Book Review

2003-11/November 1, 2003

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1. Once again, the Newsletter is being distributed by Dan Telfair due to gremlins who insist on playing havoc in Richard Michalak's computer. Rest assured though that the following offering flows directly from the pen/keyboard of The Mad Australian.

2. Buried deep within this months Newsletter is an unhappy announcement that Ed Yess has had to give up his responsibilities as Foundation Librarian. We need another Librarian desperately and ASAP. If interested, please contact the Foundation Secretary at

3. The NSN Foundation does not send e-mail with attachments. Newsletters are only sent as e-mail text. If you get an email, apparently from us, with an attachment, then it IS a VIRUS. With some servers, the newsletter may be truncated. In that case the entire text of all newsletters can be read on our Newsletter Page.


The response to my first newsletter as editor has been quite amazing. I was amazed that since it came out we initially had many fewer letters than usual. To preserve my dignity I assumed that this is because my first newsletter was so completely satisfying that everyone's questions have been answered and readers were too amazed to write. Fortunately more very interesting letters arrived later and this month we have more news and research items. When we do get mail, most of our correspondents comment on our excellent website. At its heart is Ultra Fast who generously provide us with space on their server. Ultra Fast is an Australian based company providing Domain Names and Website Hosting. Please consider them if you are requiring these services.


Nevil Shute Book Collection Sale

Colin Ackehurst is offering his large collection of Nevil Shute's books for sale. The listing is at present being exclusively offered to the NSN Foundation and it's members. Books can be sold singly but offers will also be considered for the collection as a whole. Included is a very rare and valuable "Very Good" quality first edition of So Disdained, Shute's 2nd published novel. Also on offer are many other firsts in "Very Good" condition.

Please contact for complete book list and prices.


Was J. Pascoe really H. Worrall ?

Edwina Kastner has been in correspondence with me for some time. "Aaah !" I hear you say sagely, yet non-commitally, as you sit on your rocker on the front porch smoking your corn cob pipe, rubbing your chin and silently wondering who Edwina is. "Well", I continue, "Edwina Kastner is researching her grand uncle who was Harry Worrall." "Aaah !" I hear you say sagely again, wondering "who in the Gosh Durned Tarnation is Harry Worrall ?" (sorry to confuse you but in this dialogue I have cast you as a hillbilly so you often use expressions like "Tarnation" and "Lawks-a- Mercy")

If you have read The Rainbow and The Rose you already know what sort of man Harry Worrall was, as, even if the novel is not exactly a biography of Harry, it was certainly heavily influenced by Harry's character and life and, I believe, it was spurred to be written by Harry's death. Shute first met Harry when Shute, as club secretary, engaged Harry to run and instruct at the Yorkshire Aero Club in 1929. Shute then admired Harry for the rest of Harry's life. Harry visited Shute in Melbourne in 1957 and died in Sydney shortly after. Within weeks of Harry's death, Shute had begun writing The Rainbow and The Rose which followed the life paths of an aviator very like Harry and borrowed some characters and situations from Harry's life. Soon, based on Edwina's wonderful and tireless research, I hope to create a Harry Worrall page on the website to honour Shute's archetypal pilot.

DMWD at the PRO (now the NA)

John Anderson, who exhibits no visible or audible hillbilly traits, has written to me regarding his DMWD work at the PRO. We moody and slightly unstable newsletter editors love using confusing acronyms on our readers but in this case I will relent and remind you that DMWD means Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development and PRO means the Public Records Office at Kew in London. The 5 readers I know we still have left after the last newsletter will remember that John is researching Shute's war work. Here is John's initial report.

"For the last 3 days Andy Burgess and I have been researching the records at the National Archives (the new name for the Public Record Office) and going through the files from the DMWD. The files are in fact a series of Technical Histories of the DMWD covering all the major projects that DMWD undertook during the War and they were put together as bound volumes at the end of the war when the DMWD was disbanded, the purpose being to record the details of each project for future reference. So they are not the original office files one might have expected with odd notes, memos, calculations, etc. If we were looking for hand written notes by Nevil we would have been disappointed. Quite possibly the original documents were destroyed after these Technical Histories were compiled. However the files do contain very detailed technical coverage of the significant projects and, helpfully, most list the members of DMWD involved in various projects. There is a good deal of material including summaries, minutes of meetings, test reports photographs, and, where appropriate, scientific reports. Anyone who has read Gerald Pawle's "Secret War" would be familiar with the projects - these Technical Histories gave a wealth of added detail. For example, the history on flame throwers gives details of the types tested, the fuels used (no reference to "Worcester sauce") together with photographs of the trials. Shute is not listed as one of the DMWD officers involved directly in flamethrower development but he is listed for "Beach obstacle demolition" (Panjandrum), "Acoustic Warning Devices", "Gliders" and "Fresh Water stills" (initiated by Shute off his own bat)

What we learned was that for the latter part of 1943 and the first part of 1944 much of Shute's time was taken up with Panjandrum and the Swallow glider project (the many flight trials for the latter being carried out at Lepe on the mouth of the Bealieu River from a converted LCT). A more detailed report must await another time (and place?) but we reckon we have covered the salient parts of these Technical histories, at any rate those with a Shute involvement..

