On Friday 23rd September, the Lutterworth team set sail for an Arthur Ransome adventure, featuring author Julian Lovelock, High Sheriff of Buckingham, Millie Soames and the original Titty Walker- best known as Sophie Neville- at the helm!
We were delighted to have launched the hotly anticipated Swallows, Amazons and Coots: A Reading of Arthur Ransome by Julian Lovelock.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Buckingham University, guest speakers Millie Soames and Sophie Neville, and of course, author Julian Lovelock and for making the event such a success!
In 1929, Arthur Ransome (1884–1967), a journalist and war correspondent who was on the books of MI6, turned his hand to writing adventure stories for children. The result was Swallows and Amazons and eleven more wonderful books followed, spanning in publication the turbulent years from 1930 to 1947. They changed the course of children’s literature and have never been out of print since. In them, Ransome creates a world of escape so close to reality that it is utterly believable, a world in which things always turn out right in the end.
Yet Swallows, Amazons and Coots shows that, to be properly appreciated today, the novels must be read as products of their era, inextricably bound up with Ransome’s life and times as he bore witness to the end of Empire and the dark days of the Second World War. In the first critical book devoted wholly to the series, Julian Lovelock explores each novel in turn, offering an erudite assessment of Ransome’s creative process and narrative technique, and highlighting his contradictory politics, his defence of rural England, and his reflections on colonialism and the place of women in society. Thus Lovelock demonstrates convincingly that, despite first appearances, the novels challenge as much as reinforce the pervading attitudes of their time.
Written with a lightness of touch and enlivened by Ransome’s own illustrations, Swallows, Amazons and Coots is both fresh and nostalgic. It will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed the world of Swallows and Amazons, and there is plenty here to challenge both the student and the Ransome enthusiast.
Like the Swallows and Amazons, Julian Lovelock spent his childhood summer holidays afloat and has been messing about in boats ever since. He was until recently a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Buckingham, where he became Dean of Arts and Languages and Pro Vice-Chancellor. He is a member of the Arthur Ransome Society, and editor of its journal, Mixed Moss.
Recent praise for Swallows, Amazons and Coots: A Reading of Arthur Ransome
“Lest we forget, what Rowling did for magicians in the noughties, Arthur Ransome did for sailing holidays in the 1930s and ’40s. In this charming but exacting study, Lovelock brings vividly alive the world of Swallows and Amazons and the intriguing character of its creator. Here is a real ‘spot in time’ of English culture. Lovelock presents the first serious study of the whole oeuvre, an apparently lost world of the certainties of Empire and the patriarchal family.”
Stefan Hawlin, Professor in English Literature, University of Buckingham
“An admirable introduction for newcomers to the Swallows and Amazons novels, written with detailed and expert knowledge. Julian Lovelock clearly has a deep affection and admiration for Ransome’s writing, and places the books in a rich and complex context. This is an elegant and leisurely guide through the books in the company of an amiable and well-informed companion.”
Peter Hunt, Professor Emeritus in Children’s Literature at Cardiff University and co-author of How Did Long John Silver Lose His Leg? (2013)
“This is a splendid and timely book. Julian Lovelock restores Arthur Ransome to his rightful place on one of the peaks of children’s fiction. Perhaps even more importantly, he reminds us, by way of a plainly and grippingly told tale, of the pleasure to be had when, returning as an adult to books treasured in childhood, we are seized once again by Ransome’s moral strength, his technical command whether of seafaring, copper-mining, birdlore or Arctic exploration, and the cordial power of his story-telling.”
Fred Inglis, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Sheffield
“There is always more in life than meets the eye. The delightful and unique Arthur Ransome stories from Swallows and Amazons to Great Northern? have captivated us over the years. But now we learn, thanks to this fascinating book, that there are more aspects and depths to the stories than we ever imagined. In no way does this diminish them – on the contrary. By giving us a more profound understanding of the author, the adventures and exploits of his characters take on an extra depth and dimension. These are stories for children that no adult should miss.”
Virginia McKenna, OBE
For more about the author, book extracts and reviews why not head to the Lutterworth website!
Likewise, to read a recent interview with Julian Lovelock, click here.
For more Swallows and Amazons news, follow the able seaman (the original Titty Walker) Sophie Neville on her own blog site.
If you’re interested in joining The Arthur Ransome Society, click here.
Otherwise, happy reading, shipmates!