Book Review

2004-3/March 1, 2004

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Model-making Shutists may like to know that the Russian firm of Maquette makes a 1/500 scale model kit of the R-100, complete with cardboard base and mooring stand. In the States it's available from Squadron Mail Order for US$ 19.97 plus shipping (stock # MQ05000). Squadron does an extensive international business, but model shops elsewhere (e.g., Hannants in the UK) very likely would have the kit, or could obtain it. Montreal in 2005? I'm all for it!

of The UK writes:
Australia's dream of a passenger train crossing its unforgiving "Red Centre" is finally being realised.

The Ghan received an enthusiastic send-off. This is a journey like no other. It begins a few kilometres from the Southern Ocean and ends in the tropics. In between the track carves through sandy coastal scrubland, the desert salt lakes and into the green suburbs of Alice Springs before arriving in the lush tropics.

The railroad linking the central desert town of Alice Springs to Adelaide was completed in 1929. The stretch north to Darwin was finished last September.

Editor's Comment: Some suggest that we Australians rarely finish what we started. I can now reveal that we were just having a 75-year tea break between building the first and the second sections.

of Sand Springs, Oklahoma The USA writes:
I have noticed some common interests among the newsletter Q&A'rs. I am a Pilot with a Commercial ticket and an Instrument Rating. I have a strong interest in the history of WWII, aircraft of that period, people of that period, rifles of that era, evolution of weapons and weapons systems of that period, the Battle of Britain, etc. Any other Shutists with similar interests? I'm from Oklahoma and was born in 1943 in Texas and was introduced to Nevil Shute by my high school literature teacher, Doris N. Taylor when she did a brief book review of "On The Beach." A truly fascinating and sad story. One of the scenes in that film has had a long lasting profound spiritual effect on me and was used as the topic for a sermon in April 1960, i.e., the street scene with the banner stating, "There is still time brother!"

PS - I recently discovered my British roots while doing some genealogy work. You mentioned flogging or execution (of the Doom Virus makers). I would offer the flogging followed by an execution!

of Basco, Illinois, The USA writes:
Did Nevil Shute know Eric Hiscock ? I like the books of Nevil Shute and have collected and read all of them.

Another of my favorite authors, Eric Hiscock, seems to be the source for details of the disastrous sea voyage of John and Joanna Dermott in "Trustee from the Toolroom."

Eric Hiscock was an avid sailor from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, near where Nevil Shute kept his yacht. He and his wife Susan sailed around the world in 1953-1955 and wrote an excellent book about the trip. Does anyone have any correspondence between the two authors ?

Most of us who like the writing of Nevil Shute would also like "Around the World in Wanderer III" by Eric Hiscock. He was some twenty years younger than Shute and seems to have much the same belief in the value of work and the patience to see it done right. He had the same interest in the lives of people in remote regions of the world.

The disastrous voyage of the cutter Shearwater in "Trustee from the Toolroom" has many parallels with Chapter 9 of Eric Hiscock's "Around the World . . . " Both start across the Pacific in a sailing yacht after a long wait for permission to call at the Galapagos for water. Both encounter a tropical hurricane in the South Pacific. Both trailed a sea anchor from the stern to keep the ship's stern into the great waves of the hurricane. Both suffered a failure of the sea anchor. Both married couples were people of great courage.

Any fan of Nevil Shute will be likely to enjoy the books of Eric Hiscock, especially "Around the World . . ."

Editor's comment: At the moment I have heard of no communication between Shute and Hiscock but we have very few resources regarding Shute's correspondence. We do know that in 1959 Shute wrote a foreword to Miles and Beryl Smeeton's story of their yachts repeated capsizing and dismasting. Shute claimed that this story was the main inspiration for Trustee From The Toolroom. Shute may well have used some of Hiscocks experiences as inspiration as he clearly had a good memory and collected facts and events and experiences for future use. Shute was an experienced yachtsman. Eric Hiscock was born in 1908 in Southhampton. He bought his first boat in 1934. In 1941 he married and his wife, Susan, thereafter crewed for him. In later years they were based in New Zealand. Eric Hiscock died in 1986.

