Rosemary Sutcliff - Author

About the Author

Rosemary Sutcliff was born in Surrey, the daughter of a naval officer. At the age of two she contracted the progressively wasting Still's disease, and hence spent most of her life in a wheelchair. Although an avid reader, Rosemary made little progress with formal studies.

She left school at the age of fourteen to attend art school in Bideford, where she specialized in miniature painting. Her first children's book was published in 1950, and from then on she devoted her time and talents to the writing of children's historical novels, which have placed her name high in the field of contemporary children's literature.

Many of her books are set in Roman Britain, a period which particularly interested her. The second in The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, The Lantern Bearers, was awarded the 1959 Carnegie Medal.

In her lifetime, Rosemary Sutcliff was awarded the OBE and the CBE. Sadly, she died in 1992 at the age of 72.

Featured books by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/11/2020

Back when I was not yet released to rampage through the adult stacks of my library, there were still treasures to be found in the ‘Children’s Section.’ Top of my list was Rosemary Sutcliff. I later did read her few adult historical fictions, but for me the essence of her greatness lies in the so-called Young Adult books. Sutcliff almost owned Roman Britain, and then the time when they began to withdraw, exploring. She kindled — actually, she ignited like a pyromaniac — my early passion for books about the past. Her most famous novel is probably The Eagle of the Ninth, about a young officer headed north in Britain at a precarious time for the Empire. He’s doing so in an immensely dangerous attempt to reclaim the lost standard of the Ninth Legion — it was his father’s legion, and it had disappeared in the north, beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Mood, period, place, narrative… what, for a young boy on the Canadian prairie, was there not to fall in love with? Sutcliff is not just for younger people. They aren’t to be allowed all the pleasures. Selected by our Spring 2021 Guest Editor, Guy Gavriel Kay

The Iliad

The Iliad

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/08/2014

A stunningly illustrated edition of Homer’s classic adventure story which has been vibrantly retold by the late Rosemary Sutcliff who adds her own story-telling magic to Homer’s original. The stories which led to the Greek’s siege of Troy, which include The Golden Apple, The Death of Achilles, The Wooden Horse and The Fall of Troy among many others, seamlessly weave the worlds of gods and men into one strand. Alan Lee’s illustrations evoke the heroism of the human Greek warriors – and their cruelty – while also bringing the shadowy gods convincingly to life.

The Eagle (Film Tie-In Edition)

The Eagle (Film Tie-In Edition)

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2011

Top historical novelist Manda Scott has selected this title as one of her favourite books.  See below our review for her comment.   STOP PRESS: The UK premiere of The Eagle took place in Leicester Square on 9 March 2011. Huge crowds were there to see Channing Tatum and other stars of the film walk up the red carpet and join in the celebrations.  We were lucky enough to join the stars and rest assured it's a great film.  Whether you've read the book on which its based or not, it's a film well worth seeing but do read the book as well. It's a classic of children's literature.The Eagle of the Ninth is one of the most celebrated children's books of the twentieth century and is now the subject of a major film, THE EAGLE, starring Channing Tatum. This new edition, with its movie tie-in cover, is being published to coincide with the film's release - see below for the trailer.It's a welcome return of a classic story of loyalty and bravery at the time of the Romans. Brought up the stories of his father’s heroism and speculation about how he and his 5,000 soldiers disappeared without trace, Marcus sets out to try to unravel the mystery. His journey is full of danger and emotion which makes this both a thrilling adventure and a thoughtful story about one boy's search for his missing father.   From Manda Scott: "Sutcliff herself said that her books were designed to be read by 'children of all ages from eight to 88', but she didn't, I think, fully understand the impact of what she had written. Log on to any historical website, talk to any group of amateur or professional archaeologists or historians, and say the magic words, The Eagle of the Ninth. You will find that a good percentage of those present will agree that their entire life's path has been moulded on a single reading at a formative age. I was eight years old when I read it, but it opened doors that have never closed. I was captivated not so much by Marcus Aquila and his quest for the lost eagle of his father's legion, but by Esca, the captured Briton, and the barbarian tribes that lived north of Hadrian's Wall. They were wild, savage and magical; they spoke to seals, to horses, to hounds and conducted shamanic ceremonies that were closed to outsiders.  Sutcliff based her narrative on the then-recent finding of a wingless legionary eagle beneath an altar stone and coupled it with the myth of the Ninth legion's disappearance around 117AD. Scholars now will tell you that there's no evidence the Ninth was ever lost, and reasonable evidence that it was simply recalled to Rome at a time when nobody was paying much attention; that it vanished from history rather than reality. But the Twelfth legion definitely did lose its eagle to enemy forces at the massacre of Beth Horon and, given that it survived in later centuries, must have got it back again. From such grains, do novels grow – and they grow remarkably fast. I have waited 40 years to write this without realising I was waiting, and now that it's done, I can confirm that when an author says that a book wrote itself, they're not necessarily lying. Before I could begin, of course, I had to re-read the book I had loved in my childhood. If this is going to be an homage to a great writer – which it is – it was important to know the rhythms of speech, the flow, the narrative drive; even to find out if it was written in first-person or third, because I never noticed that kind of thing in the headlong rush to finish the story. For the record, it's written in first-person from a Roman viewpoint; and it's every bit as amazing as I remember: short and lyrical and beautiful and full of the small anachronisms that have only become apparent as our understanding of Roman arms and armour has grown. None of which matter in the least." To read the whole article which appeared in the Independent click here.  

