09 June 2009

Queen Remembers Forgotten Book

Much ado this morning over Suzanna, a yellow Labrador retriever the Queen has given the RCMP. According to the Globe and Mail, Elizabeth II was inspired to name the dog after Muriel Denison's children's book Susannah of the Mounties. No explanation for the spelling discrepancy. I'm willing to wager a small sum that no one at Buckingham Palace thought to check.

That our monarch was familiar with the novel is not surprising, Muriel Denison (1885-1954) was hugely popular in her youth. Susannah of the Mounties first published in 1936, the year of Elizabeth's tenth birthday – went through numerous editions, and was translated into French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. In 1939, Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott starred in a screen adaptation. As might be expected, the book spawned several sequels: Susannah of the Yukon (1937), Susannah at Boarding School (1938) and Susannah Rides Again (1940). Not one is currently in print. The most recent edition of any Denison title – predictably, Susannah of the Mounties – was published in 1976 by Collins.

The Queen is not alone in remembering Denison's writing fondly. Timothy Findley wrote that as a boy he 'feasted' on Denison, Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles G.D. Roberts. Can't say I shared the same taste, though I do recall watching Susannah of the Mounties on television one snowy Saturday afternoon. I leave you with this small appetizer:

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