David Dawson-Taylor writes:
With reference to the email from John Binch about Marazan, Marazion is a town on the mainland of Cornwall, a few miles from Penzance. NSN may have used this name and corrupted it to make Marazan, but as far as I know there is no such place with that name.

I have a 1" OS map (number 203) which includes details of the Scilly Isles, and though there is a "White Island" in the northernmost part of the islands, there doesn't appear to be a "Pendruan Island" as mentioned and as drawn in the book, nor does the layout correspond. I guess NSN used poetic (? writer's) licence.

If you go to the following address:- tl=Hugh+Town,+Isles+of+Scilly+[City/Town/Village]&searchp=newsearch.srf&mapp =newmap.srf

you will find the Scilly Isles as above. Incidentally, there is a v. small hamlet called "Marazanvose" which is just off the A30 about 7 miles south of Newquay in Cornwall.

Editor's Comment: If you compare the map of Marazan Sound in the book Marazan to the real map you will see that not only has Shute added the Island Pendruan, but he has also moved either White Island or The Eastern Isles which are now adjacent to Marazan. In reality they are separated by St Martins.

of Roseville, Minnesota, USA writes
For the last decade I have been seeking a CD of the 1959 "On the Beach" movie soundtrack. In early January 2004 I bought a stereo version of the LP. My intention was to somehow copy the LP to computer and burn a CD, but two weeks after buying the LP I found that this will be unnecessary: THERE ALREADY IS A CD. Unbeknownst to me, in 2002 a magazine called Film Score Monthly issued a CD containing the full soundtracks of "On the Beach". Film Score Monthly's CD is extremely rare: "This Pressing Is Limited to 3,000 Copies." and don't know anything about it. The good news is that, if you go to Film Score Monthly's website, you'll find the organization's online store -- "On the Beach" is under the heading "Golden Age Classics." It's $19.95 plus shipping, which is $3 in the U.S. On Feb. 7, 2004, I was able to order a copy. I have no idea what portion of the 3,000 copies still might be available, but Shutist music-lovers will want to go to without delay.

of Victoria, Australia writes:
Thank you for your excellent website, which I come back to frequently. I was recently looking through the filmography and think I may have identified an omission.

My introduction to the works of Nevil Shute was in 1972 or 1973, when I was 13/14 years old. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) television showed a dramatisation of "The Far Country". I think it was a serial, but I cannot recall any of the names of the actors who appeared in it. After seeing the program, I borrowed the book from my school library; it was the first Nevil Shute book that I ever read. I wonder if there are any other Australian readers who can recall this film.

On another note, I have been upgrading my Nevil Shute collection from paperback to hardback in the last year or so, mainly from second hand bookshops. I now have a complete hardback set, but some are missing their dust jackets. I am seeking the assistance of another collector (I am in Melbourne, Australia) who could supply a facsimile of the missing jackets, either a quality color copy or a scan. The jackets I am looking for are for the following titles (all Heinemann editions, unless noted):
A Town like Alice - First Edition 1950 / Lonely Road - Uniform Ed 1952 / Most Secret - Uniform Ed 1951 / No Highway - Uniform Ed 1962 / Round the Bend - Uniform Ed 1961 / Vinland the Good - First (Morrow) Ed 1946.
If anyone can help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

In the process of collecting, I have managed to get some duplicates, that I am happy to pass on to others. All are in good order. The first four titles listed came to me without jackets, but now have facsimile jackets. The copy jackets are good quality color photocopies that look almost as good as the originals. The other two titles have original jackets in very good condition. The titles are:
In the Wet - First Ed 1953 / On the Beach - 1959 reprint, but same DJ as 1st Ed / Stephen Morris - First Ed 1961 / The Rainbow and the Rose - First Ed 1958 / On the Beach - 1959 Film Ed (vg original DJ) / Pied Piper - 1943 The Reprint Society Ed (vg original DJ)
If anyone can help me with the copy jackets or is interested in any of my excess editions, I can be contacted by email

The new Discussion Board is already a mine of information. Of particular interest to me were comments by Gerard Martin that he had always felt that part of the Brenda Marshall character was based on Amy Johnson. Gerard also notes that Amy Johnson met her death flying an Airspeed Oxford.

