Book Review

2004-12/Dec 1, 2004


REMINDER: The Foundation seldom sends e-mail from any of the addresses and NEVER sends e-mail with attachments. If anyone receives an e-mail purportedly from a Foundation address that contains an attachment, WE DID NOT SEND IT. DELETE it immediately. DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT.


If you have installed Anti-Spam software you might accidentally block the newsletter too. Check your settings and make sure you still accept all mail from:


We have a shorter newsletter this month.
In part this is because this month I had a major computer crash from which I am still clearing the wreckage.
Sadly I lost some letters and the updated address list so if you asked to be added or removed and find you weren't, that is the reason why. Of course logic says that in both cases you are unlikely to be reading this right now anyway.


Mike Meehan of the UK writes:

Just got back from Singapore a few days ago.
On the in-flight music from Singapore 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' was played. BANG, obvious, Pastoral comes to mind. Then as I had a stupefying 12 hours still to fly and my reading light didn't work I started to play NS mind games.
My mental exercise was to try to remember as many musical connections as I could in his novels. I truly amazed myself, not by the fact that I could remember them but of the quantity and scope of the music. I went to the galley, got some paper and started to write it all down using the light there.
Has anyone looked at this aspect of the novels before?
As I said the scope is very wide and I want to relate its usage now to the man himself and his likes and dislikes musically. I don't recall seeing anything in detail, but we know of course that his wife was a good pianist.
Most of the following was scribbled by me during the flight, however I've had to expand it by reference since I came home and I haven't yet finished the task. Take a look at this:

No Highway.

Elspeth practices the piano.
'Pastoral Symphony' on wireless.
Talk of a Symphony on the radio each week.
Monica Teesdale recalled dance tunes : 'Red Wing' & 'Mysterious Rag'

Far Country.

When he's happy Jack Dorman whistles the song 'She's Too Fat For Me'.

Lonely Road.

Sixpence sings 'Body & Soul', one from 'Bitter Suite' and discusses various songs and airs and their rhythms for dancing.


'Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' also an AC2 was whistling 'Daisy Daisy' .


Alix plays in an orchestra, talks of playing a Symphony and 'The Sibelious Thing'


Noel Strachan takes Jean to the opera several times at Albert Hall.
'Skaters Waltz'

Black Stump.

'Stonecutters Cut It On Stone' from Carousel used as preface.


Songs included:- 'South Of The Border', 'Music Maestro Please',' I Like To Dance & Tap My Feet'


An Italian song 'I Am Not Of This Earth' & 'It Ain't Going To Rain No Mo' No Mo''

Rainbow & The Rose.

Brenda liked 'Lilac Time'. Johnny took Peggy Dawson to a few concerts.

Ruined City.

Singing of 'Land of Hope & Glory'

Finally, if you are still with me the most musical of all the novels:

So Disdained.

Peter Moran constantly played and went into great detail about his piano music for 'A Play For The Cinema'.
Also included:- Some Chopin, Saints Saens, Verdi, Schubert, bits of 'La Traviata', 'Spring Song' & 'One Fine Day'.

What amazes me is that many of the lyrics are written out almost in full for many of the songs. Having been brought up in England at about the same time his children were I know that music within our family was an integral part of our everyday lives. Our family get togethers always included plenty of singing and music. It was just something people did in those days.

Editor's Comment: I always particularly liked Maurice Lenden in So Disdained accusing Peter Moran of playing his piano at him.
John Anderson adds: I think Shute also mentions the music in the Chapel at Shrewsbury School - see 'Slide Rule' and also John Wilcox's article on the website about 'What Did Nevil Shute Actually Believe'.


Sadly, we heard this month that Sydney Hansel, who worked with Shute and Sir Dennistoun Burney on the Toraplane and Doravane in 1939-40 and then with Shute at the DMWD, had died earlier this year. Like most of the most famous English and Americans he was actually an Australian.
Born on April 01 1904 in Sydney, Australia, Hansel moved from England to the Pacific Northeast of the USA sometime after WW2. He kept in touch with Shute well into the 1950s and provided background research for Beyond The Black Stump. Hansel died just after his 100th birthday.
Hansel's daughter has many of her father's papers and photos including at least one photo of Hansel and Shute together during Shute's visit to the US Northwest. She also remembers visiting Pond Head and playing with Heather and Shirley during or shortly after the war.
We were even more pleased to hear that Hansel's daughter had recorded an oral history of Sydney's life and that they are very kindly giving us access to these documents in a few months time so expect more detail about Sydney Hansel's life soon.


In spite of some very generous and enthusiastic support from participants and reviewers, Philip Davey is having trouble finding a publisher for his book about the shooting of On The Beach in Melbourne in 1959. If anyone knows a publisher I suggest they hunt them up a tree using a sharp stick and urge them to get this book in print.
Stanley Kramer's wife Karen Kramer and Donna Anderson, who is the last surviving major cast member and played Mary Holmes in the film, hosted an LA screening of On The Beach to promote the book and helped Philip to access extensive information including Kramer's personal files.
In his research of the filming, Philip has even found a movie scene featuring a cameo by Australian TV personality Graham Kennedy (Australia's equally iconic and contemporary version of Johnnie Carson) that was cut from the final film.
Philip has also discovered someone who insists they met Shute at the Philip Island shooting of the race scenes. Previously Shute was believed not to have attended. Perhaps the cars inexorably drew him to the shoot.
A Photo Exhibition in Frankston, Victoria, Australia about the filming of On the Beach will be at Frankston Library from Tuesday 16 Nov to Sunday 5 Dec 2004. After this, it moves to Carrum Downs.
If you want a copy of Phillip's book in whatever form it is finally published or can help find a publisher please contact Keith Delarue via his website.
You should go to Keith Delarue's truly fabulous website anyway for details of the exhibition and loads of fascinating, constantly updated, reading about Shute, Shute's racing, and the filming of On The Beach. Keith's site just gets better and better.
Go to:
Keith has also discovered that the French version of the movie was titled 'The Last Shore'. Scroll down to the bottom of the same page of his site for details. Also on his site are wonderful trivia pieces about Ava and Greg and the making of the film.


