Monday, June 5, 2017

An Almost 60-year-old Duh Moment

I first read Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Sherwood Ring in 1958 when I was in the eighth grade. Along with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, this book has remained one of my favorites. In fact, when I wrote my first historical novel for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, I consciously and unconsciously modeled elements of my story after The Sherwood Ring as a kind of homage in its honor.

I enjoy word plays/puns and the like. When I was writing my story, I discovered that there was an antique farm tool (a kind of large sieve) called a "riddle". (One of the few extant uses of this in English today is "riddled with bullets", meaning full of holes like a sieve.) As soon as I heard such an implement existed, I made a point of 1. making one of these a key part of my plot and 2. putting it into my title, so that its double meaning would (as I like to think of it) reverberate nicely.

A Riddle
So you may imagine my chagrin when I suddenly realized that Elizabeth Marie Pope did something similar more than half a century ago when she named her story The Sherwood Ring.

And I totally missed it!

Until now.

Ok, in my own defense, I would like to say that I was blinded by the fact that there is an actual Sherwood ring in the story, the kind worn on the finger. But what I did NOT think about was that the whole story centers on Peaceable Sherwood, a super-competent British officer, assigned with the task of coordinating local Tories (in upstate New York) into a secret fighting force.

I believe that such a secret group of men is called a ring.

So this book's title, The Sherwood Ring, is a double-meaning word play exactly like what I did in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.

Duh.  



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