The National Archives is a new, spacious and airy building, more like the Corporate headquarters of a large company. The service is friendly, helpful and very efficient (documents arrive within 30 minutes of ordering). The on line searching and ordering facility is excellent and as Andy commented, searching the records could become quite addictive. For example Andy became immersed in the records for the R101 airship and we were both somewhat reluctant to break off and go back to our day jobs.!" Later John wrote an update saying:

However there is further research to be done! ..... there are records from the Projectile Development Establishment (PDE) for 1940-45 regarding rocket launchers and also from the Petroleum Warfare Department regarding flame throwers. The PDE at Aberporth in Pembrokeshire is where Shute and Goodeve visited for meetings on rockets and launchers. I can give some dates when Shute attended tests of the Swallow glider at Lepe Hard on the Beaulieu (late 1943-1944). .... The original concept for the Swallow glider was put forward by none other than Barnes Wallis. I did look at the file on this (not in the DMWD Histories) and this does contain original papers and notes with memos signed by N.S.Norway!

Finally I tried to locate Shute's RNVR Service Record whilst we were at the National Archives. It would be useful to have his precise dates of service etc. But the records for RNVR officers from the Second World War have not been released to the National Archives. Their helpful staff gave me an address to write to for further help, so I will write to them.

Who said this research could become quite addictive? I think there is quite a lot more to find out and I will definitely be visiting the National Archives again."

Editor's Note: Readers may already know that The Swallow Glider project was, as I recall, an automatic, clockwork controlled, smoke-laying glider to be used on the invasion beaches. The Freshwater Stills were petrol-powered stills for desalinating seawater for lifeboats. The idea was that instead of having, for example, one gallon of drinking water stored on a lifeboat, if you stored one gallon of petrol and the still you could produce 12 gallons of drinking water.

John Anderson and Andy Burgess have done a terrific job and well deserve our praise and the Special Research Award Vegemite Sandwiches I have posted them by sea mail. These are just like a Nobel Prize only not quite as good.

Petrol Flare Up

Steve Van Dulken, who came up with last month's Shute Patent Office discoveries has not exhausted himself yet. This time he has discovered quite a file of Shute Correspondence and has written: "I've just had my first look at the Shute correspondence in the Society of Authors material at our Dept of Manuscripts, about 100 pages from him, various officials, one publisher (Cassell) or the Society itself. It includes:

Correspondence on the contract for Marazan; apparently Cassells at first refused to abide by the changes that Shute wanted in the contract but once he secured literary agents they negotiated the same contract with no liability for Shute re libel.

Lots of info about trying to get a bigger petrol allowance for his car, 1950-51 (The UK maintained wartime petrol and food rationing until the early 1950s) and implying that due to the Regional Petroleum Officer he emigrated to Australia. Lots of information about his dollar earnings as he points out that he was earning lots for the Treasury: US $277,000 between 1939 and 1948, apparently, from books and film rights.

Refers to Blyth being the setting for Ruined City and that he probably motored 2,000 miles doing research for it, and that he would like to do another book about the North of England. In a copy of a 27 Jan 1950 letter to the same Officer he threatens to "leave immediately and take up my residence in another part of the world".

Lots of info about entertaining people from the Persian Gulf, Siam and Australia who supply information which he can use in his books, and going to libraries in Portsmouth once a week to do research. He wanted the allowance sufficient for 100 miles of driving weekly to be doubled. They did increase it, but only from 20 to 33 gallons, not the 40 he asked for.

Complains of getting only 150 for serial rights to A Town like Alice in Australian Women's Weekly. Wants to get a branch of the Society set up. He says in one letter (15 April 1950, to the Society of Authors) that he'd "prefer to up sticks and try it in Australia for a bit. Taxation is less there, cost of living lower, it is nearer to South East Asia where things are happening, and no author with an international public has worked from there for some time. I reckon I can get three good books out there which will take me five years to find and write". Once in Australia he refers to it as an "exceedingly attractive country" ! "

Steve also notes that:

"the CD-ROM index to the (London) Times has quite a lot including letter about him after his death, the sale of his typewriter and so on."