Martin Dryden writes that he thought Brenda Marshall is one of Shute's best characters, combining emotional depth with the appeal of Amy Johnson in her flying suit. (if you don't have a holtlink go to to see Amy in her flying suit)

Martin said that for him Brenda's doomed love and its inevitable conclusion never fail to give the heart-strings a tug.

Richard Laven contributes a significant account that reveals that many of Round The Bend's characters seem to have been based on real people, including one of my favourites Gujar Singh the bearded Sikh bank clerk

Please see the picture at of Amy Johnson (1903 - 1941) in her flying suit. Viewing this appealing photo it is hard not to think of Amy Johnson's similarities to her fictional contemporary Brenda Marshall in "The Rainbow and The Rose". Johnson also has short hair and looks vital and attractive in a flying suit. (though in Rainbow, Brenda wears a lightweight white overall) Like Brenda Marshall, Johnson came from a well off family, learned to fly as a young woman, bought a used deHavilland Moth, learned to fly cross country very well, had a relationship with a pilot, went through a divorce and died young while flying. Amy Johnson drowned in the Thames Estuary after parachuting from the Airspeed Oxford she was ferrying to London. She had run out of fuel. (UKSM)

recently wrote to Dan Telfair:

I am an avid reader of the novels of Nevil Shute. He has written about 24 books and one of my favorites is "Trustee From The Toolroom". It is the story of a simple, innocent man who sets out on a seemingly impossible mission - because for him, it is the right thing to do.

In another Shute book, "Ruined City" a complex, sophisticated man also sets out on a seemingly impossible task and decides to do the "wrong thing" - because for him, it is the right thing to do.

The first book I have read many times, however, it was the rereading of the second book that brought to the surface a thought about grace. In both books each man chose to pursue a certain course of action. This is the operation of free will. And, as in "real life", the company of characters in the both novels either applauded or decried the free will choices made by each man - taking unto themselves decisions which seemed to impact the "fate" of each man. Ultimately, however, the fate of each man, as well as the consequences of their actions, was "in the hands of the universe". And for each man - regardless of the correctness of their decisions as judged by man - the universe operated with equitable grace.

Dan Telfair replied: Glad you enjoyed the rereading of Ruined City. I consider it to be the first of his "mature author" books. It contained a lot of Nevil's personal philosophy and no small part of it was based on his own life and efforts. Many of the things he did to keep Airspeed afloat during the pre-war years were models for the actions of Henry Warren. Unlike Mr. Warren, Nevil avoided going to jail for some of his technical transgressions, but it was probably a close thing.

Rae Cullimore of The UK recently wrote to Steph Gallagher: I wondered if you had any information of the origins of the book "No Highway" based on RAE Farnborough. My reason is that the chief character appears to have been very similar to my father.

My father had a Cambridge honours degree in physics and chemistry. He then qualified as a solicitor and went into the family firm. He joined the army in 1914, but was seconded to the RAE. He first acted as an "observer" but then he became the administrator of a section including the old balloon shed. The section appears to have had about 40 staff. After the war (I was born 1918 and christened RAE) he left and returned to law.

My father never talked much about this. But I found amongst his papers a published (by the ministry) paper on the effect of pressure at "High Mach Numbers".

The correct title of the paper is very similar to the title of the paper that Nevil Shute's character is to read. I can remember my father telling me that "boffins" could be very eccentric. Thus my father was an "outsider" who came and went from the RAE and was rather similar to Nevil Shute's character.

