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Authors: Kevin Crossley-Holland

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King of the Middle March (32 page)

BOOK: King of the Middle March
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Hemesh Alles has drawn and redrawn attractive maps, as well as provided additional artwork based on medieval sources; Gillian Crossley-Holland lent me books on beekeeping and the stars; Maryann Johnson corrected my sketchy Italian; Ann Jones enlightened me about “hiraeth” and matters Welsh; Mike Tapper unearthed valuable information on early medieval galleys; and the Tree Advice Trust taught me about olives and apricots.

I've used “The Heart-in-Waiting” and lines from “Swarm and Honeycomb” from my
Selected Poems
(Enitharmon Press, 2001), and two short passages from my translation of
(Oxford University Press, 1999). I'm grateful to the BBC for inviting me to review the problems and pleasures of writing this trilogy in its admirable and regretted Radio 3 series,
Work in Progress.

My heart leaped when, last summer, Rodney Slatford most generously offered me a silent house in which to write when interruptions on my own doorstep threatened to overwhelm me. Richard Barber, Arthurian scholar and medievalist, not only lent me absorbing research material, but he and his wife, Helen, accompanied me and my wife to the Dalmatian coast to see Zara (Zadar) and discover how to lay siege to it. In typing and correcting very many drafts of this book, Claire Conway has been unfailingly patient and blessedly good-humored, even when confronted with literally thousands of revisions. I am so grateful to her.

My wife, Linda, has made a quite extraordinary contribution—discussing the issues, suggesting provocative ways of fictionalizing them, fine-tuning the text, choosing the illustrations, and emboldening me with her tolerance, unwavering support, and love. This trilogy has engaged us, side by side, for almost five years.

Many of my foreign publishers and translators have become friends and heartened me with their hospitality and regular encouragement: especially, perhaps, Joukje Akveld at Lemniscaat and Asfrid Hegdal at N.W. Damm. I owe particular thanks to Arthur Levine for his rapid and generous response to a draft of this book, and his incisive comments on it.

The success of any book, let alone a trilogy, depends on a team effort. So I thank in particular the children's books department at Orion: Judith Elliott, Fiona Kennedy, Alex Webb, Jane Hughes, Rowan Stanfield, and Iona Campbell. Judith has given this text the benefit of repeated close readings and made very many helpful suggestions, as well as known how to urge me on, and when not to. I first wrote for her thirty years ago, and she is a dear friend and a great editor. This book is dedicated to her.

And finally: All the names in the Middle March are taken from Ordnance Survey maps with the exception of Caldicot, Holt, Verdon, Gortanore, and Catmole. But these are no more than my names for five stunning early medieval sites. Maybe some of my readers will be tempted to go and find them.


JUNE 16, 2003


countryside at the foot of a high hill. While an undergraduate at Oxford University, he fell in love with the Middle Ages and Anglo-Saxon poetry—a passion now reflected in his many highly praised collections and retellings of medieval stories and myths. In 1985, he received the Carnegie Medal for his novel
The Seeing Stone,
the first book in his Arthur trilogy, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award and the
Los Angeles Times
Book Prize. It was also named an ALA Notable Book for Older Readers. The Arthur trilogy has won worldwide acclaim and is being published in twenty-one languages. It has already sold more than a million copies.

Kevin writes: “Writers, painters, composers, filmmakers, artists of all kinds have been visitors to Camelot for more than eight hundred years. If you, too, want to spend more time with some of the characters Arthur de Caldicot sees in his stone, there are dozens of ways of doing so. Some of the better Arthurian novels written during my lifetime are
The Sword in the Stone
by T. H. White (adapted by Lerner and Loewe for
and by Walt Disney);
The Lantern Bearers
Sword at Sunset
by Rosemary Sutcliff;
The Dark Is Rising
(set in modern Britain) and other novels by Susan Cooper;
Merlin Dreams
by Peter Dickinson; and
by Catherine Fisher. When I taught in an American university, my students particularly enjoyed
The Mists of Avalon
by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Donald
The King.
Or how about Tennyson's wonderful poems,
Idylls of the King,
and the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, and the film
? All these works were inspired by the great medieval Arthurian romance writers; like mine, they're new leaves on an old tree.”

Kevin and his wife, Linda, live on the coast of the North Sea in Norfolk, England.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

Text copyright © 2003 by Kevin Crossley-Holland. All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Inc., by arrangement with Orion Children's Books, London, England.
, the
, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

First paperback printing, March 2006

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E-ISBN: 978-0-545-23176-3

BOOK: King of the Middle March
11.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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