Other books by Rosemary Sutcliff

Tristans Liebe

Tristans Liebe

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Ebook Release Date: 07/07/2017

Tristan hatte Isolde nicht lieben durfen und Isolde nicht Tristan, denn sie war von Konig Marke auserwahlt. Nur deshalb, so vermutet Rosemary Sutcliff, fugten die hofisch-mittelalterlichen Erzahler das Motiv des von beiden versehentlich genossenen Liebestranks ein. Sie greift auf das alte - wilde, dunklere - keltische Original zuruck und erzahlt in wunderbarer Weise, wie sich die tiefe Liebe zwischen der irischen Konigstochter Yseult und dem kornischen Helden Tristan entwickelt.

Beowulf, Dragonslayer

Beowulf, Dragonslayer

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/07/2016

In this thrilling re-telling of the Anglo-Saxon legend, Beowulf, the renowned children's historical fiction writer Rosemary Sutcliff recounts Beowulf's most terrifying quests: against Grendel the man-wolf, against the hideous sea-hag and, most courageous of all - his fight to the death with the monstrous fire-drake.

The Eagle of the Ninth

The Eagle of the Ninth

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/09/2015

The Everyman edition reprints the classic black and white illustrations of C. Walter Hodges which accompanied the first edition in 1954. Around the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum - modern day York - marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again. During the 1860s, a wingless Roman Eagle was discovered during excavations at the village of Silchester in Hampshire, puzzling archaeologists and scholars alike. Rosemary Sutcliff weaves a compelling story from these two mysteries, dispatching her hero, the young Roman officer Marcus Aquila, on a perilous journey beyond Hadrian's Wall to find out what happened to the discredited legion in which his father served, and to salvage, if he can, its Eagle and its honour. All the essential elements of a classic adventure are here - the daring quest, the uncovering of the secrets of the past, and a nerve-racking escape across the mountains, pursued by vengeful tribesmen. But it is the human element which triumphs, and one of the most memorable scenes in the book is Marcus appealing to a crowd baying for blood to save a young British gladiator from certain death during the Saturnalia Games. Proud son of a Brigantian chieftain, Esca becomes his slave, then his freedman, and the indispensable companion of his travels. The Eagle of the Ninth is partly the story of their growing friendship, crossing the divide created by conquest and colonialism; and partly Marcus's journey of self-discovery as he learns of his father's fate and comes to terms with the end of his own military career. At the end he embraces a different, more hopeful future - not in Rome but 'under the pale and changeful northern skies' - acquiring a farm in the Downs, and marrying the girl next door. The Eagle of the Ninth has all its author's hallmark qualities - a mature and complex story, a wealth of historical detail, cultural sensitivity, wit and compassion. Above all, Sutcliff is able to conjure up the atmosphere of a distant age in a totally convincing way. It is hardly surprising that her work would set the standard for all historical fiction to come.

The Sword and the Circle

The Sword and the Circle

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/07/2015

Rooted in folklore, medieval ideals of chivalry, and the last gallant struggles of the British against the Saxon invaders, the legends of King Arthur have been told in song and story since the middle ages. The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff tells of the birth of Arthur, the gift of Excalibur, the forming of the Round Table and the first noble quests of its knights until the arrival of Percival . . .

Warrior Scarlet

Warrior Scarlet

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/06/2014

Drem longs for the day he will win his Warrior Scarlet. But with a withered spear arm, how will he take part in the ritual Wolf Slaying which will prove his worth as a man of the tribe? With over forty books to her credit, Rosemary Sutcliff is now universally considered one of the finest writers of historical novels for children. Winer of the Carnegie Medal and many other honours, Rosemary was awarded a CBE in 1992 for services to children's literature.

