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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
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Listings for Reader:  

Rosemary Sutcliff


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unknown : [children's book]

'When I was about six, she decided that the time had come for me to learn to read. And that was when she made her mistake. Instead of merely sitting me down in front of Peter Rabbit, The Secret Garden or the Jungle Books and telling me to get on with it, she provided a dreadful book about a Rosy-Faced Family who Lived Next Door and Had Cats that Sat on Mats, and expected me to get on with that. I was outraged – I, who had walked the boards with the Crummles, and fought beside Beowulf in the darkened Hall of Heriot. I took one look, and decided that the best way of making sure that I should never meet the Rosy-Faced Family or any of their unspeakable kind in the future was not to learn to read at all. So I didn’t, and my mother never quite had the hardness of heart to stop reading to me. We had lessons and lessons and lessons; and we got practically nowhere.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Rosemary Sutcliff      Print: Book


Hans Christian Andersen : Little Match Girl, The

'She did take to reading me The Little Matchgirl rather more frequently as time went on. Maybe she hoped that I would learn to read as a means of avoiding that particular story, but I have a nasty suspicion that it was done as a means of providing light relief for herself, because The Little Match Girl always made me cry.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Rosemary Sutcliff      Print: Book


Grimm : Fairy Tales

'From a tattered old volume of Grimm’s Fairy Tales passed around among us, we learned to read, even I, at long last, discovering suddenly what the mystery was all about. I have no recollection of the actual process; I do not know how or why or when or wherefore the light dawned. I only know that when I went to Miss Beck’s Academy I could not read, and that by the end of my first term, without any apparent transition period, I was reading, without too much trouble, anything that came my way.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Rosemary Sutcliff      Print: Book


L.M. Montgomery : Emily of New Moon

'And then one day I found a book. It was a book called Emily of New Moon, about a little girl whose father died of consumption – that made a change, to start with - after which she was brought up by strict aunts in an old farmhouse somewhere in Canada. A Canadian story, not an American one; but I barely registered that at the time. What made it so different from other books of its kind I did not know, and I do not really know even now. But for me it was magic. I carried it off and kept it under my pillow or clutched to my bosom at bed-making time, and it seems as though I read it all that summer long, which can scarcely have been the fact; but I think I must have read it through, at first voraciously and then with slow and lingering delight, at least three times on the trot. And it was summer. On fine summer nights the beds remained out on the concrete strip all night, and I used to read, half under the bedclothes to evade Night Nurse’s eagle eye, until the last dregs of the light had drained away [...].'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Rosemary Sutcliff      Print: Book


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