Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Real Life Writing: Rosemary Sutcliff

I was introduced to Rosemary through a mutual friend. And if I had been born fifty years earlier, I could have really met her! Even though Rosemary had written many fabulous books, I had never heard of her. I started reading a little novella; I was instantly enthralled. Was this real? I desperately wanted it to be actually in history, not just pretend.
Roman Statue
And it was real. Or as close as historical fiction can come.

I fell in love with her Roman Britain stories, building a personal connection to an epoque that otherwise had "nothing" to do with me. This is the way to learn history, I wanted to shout.

Rosemary was herself an amazing character. Rheumatoid arthritis as a small child confined her to a wheelchair. But she kept her ears open, eagerly listening to her mother read and tell her myths and legends, as well as her father's friends and their naval stories. Her love of Rudyard Kipling's Roman stories eventually led to her creation of the "Roman Britain" series.

Jan Bloom describes her works in WHO SHOULD WE THEN READ, by BooksBloom pg.232)  "Some would argue that she is the best the entire centuryhas produced. Her works are detailed, imaginative and meticulously reearched...Her keen sense of place is so keenly developed that she does not bring history to the reader, she brings the reader into the past with its sights, sounds, weather, clothing, speech and customs."

Have you read a piece of historical fiction that captured you? Was it the place? The time period?


  1. I love Sutcliff! Although she does have an annoying tendency to kill off best friends (or everyone else).

    I like to read the classics that were written during that historical period. (Like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, etc.) Their once-contemporary works are as "real" as it gets. :) It's also fun to read the books my mom read as a young girl...not exactly historical, but definitely from a different time! (Did they REALLY wear that in the 80s??)

  2. Historical fiction is my favorite genre! These are a few of the authors who inspire me - Dumas, Taylor Caldwell, Mary Stewart, John Jakes, Alistair MacLean.

    In fact, I plan to release my historical fiction line next year. Up for some French, English and Scottish novels? :)

  3. Amanda: ah, the power an author!

    Shawn: I know some of those authors - I will need to check out the others! We'll look forward to your newest book!