Nevil Shute Norway Foundation


Final remarks.

Shute's books contain many nuggets of engineering detail in them; the appeal to me is that they are all accurate and so evidently drawn from his own knowledge and experience. As an example the RAF lorry in "Pied Piper" contains a Herbert lathe. Another author might have just said "a lathe" but Shute would have known that Herbert was a well known British make (and indeed many of them are still in use today). Aircraft ground engineers feature in many of his book, and of course take centre stage in "Round the Bend". Shute knew all about their need to have the right training and licences to service various makes of aircraft and how vital they are to keeping aircraft flying.

There were some great British engineers who were contemporaries of Nevil Shute - Barnes Wallis, Frank Whittle and Stanley Hooker to name but three. All three were intimately connected with the aircraft industry and all made their mark in, and remained in, professional engineering. Nevil Shute did not; his gifts lay in writing and his contributions to engineering development were relatively minor. Yet his novels are put together with precision and craftsmanship surely nurtured by his engineering background. In true engineering style nothing is wasted, everything works well and efficiently and the end product, his novels, give continuing pleasure to us all.

References and Further Reading

[1] I am indebted to Alan Tadiello, Assistant Librarian, Balliol College Oxford for providing copies of contemporary Examination Statutes for Engineering.

[2] Sir Stanley Hooker "Not Much of an Engineer" Airlife Publishing 1984

[3] Sir Charles Denistoun Burney "The World, the Air and the Future", Alfred Knopf, London 1929.

[4] Hindenburg: The Wrong Paint; Hydrogen: The Right Fuel , R G Van Treuren with Dr. Addison Bain.

[5] Pawle, Gerald "The Secret War" W.Sloane 1957.

[6] Discussion of P.B.Walker "Fatigue of Aircraft Structures", Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society Vol.53 (1949) pp763-778

[7] Griffith, Alan Arnold, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1964 vol 10 pp 117-136 by A A Rubbra

[8] J.E.Gordon "Structures or why things don't fall down" Penguin Books 1978

[9] Julian Smith, "Nevil Shute - a biography", The Paper Tiger, 2002.

[10] No. 3164, Sir William Congreve's patent of 1808 entitled "A New Principle of Measuring Time and Constructing Clocks and Chronometers."

Table 1
List of Subjects for Engineering Science Degree taken from Balliol College, Oxford, Statutes for 1926.
  1. Mathematics
  2. Physics
  3. Applied Mechanics
  4. Strength of Materials
  5. Surveying
  6. Applied Chemistry
  7. Structural Design
  8. Heat and Heat Engines
  9. Electrical Engineering
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