Book Review

2003-10/October 1, 2003


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Living in a Paper Bag

After the UK 2003 Conference Steph Gallagher reported that there seemed to be confusion among some members resulting in the idea that The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation was a wealthy organization and consequently it should put on its conferences for free. This is not true.

The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation is purely and simply an association of people who love Nevil Shute. It has no funding base except for generous donations from some of its members. I believe that newcomers may think we are wealthy because of the excellence of our website, the enthusiasm of our members and the existence of our educational and very enjoyable, entirely self-funding, conferences. In these terms we are wealthy beyond belief but as far as filthy lucre is concerned, we are poor but happy living in a paper bag in the middle of the road.

One of the first events in my new role as newsletter editor was to be christened by receiving many virus-created emails with attachments amazingly addressed from "accounts@Nevil Shute" and "admin@nevilshute". These are convincing sounding addresses that certainly don't exist. These went straight into the trash or, as my boss used to say, "they were filed under "R" for rubbish". Please be aware. We NEVER send attachments. If you get an email supposedly from us, with an attachment, it IS a virus. I am also now etting viruses with attachments disguised as Microsoft Security Patches and others disguised as bounced back emails that I didn't send, so Be Afraid of all attachments; Be Very Afraid.

As the new Newsletter Editor I felt it my duty to go over the website from top to bottom just in case anyone was foolish enough to ask me a question about it. I found I was very impressed with its scope and density and if you haven't been through it recently, I urge you to do so. I was particularly interested in, and quite touched by, parts of the text of Shirley Norway's speech at The Centennial in 1999. This can be found in the Biography section under Oral Histories.

The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation has come a very long way from a mid 1990s side interest page on a Canadian scientist's website. When I first read Nevil Shute about 20 years ago, I could only wonder at what was behind this wonderful author. Now every new reader can find out a truly enormous amount of interesting, relevant information.

In taking over the writing of the newsletter and the answering of the letters from Dan, I would like to say thank you to Dan Telfair for all his hard work over the years. Dan is not retiring (I have never heard anyone describe Dan as retiring) but he is happy to farm out some of the work to Steph Gallagher and myself. I only hope that Steph and I can do half as well at the work that Dan has done alone for so long.

I want to apologize for the length of this first newsletter but interesting things just kept flooding in as I was compiling it and though I probably should be just a moderator, I am already getting drunk with power and find myself writing longer and longer editorials, replies and comments.


Shute Research

The search for more information about Nevil Shute goes on. Starting this month, John Anderson in England is coordinating with Andy Burgess to search the archives of The DMWD. The British Admiralty's Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development (DMWD) was where Shute spent WW2 developing secret weapons. The files are at The Public Records Office at Kew in London. Anyone interested in helping John and Andy should contact John so they can co-ordinate their efforts. We understand that there are 40 large files of these records, which will require many hours of careful searching.

If you would like to help John, please contact him so we don't have five people separately going through the first 8 files 5 times over when, working together, the whole project could be done more thoroughly and relatively quickly. If I lived in the UK I would be in like a shot.

As I understand it, these are the original files for every project the DMWD worked on during WW2. If you volunteer you should find yourself opening and reading secret files unopened since WW2. If you do this you are required by tradition to perform the following ritual seen in every film featuring an archive search.

First of all, you must reverently wipe a cobweb from the front of the file while standing in the basement of the dark, old and ricketty Public Record Office. Then, sitting amongst stacks of musty books and records at a lonely corner desk in a beam of sunlight from a footpath-level skylight high above the large, columned and vaulted, Victorian basement room, you must blow some dust off the file that will spiral up in little motes into the beam of sunlight. At this point a friendly old codger with a West Country accent who has worked at the office "these seventy foive years, man and boy, Urrr" will bring you a cup of tea and you will discover he knew Nevil Shute very well and will gladly tell you everything you ever wanted to know without having to do any of that silly, boring reading.