Although I gave Julian Smith a merciless hammering in the last newsletter regarding his interpretation of Shute, I avidly admired his research. After all his exhaustive work, Julian suffered a house fire in the 70's and all his research papers and materials, which were stored in his attic, were destroyed in the blaze.


John Anderson writes:

The Airspeed Patent for the retractable undercarriage is GB Patent Number 397964 and is dated 7th September 1933. Interestingly only Tiltman is named as the inventor - no mention of Shute. This tends to confirm that Tiltman was the technical brain in Airspeed. Shute's only patent during his time at Airspeed was GB 483583 of April 1938 for an instrument for recording air density. Tiltman received a patent for the rear cockpit plane - the AS33 project that was never built. This is GB Patent 470650 of August 1937. You can view and search for patents using The link below is for the undercarriage patent. Patent descriptions and drawings can be downloaded in Acrobat PDF format.


John Anderson also writes:

I have just been in contact with Bert Judge who lives down in Kent.
I phoned him earlier this evening. He told me he worked with 'Commander Norway' on both the Target Glider and the Swallow project. He was an AID inspector for International Model Aircraft at that time and was involved with the tests on the Swallow both at Farnborough and also on the Beaulieu River.
He also mentioned Sydney Hansel whom he knew as a designer, brought in by Commander Norway on the Swallow project.
Alec Menhinick was also mentioned - he wrote a column in a motorcycle magazine under the pen name 'A Mechanic' - all this in a 10 minute phone conversation!
So Mr.Judge's recollection of the people, projects, and associated problems, seems remarkably clear and detailed. I said we would like to come and meet him and talk further and he indicated we would be welcome any time. I left it that we will get in touch, probably early in the New Year and I said I would send him a copy of my piece on the DMWD which he might find of interest.

Editor's Comment: I can't wait for this interview to shed more light. Somehow, regardless of how much more we seem to learn, I never really feel we have any real idea what Shute was like to actually meet. It's very strange and part of the fascination.


Dan Telfair writes:

We are sad to report that long time Shutists Jim and Jerre Schermerhorn lost their daughter Julie on November 26, after a long battle with cancer. Julie wrote her own obituary, and indicated that it was all that she wanted to be said:

Julie Alexis Wilkinson: Born July 30, 1961. Died November 26, 2004. Survived by two cat kids, a loving family, and many, many friends.

Editor's Comment: Jim and Jerre Schermerhorn have made many huge, and much appreciated, efforts for the Nevil Shute Foundation. I am sure that all our readers extend their sympathy at this very sad time.


Elizabeth Richardson writes:

My husband and I have just become aware of your web site. My husband started his apprenticeship at Airspeed in 1946.
We saw reference to the Cape Cod Chapter. What other chapters exist in the US please?
We live in retirement in Tucson, Arizona.

Editor's Comment: I directed Elizabeth to the Gatherings Page on our website where the Chapters are listed.


Art Cornell writes:

Plans for the Cape Cod Nevil Shute Gathering (CapeCod2005) to be held on Cape Cod on October 2-6, 2005 are continuing at a feverish pace. About 100 people have expressed a desire to attend. We are hoping for 125 to 150.
The Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis, Massachusetts has been selected for the site of the event, starting with a Welcoming Reception and followed in the next four days with talks and a bus excursion of Cape Cod.
The speakers are all lined up and the excursion route has been decided. We, however, are still searching for a notable Keynote Speaker at the Wednesday evening clam bake.
Sometime in the spring we plan to issue a Press Release. We will send it to the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Cape Cod Times. But what others? Please send us the e-mail or postal addresses of your favorite publications.
Details on registering for the Gathering and making reservations at the Cape Codder Resort will be given in the February 1, 2005, newsletter. Stay with it; keep yourself posted.
All attendees to the Gathering must have read An Old Captivity. Be prepared because there will be a test given.


Dougal deHavilland writes:

I have been reading NS for over 60 years - I'm now 73 and the great thing is that as one's memory dims, the novels (I have them all of course) are like new, even though I've read them probably 15 to 20 times. I remember some of the themes but the wealth of detail never ceases to amaze me.


The next Newsletter will appear between Christmas and New Year so let me wish you all an early Happy Holidays.
In Sydney the holiday season is hot weather but we still get the plastic Christmas Trees with the fake snow in the shops.
Whatever your weather, enjoy it and be safe and well.

That completes this month's newsletter.
All the best from AUTFOD
Richard Michalak
Nevil Shute Foundation Historian and Newsletter Editor
Please write to:

Nevil Shute Norway