1: Rosemary Sutcliff and Re-imagining Roman Britain (Documentary)
With millions of copies sold in a variety of languages, as well as various literary awards and a CBE to her name, Rosemary Sutcliff was one of the most successful 20th century authors of historical fiction.
Many of her works follow the adventures of a family across the generations, from Roman to Post-Roman Britain, beginning with Marcus in her most famous novel The Eagle of the Ninth. Alongside this series – known as the Dolphin Ring Saga – she also published several others novels set in Roman Britain, including Outcast, Mark of the Horse Lord, Song for a Dark Queen and The Capricorn Bracelet. Sutcliff was able to conjure an evocative picture of life in Roman Britain, not only regarding her characters and the material culture they interact with, but also the natural world that they inhabit. Although she passed away in 1992, Sutcliff’s impact continues to be felt to this day, with various archaeologists and historians having been inspired to pick up their trowels and pens by Sutcliff.
How Sutcliff came to imagine Roman Britain had much to do with her experiences in childhood and adolescence. She did not have an easy time growing up, with her father often away on naval duty for long periods at a time and her mother frequently experiencing depressive episodes. Moreover, she was diagnosed with Still’s Disease at a young age, which severely affected her mobility for the rest of her life, and her illness coupled with her family’s frequent moves meant her childhood was often lonely. However, one way in which Sutcliff was able to escape these issues was reading vast amounts of literature, with Rudyard Kipling her favourite author. Before becoming an author, she also found success as a painter, with her work displayed at the Royal Academy.
As the 14th December 2020 marks what would have been Sutcliff’s 100th birthday, we’ve put together an audio documentary about her life and works, exploring how she engaged with themes such as religion, nature, nationality, sexuality, material culture and disability Roman Britain, as well as her continuing impact today.
You can find out more about Rosemary Sutcliff at https://rosemarysutcliff.net/
Contributors to this documentary include:
- Anthony Lawton (Sutcliff’s Godson and Chair of Sussex Dolphin)
- Kate Gilliver (Cardiff University)
- Donald Gordon (The Trimontium Trust)
- Tony Keen (University of Notre Dame)
- Deborah Roberts (Haverford College)
- Giacomo Savani (Trinity College Dublin)
- Ellen Swift (University of Kent)
Voice-overs were provided by:
- Alex Davis (Rosemary Sutcliff)
- Lee Grana (Agricola)
- Andy Bates (Uncle Aquila)
- Phil Hughes (Esca)
- Jay Ingate (Alexios)
The music featured in this production includes:
• Peace of Mind
• Winds of the Rain Forest
• Garden Music
• Easy Lemon
• White Lotus
• Sad Trio
• Relaxing Piano Music
• Music for Manatees
All by Kevin Macleod
Along with ‘Time to Run Finale' by Dexter Britain
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