Editor's Comment: It seems possible that Shute may have met or heard about Rae Cullimore's father if Mr Cullimore senior was still at the RAE when Shute was working on R100 in the mid 1920s. Alternatively Shute may have heard of Mr Cullimore if he visited the RAE as a result of his work with Airspeed in the 1930s and the DMWD in the 1940s.

John Anderson has written this response:
Like you I had always thought that Dr Scott was NSN in thin disguise. However Shute visited RAE Farnborough many times before, and certainly during, the war and he probably got to know many of the people who worked there. Also RAE were directly involved in the developments for the Swallow project - Shute's role was to plan and supervise the testing of the glider on behalf of the DMWD. At UK 2003 I mentioned Dr Griffith just to point out that the person who founded the theory of metal fatigue worked at RAE in real life, but not that he was the model for Mr. Honey. David Vaughan's theory that Shute used Barnes Wallis as the model for Mr Honey is much more plausible. Nevertheless it is worth finding out more about Mr.Cullimore senior and to see what comes up.

Denis Scott's paper was entitled "Performance analysis of aircraft flying at high Mach Numbers" - close to the title of the paper found by Mr. Cullimore.

from Germany writes:
Now after having visited your website for some times I want you to know how much I like and appreciate your work to promote Nevil Shute's books and keep his art alive for all future readers. That's great.

I'm running a site myself, focussed on the life and works of German writer Hubert Fichte, so I know there's always a lot of stuff to do. Nevil Shute ... well, I'm 31 and I can well remember having read "On The Beach" for the first time, as a result of having seen the Stanley Kramer movie on tv (that's the general pattern, isn't it?). I guess the name Nevil Shute won't ring a bell amongst my friends, but this movie will somehow, still. I read the novel again some months ago, then I came to Alice, and now I'm reading "In The Wet", probably the best Shute I know by now. Parts of Shute's writing might be considered as old fashioned, but anyway, he delivers great descriptions and characters, no doubt, and what makes him a great and interesting writer is exactly this. And here's some additional report: when I was thirteen or so (so this is some eighteen years since), you could easily get two of Shute's novels in all the bookstores - that was "On The Beach" and "A Town Like Alice", published by Rowohlt as Das letzte Ufer and Eine Stadt wie Alice. There have been other translations published by smaller publishers, without much success. In fact, today you can't get hold of one of them, they're out of print for years. The English school editions are the only Shute books you can get now (maybe they are abridged, it's likely but I don't know exactly), and sure, they are not attractive for a great number of readers. So much the better to have your site as a source of information for further reading! From time to time I'll drop by, for news on your site, while checking out other Nevil Shute novels. Kindest regards and greetings from Germany.

I have just discovered that Val Biro (born October 06 1921) is still alive and living in Sussex, England. Val Biro designed the Heinemann covers for "Round The Bend", "The Far Country", "Requiem For a Wren" and "In The Wet". Val Biro lives in West Sussex with his wife. He was born in Hungary and trained as an artist in Budapest before coming to London to study at the Central School. He worked in publishing before coming a freelance illustrator and starting his popular series based on the real Gumdrop, his own Austin 12/4 Heavy, 1926.

Val Biro may be attending the April 17th launch of John Stanley' book about the real mystery behind the crash of the German bomber at Exbury House that inspired "Requiem For a Wren" / "The Breaking Wave". More details about John Stanley's book will be in the next newsletter.

Bluffton High School writes:
In "On The Beach", John Osborne is a member of C.S.I.R.O. - what does this stand for?

Editor's Comment: CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Many long hours of further research on the internet and in libraries has revealed that it is an Organization of the Commonwealth's that Researches in the areas of Science and Industry.

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada writes:
Steven Hill, a friend, co-worker and soon to be commercial pilot asked me why I thought they didn't do an air search in the novel "So Disdained". I'd sure like it if someone (or everyone) could help find the answer.