The reality is that the Public Records Office is probably, and sadly, a spotless and brightly lit 1990s building and your assistant will have pimples and bop his head while he listens to very loud Walkman earphones while you ask him complicated questions. In spite of reality I urge you to help John Anderson as this is one area of Shute's life that, because of wartime secrecy, is still somewhat vague. Contact John at:

Norman Pasley in The UK recently spent time researching Shute in the Local History Section of Portsmouth Central Library. The library's collection consists of newspaper cuttings and envelopes containing a variety of items including photographs. Norman has already interviewed Henry Cutting who was Shute's office boy at Airspeed and Lady Mackworth who was a contemporary of the Shutes when they lived at Hayling Island. I expect that the results of Norman's enthusiastic and much appreciate research will soon appear on the website.

In the letters section, there are two further great examples of interesting Shute research.

The Mystery Watch

I would tell you about this but it's a mystery. For clues see Steph Gallagher's report further down the page. No skipping the other articles now.

Mr Norway

Keith De La Rue has recently completed a great update to his Mr Norway web page at:

Keith has accumulated more fascinating information about Shute's Jaguar and his racing career. Keith's website also includes details about the making of the movie "On The Beach" in Melbourne in 1959. The site has photos of Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and other cast members during the shooting of the racing scenes. Please take some time to visit Keith's site. You won't be disappointed. Keith asks that anyone with reminiscences, information or memorabilia of the making of On The Beach in 1959 contact Philip Davey, who is writing a book about the making of the movie. I have spoken to Philip and the book promises to be a terrific record of the making of the film and of Australian life and culture in the 1950s. Philip is off to Los Angeles soon to interview Donna Anderson who is the last surviving principal cast member. He has also gained permission to access the files of Stanley Kramer through Kramer's widow, who is enthusiastic about the project. You can email Philip at: or call him Melbourne, Australia on +61 (3) 9238 8410 I am sure that Philip would appreciate any advice, assistance and local knowledge that Shutists in the LA area could provide him.

Shute Tourism

I am trying to collect and collate information to create a Shute Tourism section on the website dedicated to helping members visit locations mentioned in Nevil Shute books. Anyone who has already made a Shute Pilgrimage is encouraged to write to me. I already have a lot of research on file. An example of this sort of travel research is to be found in this month's letters section.

Photo Album Updates

Jack Calaway has done substantial work reprogramming the website that will allow easier additions to the Photo Album over the coming months. This will include the re-casting of the Photo Album as a combined Photo Album and Time Line when many new photos will be added. Suggestions about the content or appearance of the website are always very welcome. Suggestions for the website which demand complicated research and hard work are more welcome if they come from someone enthusiastically volunteering to help with the fun of doing the complicated research and the hard work.

The US 2005 Conference

The next international conference dedicated to consuming tea and scones at which some of us may, by pure chance, talk about Nevil Shute, will be in the US in 2005. The location has yet to be decided.


Steph now handles the administration of the website in concert with our brilliant webmaster Jack Calaway.

Website Updates

Frequent visitors to the website may have noticed that the portrait of Nevil Shute on the homepage now changes regularly.  We have loaded a number of photographs which will automatically rotate.  If you have a photo of Nevil Shute which you would like to see included, please contact Steph Gallagher directly at: The Foundation page has also been updated to include details of all foundation board members and associated tasks. Lastly, for those of you who enjoy a bit of a mystery: "Have you seen this watch"?  Check out the website and help us track down a Nevil Shute Rolex!


The foundation has received numerous enquiries about the availability of Nevil Shute titles in languages other than English.  To aid readers, we are planning on expanding the translations section of the website. If you are aware of any titles in languages other than English, please can you contact Steph Gallagher directly at: We are interested to know: the title in English, the title in the local language, the translation of the local language title back into English, the publisher and, if possible, the supplier.

UK 2003 Feedback

The Gatherings section of the website has been updated to include feedback received on the conference.  For brevity, responses have been abridged slightly, however I think you will find it interesting reading. Many thanks go out to all of you who provided feedback. It really is very valuable for helping us plan events for the future.

