Wednesday, December 14, 2005

December 14: Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992)

Today (December 14) is the birthday of English writer Rosemary Sutcliff, born this date in 1920 in Surrey. She wrote mostly historical novels for young readers, books about Roman Britain and Arthurian themes. And she wrote a lot of them, with about sixty titles to her name.

Rosemary Sutcliff was diagnosed before the age of three with a form of arthritis, and she used a wheelchair throughout her life. In the 1920s and 1930s, that meant few opportunities to attend school, so her mother read to her at home: Kipling, Beowulf, fairy tales and legends of King Arthur. She showed talent as a painter of miniatures, and her novels reflect the same attention to detail. At least one of her well-known books, Warrior Scarlet (1958), features a physically disabled main character, a boy in Bronze Age Britain born with a "withered arm." A number of Sutcliff's titles are still in print, and older editions can be found on the bookshelves of many schools and libraries.

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