A date and venue for the UK Nevil Shute re-union meeting has been arranged. The meeting will be on the weekend of May15th-16th 2004 and will be held at the Gateway to York Hotel just outside York. We have an interesting weekend in planning including discussion/presentation & chat, re-union dinner and a visit. A good opportunity for all Shutists to meet up. Not exclusively for UK Shutists- I already have a booking from the USA. Numbers will be limited so contact John Anderson for further information and to book your place.

This month we have had several updates to the website. A few tasters are detailed below:

Carolyn Ramm has written us a facinating character profile of Noel Strachan. Perhaps one of the most underrated of Nevil Shutes characters, click on Richard Michalak has let his imagination go wild with an regular old-fashioned dishmop! Check it out at The local Gatherings section has been updated to include more details of UK and USA local meetings, click on The Favourite books scorecard now has 124 entries. If you would like to vote for your favourite top three Nevil Shute books, click on

The new discussion board has been launched on the website and can be accessed at Please do explore and have fun. Anyone can browse the contents of the discussion board, but you need to register on it to be able to join in on discussions. This is a really easy process and gives you the option of having new messages delivered directly to your e-mail address. You can even choose which topics you want to hear about.

The registration process has also been amended to enable you to upload a photograph of yourself.

Check out my profile for an example! If you have already registered, you might like to check out these new features. If you have any comments about the discussion board, or would like to make suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact me directly at

The translations page on the website has had a major update. We now have translations for books in Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish & Japanese. If you know of any translations not listed on the site, translations in other languages, please send details by e-mail to

We are in need of a backup for Secretary/Treasurer and El Supremo Emeritus Dan Telfair. Dan has assured us that he intends to be around for another forty years or so but, just in case he joins our favorite author any time sooner, he thinks that it would be wise to have a backup to step in and take over as Secretary/Treasurer, at least on an interim basis. Also, although he intends to continue his Secretary/Treasurer duties for the foreseeable future, he has borne those responsibilities for over five years now. It is reasonable to assume that he might like to surrender them to someone else sometime in the next two or three years.

The Secretary/Treasurer duties do not require a great deal of technical expertise, as the system is up and running, and has been in satisfactory operation for a number of years now. Dan's idea for a backup would be to have someone with whom to share correspondence, reports, etc., so that person would have a familiarity with Foundation workings, and could take over in the event of an emergency or when and if Dan decides to step down. There are no strict criteria for applicants. Since the Foundation is incorporated in the US, it would be better, though not essential, that the applicant reside in the US. Also, applicants should be available for the foreseeable future as trainee/backups, and to assume the duties of Secretary/Treasurer should the need arise.

Shutists who may be interested in furthering their involvement in the Foundation in this manner should contact Dan directly at

EDITORIAL My editorial this month was going to be my absolutely brilliant new essay called Nevil Shute and The Dishmop. As it is now available on the website at: I won't bore you by repeating it here. For those with little life experience of dishmops, a vivid and exciting photo of a dishmop is in the website photo album at:

That completes this month's newsletter.

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

Dear All, I just realised that I forgot to credit the text in the following item that was in the newsletter. Simon Alan kindly passed the BBC article to me but I lost the credit in compiling the newsletter. As a point of honour, and to avoid arrest and torture, I am crediting it now.

It was from a BBC news item at: The article has a photo of the train and a map of the route.
Australia's dream of a passenger train crossing its unforgiving "Red Centre" is finally being realised. The Ghan received an enthusiastic send-off. This is a journey like no other. It begins a few kilometres from the Southern Ocean and ends in the tropics. In between the track carves through sandy coastal scrubland, the desert salt lakes and into the green suburbs of Alice Springs before arriving in the lush tropics. The railroad linking the central desert town of Alice Springs to Adelaide was completed in 1929. The stretch north to Darwin was finished last September.

All the best,
Richard Michalak
Historian and Newsletter Editor
The Nevil Shute Foundation

Nevil Shute Norway