object that links up parts of the story. At the beginning of the novel Conn becomes fascinated by the stories told by Phanes of Syracuse, a merchant, and his Archangel Dagger, which has been brought from Constantinople. This, and Phanes, appear later in the story and have a profound effect on both Prosper and Conn. After the preparations, comes the campaign. Though the Britons cause the Angles great losses, the enemy eventually triumphs. The wounded Gorthyn is saved by Prosper and returns to Din Eidin. The novel ends with Gorthyn and Prosper making their way with the Archangel Dagger to Constantinople, and Conn returning to Luned in North Wales.

Rosemary Sutcliff's novels are well worth reading, even though they are in the main juvenile publications. Like all novelists, she puts her own peculiar stamp on them. In the Dark Age novels and the Roman series, we see some of her trademarks - in the passage of a youth to adulthood, her love of dogs and horses, healers and strange objects that lend continuity. Though she follows some of the traditional events, characters and so on, she always adds greater reality to the story.

Taking into account the information that was available in the period of writing of the earlier books, I feel that Rosemary Sutcliff's representation of the Dark Age may be near to the mark. You may not agree with how she put the character in a particular position; for example - Arthur being Ambrosius Aurelianus's nephew - but the over all feel seems right. Also, the way she depicts the everyday life of the various people is hard to fault. I do feel that her way of showing the growth of change from Roman, Romano-British to modern British is correct. Few people can claim purity of bood - no English person is pure English, and the same is true for Welsh, Irish or Scottish people. There are certain people in the British Isles that can trace their ancestors back to Normans who came over with the Conqueror, but they are not Norman now. The Light of the earlier novels did not go out - it changed into a different sort of illumination.

Bibliography

Fisher, Margery, 1986, Bright Face of Danger

Thompson, Raymond H, 1987, 'An Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff' Avalon to Camelot Volume II, No 3 (See a version of this at: The Camelot Project, Rochester University )

Townsend, John Rowe, 1971, A Sense of Story: Essay on Contemporary Writers for Children

Wintle, Justin & Fisher, Emma, 1974, The Pied Pipers

END

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