I’m not as good as I ought to be about noting why people are on the schedule. Sometimes I remember to give myself a note about the important detail. Not always. And generally, in that case, I fumble around and struggle and get through the thing after spending half an hour demanding of my family to find me a hook to get five paragraphs about the person. (They cannot do this.) And sometimes, I read the Wikipedia page and the IMDb page and say, “Oh, that’s what it was,” and the whole thing practically writes itself.
Rosemary Anne Sisson was the child of a prominent Shakespearean scholar. After a two-year hiatus to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, she completed her BA in English literature. She spent a while teaching in the US, then returned to the UK to complete her education, during which she started working as a drama critic in Stratford. She was inspired by Richard Burton’s performance in Henry V to write her first play, The Queen and the Welshman. It takes some doing to make your first play a historical piece about Elizabeth of Valois and Owen Tudor—in iambic pentameter. Well done for her, I suppose.
She was the first female full member of the Dramatists’ Guild, being a big deal in British drama circles for a very long time. She also wrote for the BBC, and this is where you might think she grabbed me, because one of the things she did was what I think of as “the good Lord Peter series,” the one where the focus is as much on Harriet as on Peter. And she did write those, and I do love them, and that’s not it. Nor is her work on Elizabeth R. Or her work on The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Yes, that puts me directly in her wheelhouse, but that’s not the “oh, that’s what it was” moment.
It turns out she was one of the screenwriters for Candleshoe. And The Black Cauldron, but Candleshoe. She was one of two people responsible for taking a book about a decrepit estate and its eccentric residents and turning it into a low-key thriller about Feisty Orphan Jodie Foster hunting for treasure and conning, or possibly not, Helen Hayes. The Watcher in the Woods and A Town Like Alice are noteworthy credits, but Candleshoe is my hands-down favourite live-action Disney movie, and the woman who wrote it has a special place in my heart even if I didn’t know anything about her yet.
Should I still have noted this on my schedule? Yes, probably. I assume I thought that it was prominent enough in her respective pages that I’d know. I will not learn my lesson from this and am not going to pretend that I have; the people where I hem and haw for five paragraphs are much stronger lessons about that. Rosemary Anne Sisson turns out to have been interesting for too many reasons. I really want to see that play now, just for starters. It turns out her career is made of hooks, and that’s not going to teach me anything except about her career.