The Nevil Shute Library - UK Branch

The foundation is setting up a UK branch of the Nevil Shute Lending Library. If you have any items you would like to donate to the foundation for this library, please do contact Steph Gallagher directly at: All items in the library will be available for free loan, but borrowers would be asked to reimburse postage & packaging costs.


UK Shutist, Rev John Wilcox is interested in contacting any Shutists in his area.  John is not on the internet, but has asked us to publish his address for people to contact him directly.  Rev John Wilcox, 5 Duncan Avenue, REDCAR, TS10 5BX, UK.


Tax Exempt Status

Dan Telfair reports that he continues to work on gaining US Tax Exempt status for The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation. This work involves preparing expense sheets, bills, receipts, budget analyses and reports etc. covering the last five years including the Centennial, OZ2001, UK2003, the Library, the Scholarship program, gifts to the Alice Springs Library, etc., etc. Dan is trying to reconstruct a financial history to go along with the application. It appears that it will be a close race between his calculator and his brain cells as to which will burn out first.

Donations and Bequests

Donations to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation, either through the PayPal button on the web site home page, or through, are always appreciated. Also, anyone interested in leaving a bequest to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation is encouraged to contact the Foundation Secretary at


Note: Correspondents' letters may be edited. To give our readers some idea of the areas of the world covered by the Web Site and the Newsletter please include your name and country/state/region. If you are tempted, as I would be, to say you are in a blizzard-swept tent in Antarctica when you are really eating crumpets by the fire in your apartment in East Cheam, remember that I will hunt you down like a dog when I find out.

of SWITZERLAND writes:

Dear Shutists,

Just today I went to have a look on the NS site, which I haven't done for quite a while, and still, of course it is excellent. I do not like the picture of Nevil. I rather preferred the one that was before. Why did you change ? Am I the only one to have this opinion ? I would be also very happy to know a place where I could buy them in French. I have them in English, a few titles in French (the most common, I guess) and whenever I found one I buy it but maybe, somebody knows a place, an editor ?, who could help me having them?

Thanks anyway and best greetings.

Editor's Comment:
As you saw in her report, Steph Gallagher, assisted by Dan Telfair, is currently creating a Translations section for the website's Bibliography section. Stephanie is seeking information on every available translation. Dan writes "We now have some pretty good lists for Spanish, Dutch, and Italian, but nothing in French.  I know that a number of titles have been translated into French, but we have not yet begun a search for them."

As Michel says he already has some editions in French I suggest he contact Steph at: Steph and Dan now need interested members help to create this valuable resource. This section will be valuable not only to non-English-speaking and multilingual Shutists but also to those wishing to learn a foreign language using Nevil Shute as a text. As for the picture on the website, Steph and Jack have already responded with a set of 4 images which change each day.

My favourite photo of Shute is that of the excited young airship engineer in the navigator's cockpit of R100 to be found in the Photo Album in the Biography section. There are many images of Shute in the Photo Album but there are still more out there. Please forward to me any new Shute-related photos you find with the details of where you found them.



I have been collecting Nevil Shute books for several years. I was just fortunate enough to obtain a set of hardcovers and am now trying to determine what novels I don't have. I have 23 in total. Is there anywhere I can look for a complete list of his works?

Thank you.

Editor's Comment:
I directed John to our Bibliography Page: where all of Shute's novels and a list of Shute-related publications and documents are listed.



I was wondering do you have the movie The Pied Piper on film? Or where I can get a copy of the film? The movie was made 1942 by Fox with actors Anne Baxter and Monte Woolly also Roddy Mc Dowell. My grandmother desperately wants the film.. She's a huge fan!!