The intense detail and source of Steve's research was new to us and we were thrilled to receive it. We are now coordinating to make copies and collate the information. Any volunteers for research work, particularly in the UK, should contact Steph Gallagher or me.

Young Shute In Love

I have proclaimed October "Shute Correspondence Month" as, even though hardly anybody wrote to me (sniff). Norman Pasley has discovered yet more Shute correspondence at Portsmouth Library. The personal letters to Flora Twort written just after he had proposed to her are very revealing of Shute's emotions and attitudes to life and marriage.

Eventually, when all the letters have been sorted and cleared, we may consider putting some appropriate extracts of this personal correspondence and some of his fiery petrol correspondence on the website.

Mower Mystery

Because, as a teenager, I once walked miles and miles behind a Scott Bonnar self-powered lawn mower, I was anxious to identify the very-Scott-Bonnar-looking lawnmower in the website photo from around 1945. The picture shows Shute riding his much-loved lawn mower at Pond Head.

I have found a lawn mower identification expert and he has been on the case. I am not sure what sounds more bizarre: that I should want to identify the make of an old lawnmower, or that I should be able to find an old lawnmower identification expert.

Shute loved riding on these machines and you can see the small leap he made from the 2 photo album shots of him, full of glee, on the ride-on mowers in England and Australia to his purchase of his new 3.442 liter, 130 plus mph, Jaguar XK140 Special Equipment roadster. Shute would have loved that now, in the USA at least, people race souped-up ride-on mowers and I believe at least one man has ridden one across the country.

My internet search for information on Scott Bonnar mowers also led me to a man named Scott Bonnar who pedalled a high-tech pedal boat across the English Channel. Sadly it was not, as I had hoped, shaped like a giant swan. My mower expert, of Turf Machinery Services in Ballarat, Australia, has reported that he believes the mower was made by Scott Bonnar. I wonder if the Scott Bonnar mower company make a ride-on lawn mower in the shape of a giant swan ?


In response to the article about the 1901 Census, of Cornwall in the UK has written to me with this summary of the 1901 Census information on the inhabitants of 16 Somerset Rd, Ealing, Middlesex:

Arthur Hamilton Norway, (head), age 41, Clerk Civil Service Grade 1, Born Cornwall, Egloshayle
Mary L Norway (wife) age 39, Born India
Frederick H Norway (son) age 5, Born Middlesex, Ealing
Nevil S Norway (son) age 2, Born Middlesex, Ealing
Anne J Norway (aunt) age 66, Born Cornwall, Egloshayle
+ 2 female domestic servants aged 18 & 20
I want to thank Bruce for his interest and sharing his information.

The census takers of 1901 were obviously quite dull and unobservant as Bruce's report seems to confirm that the words "baby of family seems destined to be a famous novelist" are absent from the document. Nor was the child reported to have gurgled "must have retractable undercarriage". I have now worn out my Census jokes and will leave them alone ..... unless I think of any more.


The New Forest

John Anderson has responded to my call for Shute tourism stories and suggests visiting Exbury House as we did during UK2003 (and what a fabulous day that was!) then motor on through the New Forest to Lymington. From here you can take a short sea ferry ride across the Solent to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Yarmouth is a delightful little harbour where the Corbetts moored up and hasn't changed a great deal since Shute's time. Take a walk round the harbour and finish up at the Bugle Inn for a restorative drink or meal. On the ferry back you will see Keyhaven and Hurst Castle on the left (Requiem for a Wren). You can mooch round Lymington and its harbour (where Tom Cutter saw his ideal garage in Round the Bend).

Shute-Favoured Art in Bali

Anyone off to Bali should know that of the UK recently wrote to Dan Telfair about art in Bali and referred Dan to this website that shows the art of Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpros. (Belgium 1880-1958). The text below refers to a work of the artist for auction and then to Shute's visit to this famous artist's studio in Bali.

Four Balinese girls resting in the jungle signed J. Le Mayuer (lower left) oil on canvas 30 x 35in. (75.5 x 90cm.) During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the owner felt that is wiser to convert his wealth to fine art and jewelry and the present lot could be purchased during that time or very shortly after the war.

Many visitors have visited the house in Sanur, which was the artist's residence, studio as well as guest-house. The house has left such a deep impression on the novelist Nevil Shute that he wrote an extensive description of it in his novel, Round the Bend.