Tristan And Iseult

Tristan And Iseult

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/04/2014

Rosemary Sutcliff's starkly simple retelling of the uniquely tragic and romantic story of the warrior Tristan and his love for the fair Iseult of Ireland, his uncle's chosen bride.

Song For A Dark Queen

Song For A Dark Queen

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2014

From the day Cadwan fashioned a sword from a willow wand and composed a victory song for his young mistress, Boudicca, he has loyally charted her rise to Queen. Boudicca is the strong and brave leader of the Iceni tribe - courageously guiding her people from one victorious battle to her next. Then Emperor Nero rules that the royal line of the Iceni is to be ended, and Boudicca knows this is one battle she cannot afford to lose . . .

Simon

Simon

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/03/2014

It had never seemed important during their boyhood that Simon Carey was for Parliament and his friend Amias Hannaford a royalist. But when Civil War breaks out, they find themselves fighting on different sides. Finally the day comes when the friends must put their friendship to the test.

Blood Feud

Blood Feud

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/01/2014

Jestyn the Englishman had once been Thormod the Viking's slave, but after saving Thormod's life he became his shoulder to shoulder man and sworn brother in the deadly blood feud to avenge Thormod's murdered father, a feud that would take them all the way to Constantinople.

The Mark of the Horse Lord

The Mark of the Horse Lord

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2014

'Take my place, Phaedrus, and with it, take my vengeance . . .' Phaedrus the gladiator wins his freedom after years of bloody battles in the arena. Soon he finds himself riding north towards the wilds of Caledonia on a strange mission. He is to assume the identity of Midir, Lord of the Horse People, to seek vengeance against the treacherous Liadhan, who has usurped the throne. Ahead of him lies more adventure and more danger than he had ever known in the arena . . .

Knight's Fee

Knight's Fee

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/12/2013

Randall is an unloved and unwanted orphan kennel boy at Arundel Castle. And then, one fateful day, he upsets the new Lord's mettlesome horse. Against the violent and turbulent backdrop of Norman England, Sutcliff tells the moving story of a young boy who is wagered and won in a game of chess between a lord and a minstrel...

Frontier Wolf

Frontier Wolf

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/12/2013

'We are the scum and the scrapings of the Empire. They tipped out the garbage-bin of the Eagles to make us what we are.' In disgrace after a mistake that cost the lives of half his men, Alexios arrives in Castellum. It's his first command, but it isn't really a promotion. The Frontier Wolves who man this outpost in the far north of Roman Britain are a fierce and savage bunch, a far cry from the regular legions he'd served in before. Alexios will only survive if he learns to understand them and win their respect - and he's determined to try.

Flame-Coloured Taffeta

Flame-Coloured Taffeta

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/10/2013

Damaris Crocker had not lived her twelve years in smuggling country without knowing when a Run was planned. This night smugglers would bring more than just the usual contraband of brandy and lace. They would bring adventure, romance and danger in the form of a mysterious, wounded, young man . . . With over forty books to her credit, Rosemary Sutcliff is now universally acknowledged one of the finest writers of historical novels for children. Winner of the Carnegie Medal and many other honours, Rosemary was awarded the CBE in 1992 for services to children's literature.

The Chronicles of Robin Hood

The Chronicles of Robin Hood

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2013

This is a classic tale of adventure and bravery charting the transformation of Robert of Locksley into Robin Hood, the outlaw of myth and legend. Join Robin and his band of Merry Men as they battle injustice and seek to defeat the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne.

The Sword And The Circle

The Sword And The Circle

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/08/2013

Rooted in folklore, medieval ideals of chivalry, and the last gallant strugglesof the British against the Saxon invaders, the legends of King Arthur have been told in song and story since the middle ages. The Sword and the Circle tells of the birth of Arthur, the gift of Excalibur, the forming of the Round Table and the first noble quests of its knights until the arrival of Percival . . .

The Light Beyond the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail

The Light Beyond the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/08/2013

Rooted in folklore, medieval ideals of chivalry, and the last gallant strugglesof the British against the Saxon invaders, the legends of King Arthur have been told in song and story since the middle ages. When Percival comes to Camelot and Galahad sits in the Seat Perilous, as Merlin foretold, the quest for the Holy Grail scatters Arthur's Knights far and wide, bringing death to many and bitter disappointment to the great Lancelot . . .