Editor's Comment:
I replied that although the video of Pied Piper is not available for sale commercially, we could lend her a video copy through our fabulous Lending Library. I refer everyone to our website Filmography and Lending Library.

of Seattle writes:

I have been a fan of Nevil Shute since my mother lent me her favorite book, "The Legacy", when I was a young girl. I just stumbled upon this website by accident tonight and having just finished my favorite book, "In the Wet", I am extremely delighted to know this site exists! Your interesting exploits on behalf of searching for locations to tie to some of Mr. Shutes book were well worth my time!  To think I almost went to the movies tonight by myself when this was waiting for me...What fun!  I'll keep checking out this site from time to time and maybe some day I'll catch a "gathering".  I do so love the books...
Editor's Comment:
I thanked Kathleen for her enthusiastic praise of our website. It sounds like she will enjoy the Shute Tourism section when it gets going.

from Sand Springs, Oklahoma writes:

I would like to be added to your newsletter mailing list. Thanks. Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors and has been since my high school years (1958-1961).
Editor's Comment:
I welcomed Jim and was particularly pleased by the quote at the bottom of his email.
"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them." -  Mark Twain
Jim then wrote back asking:
"What was the name of the novel that Shute wrote about an interracial couple - the man was a pilot for an airline.  I read it in high school but cannot recall the title."
Editor's Comment:
I referred Jim to our very useful Thumbnail page in the Bibliography section that was created by Mike D. Weum. I pointed out that he could be thinking of The Chequer Board 1947, Round the Bend 1951 or In the Wet 1953 as all three involve pilots and the subject of inter-racial marriages.

Jim replied that he now realized the book he studied was In The Wet.

in Louisiana, USA writes:

Hi, There.

I've really enjoyed the newsletters.  Thanks so much for all the hard work.  I'm writing to inquire where I might be able to find the unpublished short stories.  It seems to me that they ought to be published because many would still buy them.  Any ideas about how I could get these stories?

Dan Telfair replied:
The short stories are available in manuscript form, through the Lending Library page on the web site: Nevil Shute Norway Foundation Home Page.  On the Lending Library page, there is a list of manuscripts that are available, including the short stories.  Once you decide what you want, just contact the Librarian, Ed Yess, at  There is a hyperlink to his e-address on the LendinLibrary page. The only cost to you is postage.

As you may be aware, we did publish The Seafarers, one of Nevil's previously unpublished manuscripts, last year.  I have read through the remaining manuscripts and really do not believe any of them would be publishable.  I would be interested in your comments in that regard.

Why have you no buying capacity ? I need 10 copies of "On The Beach".
Editor's Comment:
I explained to Kenny that, although we operate a Library we don't sell books. However, our Resources Section lists many Shute-friendly booksellers. I suggested he try the House of Stratus  which offers substantial discounts to our members. Luckily, On The Beach, is a popular and easily found title.

of the UK writes:

I'm a big Shute fan, just seen your site. You may want to add the details from the 1901 census which has the family at Ealing (see ) and search for Nevil Norway. A small sum has to be paid to see the household. You may also be interested in Shute's patents. He seems to have had three. They are GB281041, GB551880 and GB483583. They can be found by entering those numbers in the "View a patent application" box on the free site. An example is which dates from 1926 (click on the blue link when you get to the page).
Editor's Comment:
It was a stroke of genius on Steve's part to look for Shute in the Patents Office. It is a great piece of research. I chased up the patent numbers and found the following details. The 1st patent was applied for on September 17,1926 and is titled "Improvements in or relating to Airships". It is about structural design of airships. The patent is claimed by Sir Denniston(sic) Burney, Barnes Wallis, Nevil Shute Norway and John Edwin Temple.

The 2nd patent was applied for on October 04 1936 and is titled "Improvements in or relating to Indicating or Recording Instruments for use on Aircraft". It is for an instrument to measure air density to get the best possible performance out of an aircraft. The patent is claimed by Airspeed 1934 Ltd.

