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First edition cover
|Cover artist||William Stobbs|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
Simon is a children's historical novel written by Rosemary Sutcliff, first published in 1953. It is set during the English Civil War, and shows the effect of the conflict on two friends, who find themselves on opposite sides. It is her fifth novel, acknowledged to be the first in which she displayed the mastery of subject and style for which she is known.
The story begins on the eve of the English Civil War in 1642. Simon's father goes off to fight for Parliament but orders Simon to finish school first. Simon's close boyhood friend Amias is a Royalist. A few months later, after finishing his education, Simon goes to Windsor, and the New Model Army. He is fortunate to fall in with General Fairfax. Simon's troop heads west and is ordered to capture a house at Okeham Paine, where he finds himself fighting against Amias. When Simon hears that the Parliamentarian army is in Torrington, he joins them for the battle there. The enemy is defeated. When a huge explosion blows up the church, suspicion falls upon Amias. Simon becomes involved in assisting the injured Amias and also falls under suspicion. General Fairfax deals wisely and compassionately with them. Both survive the Civil War and resume their friendship.
Rosemary Sutcliff wrote that it is a fiction based on real events - "Most history books deal with the final campaign of the civil war in a single paragraph, and the Battle of Torrington they seldom mention at all. In this story I have tried to show what that final campaign in the west was like, and to re-fight the battles fought over my own countryside. Most of the people I've written about really lived; Torrington Church really did blow up, with 200 Royalist prisoners and their Parliamentary Guard inside, and no one has ever known how it happened, though Chaplain Joshua Sprigg left it on record that the deed was done by 'one Watts, a desperate villain'".