Rosemary Sutcliff

Rosemary Sutcliff

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. During the early years of her illness she had to lie on her back and was read to a great deal by her mother. From the age of five onwards she was enjoying the works of such authors as Dickens, Thacheray and Trollope, together with Dewulf in Greek and Roman legends. She did not learn to read herself until she was nine, when she found that normal children's books were insipid reading. When she was nine the family moved to a house in the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, and she was sent to a little dame school under the kindly eighty-six year old Miss Amelia Beck.

Apart from her own private and voracious reading, Rosemary Sutcliff made little progress with formal studies and left school at fourteen to attend the Art School in Bideford. Here she specialised in miniature painting and early in the 1940's exhibited her first miniature in the Royal Academy and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters just after the war.

In 1950 her first children's book, The Queen's Story, was published and from then on she devoted her time and talents to writing the 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 best-known of these is her The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2004. The author writes with such passion and attention to detail that the Roman age is instantly brought to life for readers. The gripping and exciting plots make these books real page-turners. One of them, The Lantern Bearers, was awarded the 1959 Carnegie Medal.

Rosemary Sutcliff received an OBE in the 1975 Birthday Honours List. Sadly, she died in 1992 at the age of 72.


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