The 3rd patent was applied for on December 04 1939 and is titled "Improvements in or relating to Observing or Sighting Devices". It is a design that relates to bomb sights. The patent is claimed by Sir Dennistoun Burney, Nevil Shute Norway, Rolf Edmund Spencer, Arthur Henry Cooper and Henry Edward Gauss. I wanted to access the Census material too but haven't yet had time. Any volunteers ? The 1901 Census covers, among other things: House Address, names, ages and relationship of the inhabitants, professions or occupations, where born and whether people were lunatic, imbecile or feeble-minded. (I'm glad I wasn't living there when they called) Sadly there isn't anything like incomes or whether anyone was having an affair or if they liked cherry cake or what they thought their boy Nevil would be when he grew up.

of Maryland USA writes:

And here I thought I was the only fan of Nevil Shute (Norway)!!!  Please send me the newsletter.  I would greatly appreciate it.  I have been reading his novels for half a century and enjoyed every one.
Editor's Note:
I welcomed Frank to our newsletter. It is extraordinary how Shutists are spread evenly throughout the world and how, before they find the website, they all believe they are the only ones who love the work of Nevil Shute. Perhaps, in some remote and picturesque valley in the Himalayas, there is a whole village of Shute fans where Shute is read and reverred publicly all year round and only those who don't like Shute feel isolated and alone. I suspect this place is called Shute-i La. This is not unlikely as James Hilton, who wrote Lost Horizon was also a great fan of Nevil Shute.

of the UK writes:

Hi, I have signed up to where I get emailed everyday as to new Nevil Shute additions on a daily basis. This is a good way to pick up new books. In fact somebody is selling the complete hardback set of books.
Editor's Comment:
This sounds like a great tip. The Resources section of the website lists many sellers of new and second hand Nevil Shute books and videos.


Dear friends,

I've read some information about Shute's italian book, "Le due frontiere". The title is the translation for the novel "Beyond the Black stump". The info about the first edition of this book are Le due frontiere, published by Sugar Editore, Milano - february, 1959. If you're interested I've this book and I can send you a front's JPG.

Sorry for my poor English.

Shutists Chris and Penny Morton, who gave a fascinating talk on their Connie Shak Lin approach to building their boat "An Old Captivity" at Oz 2001, have moved to Tasmania, Australia where they are now researching the background of The Rainbow and The Rose, which was set in that state. Chris believes that he has found the real place on which Shute based the location of the Tin Miners whose sick child Johnnie Pascoe and Ronnie Clarke were trying to save. I quote here part of a letter from Chris to Dan Telfair and myself:
"The subject of the book has to be the model for the people and the place which Johnny Pascoe (and Ronnie) were trying to reach. There is no doubt in my mind after reading that NS visited the family at least once, and later in the book reference is made to a visit by "novelist Nevil Shute's wife and
companion". The location of their homestead, their way of life, the small grass strip (since superseded) and its proximity to the Lewis River, and within reach of the town we think was probably Buxton, descriptions of the terrain, the weather etc all fit.  It has to be!!"

The book is "King of the Wilderness" author Christobel Mattingley, isbn 1 876485 87 6, publisher The Text Publishing Company, 171 La Trobe Street Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia."
Editor's comment:
This is the sort of information that I hope to collect and collate in my proposed Shute Tourism page. The great thing about doing Nevil Shute research is that people think you are studious and hard working when all you are doing is having fun. This reminds me that in the 1980s there was a cult figure in Sydney that was the stencilled image of a 12-year-old boy from the suburbs who was the mythical leader of a non-existent religious cult dedicated to having fun. The boy was called "Guru Adrian" and his motto was "Having Fun Is Half The Fun".

I think it is not sufficiently remarked that throughout the works of Nevil Shute, there is a constant exhortation to the reader to do things that are fun. Fun can be work and work ideally should be fun.

That completes this month's newsletter.

I live in the very beautiful city of Sydney, Australia, which was once described by a delayed, frustrated and Customs-infuriated Nevil Shute as "An Ugly Town, Full Of Drunks" or AUTFOD.

All the best from AUTFOD
Richard Michalak
Nevil Shute Norway Foundation Historian and Newsletter Editor
Please write to:

Nevil Shute Norway