"We went once or twice to a place on the other side of the strip called Sanoer, where a Belgian artist was married to a very fine Balinese woman. I think that was the most beautiful house I have ever been in, the walls covered with paintings of the Balinese and their way of life, and full of Balinese young men and women so that it was difficult to say from memory which of the scenes remembered from that house were real ones and which were painted."

You can see some examples of this artist's work on the above website.

You can see photos of what I believe are the interior of Le Mayuer's house at on a page called Manfred's Travel Pictures. Go to the Asian section, then Bali, then Sanur. and scroll down to about the middle of the page.

Sharples was Blyth

As Steve Van Dulken has discovered, Blyth near Newcastle in the UK was the basis for the town of Sharples in Ruined City. Anyone wishing to do a bit of background research on Blyth / Sharples is encouraged to do so and report back.

Please write in with any trip that you have done or that you would like to do and I will collate the ideas. Eventually you will be able to enliven that boring world trip your spouse insists on with fascinating side trips to Shute locations. Your spouse will love you when you take her to see the dirty old abandoned Airspeed bus garage in York, England. She will be equally moved by the dusty shack that was Billy Slim's in The Far Country or the very same stretch of road (well, replaced a few times since) in Bourke St in Melbourne Australia where John Osbourne hit 85mph in his racing car in On The Beach.

If the Shutists who followed the travels described in Pied Piper and wrote of it to Dan a couple of years ago would like to write to me, I would love to record their details as doing that trip could just possibly force me to travel to France again.


Website Updates

Dear Friends:

There have been several background changes to the website this month. Most of which you probably will not notice, however some particular changes you might be interested in include the contacts page. It has been lengthened to contain direct contacts for various areas of the site. Therefore you can be assured that any e-mail you submit will go directly to the person responsible for that area of activity. You can also make our site your home page by clicking on the appropriate button on the main page of the website.

On the site we are constantly adding information that has been supplied and/or requested by you all. One area of activity that is being expanded is details of NS titles in languages other than English. Thank you to those of you who have already contacted the foundation with information and please do keep sending information in. If anyone out there would be interested in researching this area on behalf of the foundation, please contact Steph Gallagher directly. We are always on the lookout for willing volunteers.

In the same vein, if you are aware of a bookshop or website that has a particular affinity to Nevil Shute titles, please also share this information with us. For instance, our own Webmaster Jack Calaway has informed me of a bookshop in the USA. He writes: "On several occasions I've stopped by Roberts Book Shop, in Lincoln City, OR (3412 S. E. Highway 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367, 541-994-4453). They are NSN fan's and seem always to have a great stock of his books." If you know of similar bookstores, let us know and we will add them to the relevant section of the website.

Editor's Comment: I have a favorite secondhand bookshop at Lakes Entrance about 90 minutes drive north of Sydney. It is called Richard's Bookshop at 130a The Entrance Rd, The Entrance NSW 2261 Australia. +61(2) 432-2743 (no email) They have many very cheap Shutes and occasionally get first editions.
Steph Continues: Please note that the website has been created exclusively for and by admirers of the work of Nevil Shute Norway. If you would like to see any changes to the site, please contact Steph Gallagher, the website manager directly at
Books on Tape

The UK branch of the Foundation Library is purchasing a set of NS titles on tape. Details of these and other UK titles will be added to the website as they become available. If you have any items, books, manuscripts, etc, 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 as follows: Rev John Wilcox, 5 Duncan Avenue, REDCAR, TS10 5BX, UK.

The Big Read

Some of you may remember way back in May we encouraged you to vote for Nevil Shute titles in the BBC's BIG READ competition. Basically, the BBC is running a competition to try to find the most popular novel of the British Public of all time. Whilst A Town Like Alice easily made it into the top 100, sadly it has not reached the second round which has dwindled the top 100 down to just 21 titles. However Nevil Shute did not do badly either, coming a very respectable 37th! Hence A Town Like Alice is the 37th most popular title of all time in the UK. Quite an achievement. If you are interested in knowing the order of the top 100, as well as which 21 titles have made it to the second round, log onto


Library News

I regret to announce that illness in his family has forced our Librarian, Ed Yess, to give up his duties and turn the Library over to someone else. He will try to continue until we can find a replacement, but that needs to be as soon as possible. The Foundation Librarian is responsible for maintaining the library holdings consisting of books, books on tape. videos, manuscripts and allied materials; responding to borrower requests by mailing out requested materials; keeping track of materials that are out and receipt of materials that are returned; replacing items as needed, and keeping an informal set of records to show expenditures, income, etc. Funds are provided to initially run the Library, after which it is largely self-supporting. However, if additional funds are needed, they are provided by the Foundation. Based on experience to date, the Librarian can expect to devote four to six hours a week to his or her duties.

