Rosemary Sutcliff

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 237

Born in West Clanden, Surrey, England, on December 14, 1920, Rosemary Sutcliff was educated privately and traveled widely until she was ten, when her father retired from the navy and the family settled in Devonshire. When she was young, Sutcliff suffered from an ailment that left her permanently disabled. She lists her interests as painting, needlework, dogs, and travel.

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She published her first book, The Chronicles of Robin Hood, in 1950 and began a literary career characterized by a wide range of historical fiction for both adults and children. She set her next three works in the Renaissance era and then began the trilogy about Roman Britain for which she is best known: The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, and The Lantern Bearers. The Eagle of the Ninth won the Phoenix Award of the Children's Literature Association in 1985, and The Lantern Bearers won the Carnegie Medal for the outstanding children's book of 1959.

Critics most often praise Sutcliff for the accuracy and detail of her historical settings and actions. Careful renderings of dress, food, custom, and place recreate vivid worlds of times past. Many critics have commented on the tragic themes in her books; Sutcliff responded to this in her acceptance speech for the Phoenix Award: "I don't believe one should make allowance for young readers, feed them pap.... Children should be allowed the great themes, which they can receive and make use of better than most adults can."

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