Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Beginning with imagined memories of her own birth, Rosemary Sutcliff carries her autobiography, Blue Remembered Hills: A Recollection, up to the acceptance of her first books for children nearly thirty years later. The work is arranged chronologically and consists of seventeen short chapters with twelve black-and-white photographs. Throughout the account of her early years, Sutcliff maintains a dual perspective: The sensations that she remembers having are portrayed with simple immediacy, helping the reader to identify with the invalid child Rosemary, while, at the same time, the grown-up Sutcliff frequently reinterprets and evaluates the same events.

During a quiet infancy in Surrey, Sutcliff already displays great imaginative powers and a strong empathy for suffering. In the first chapter, she describes her belief that she was really the child of neighbors, left at the wrong house by the stork during a snowstorm. “It was a very bad storm, and my teeth were chattering,” she has been told, so “my mother let us come in and gave us both hot cocoa.” For quite some time, Sutcliff did not question this tale, and it did not occur to her that she “would have been unlikely to have teeth to chatter.” Sutcliff’s sympathy with suffering of all kinds arose when she was eighteen months old; she was horrified to see a caged squirrel in Poole Park. These earliest memories mark the only period of good health in her life. Subsequent...

(The entire section is 438 words.)