Anyone interested in applying for the position of Foundation Librarian, please contact the Foundation Secretary at

Our thanks and sympathy go out to Ed and his family.


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

We promise to keep your planned bequest secret in case public-spirited but less morally burdened Shutists are tempted to hasten you off this mortal coil so the Foundation can get the money more promptly.


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 the UK writes:

I am an Anthropology student at University College London currently in the process of researching for my thesis in the field of book collecting and book collectors (fiction). My research project is primarily concerned with the meanings attached to books through their possession within individual collections. I wonder if it would be possible for any of your members who may collect fiction to fill out a short questionnaire on the subject. Any assistance with this it would be greatly appreciated. I am contactable through either of the following email addresses:

Editor's Comment: This sounds very interesting to me. Many Shutists, who by definition are attracted to a high moral attitude, might still be tempted to act questionably by the prospect of owning a signed, mint condition first edition of Marazan. These complex feelings may reflect the sort of emotional attachment to books that Keith is trying to understand.

Graham Armstrong of The Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia writes:

I would like you to know that for the past twenty years I have been an avid fan of Nevil Shute. I have been searching the second hand bookstalls for his books for a long time (I have most of them). Today I was searching the web for Caustic Soda, would you believe, and one of the links was to this site. Only this morning I said that I should search for Nevil Shute on the web, now I do not have to do that.

I left UK in 1976 and spent 20 years in South Africa before migrating to Australia. A lot of the reason for moving to Australia was due to the love of the country that Nevil Shute had. By the way, in his autobiography he stated, while sipping a Pernot in the Pyrenees, that there are two types of people in business: the starters and the continuers (to that effect). He said he was a starter and he realized that he was bored with Air Speed because it was the same each day. I have related this to many people when they are unsure of why they are tired of what they are doing and it has been of tremendous help to them.

Editor's Comment: Annoyingly, I have misplaced Graham's email address so I can't post it on his letter. Shute-related, almost psychic, coincidences like Graham's thinking of Shute and then finding him accidentally via an unrelated search for Caustic Soda are constantly occurring. Maybe it is Mr Honey from No Highway secretly at work again with Elspeth at the planchette or ouija board while Marjorie is out getting another dish-mop at Woolworth's.



Please could you advise me of the availability of loaning Pied Piper on video.

Editor's Comment: I directed Chris to the Library section of our website. Unfortunately only lower quality copies of Pied Piper and Crossing to Freedom, which is also based on Pied Piper, are currently available. Anyone coming across a good quality video copy should contact the Library section immediately.

of Osterville, Massachusetts writes:

I wrote the following letter to the Cape Cod Times:

Nevil Shute, the author of the novel On the Beach, wrote two books about Cape Cod. One was a novel about a pilot who landed his seaplane in the Cotuit Bay area. Another was a screenplay about Leif Erickson exploring Cape Cod. He even suggested that filming take place here because of its scenic beauty. The descriptions of the scenes make a convincing argument that Shute visited Cape Cod. In 1939 he came to New York to tout another of his books, and it is believed he came to the Cape to gather information for the above-mentioned books.

No record can be found of his visit but I am hoping someone is still alive who remembers. I am extremely interested in knowing because I am the president of the Cape Cod Chapter of the Nevil Shute Society.

The paper's response was:

Although the Hyannis Public Library reference librarian searched many sources, including the National Library of Australia in Canberra where Nevil Shute's manuscripts are stored, she found nothing directly relating to a Cape Cod visit. There may be a chance that someone remembers the visit and will contact us. If so, We'll keep you posted.

I'm hoping to hear from someone.

Editor's Comment: I hope Art is eventually successful. So many Shute connections have come to light in the last couple of years that I don't doubt we will soon discover a definite Cape Cod - Shute connection.

Art Cornell's past research has made him famous within Shute-dom. Quite amazingly Art discovered the very stone that Haki and Hekja carved their names on in 1000 AD sitting on the bench of his own workshop in Cape Cod. It now resides on his front porch and has been photographed by British tourists.

Inspired by Art's research, when visiting Malaysia I was able to find and photograph the names written in a heart, "Jean Paget Loves Joe Harman", that a pining Jean Paget had drawn in the sand on a beach north of Kuantan in 1945. Sadly for people wishing to visit the site, I got the photo just seconds before the sea washed it away.

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