2005-05/May 1, 2005
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It's time to register and get all your planning done as time is flying.
THE SUDDENLY INCOMPLETE SET / OTHER UNPUBLISHED WORKS
Clive Ford firstname.lastname@example.org of Reading, Berkshire, The UK
Came across your site the other day and was surprised and, at the same time
pleased, to see that a Foundation had been set up to this great writer.
As a young man (I'm looking back some 30 plus years ago now) I purchased
through a monthly book club (Heron Books) what I thought was the entire
collection of all his books and became hooked. It's difficult to say how
many times I've gone back to them over the years to re-read them.
I thought I had the entire collection until I read your March Newsletter and
discovered I don't have the "entire" collection and that seemingly two
books, namely, VINLAND and SEAFARERS were not included in my collection,
(despite being given information to the contrary) which I'll need to hunt
down to add to my collection ...this raises the question; are there others?.
CAPTIVITY PLANE / SHUTE-INSPIRED WINES ?
Mike Meehan email@example.com
of The UK writes:
I've been trawling through some of your past newsletters for an aviation
reference I thought was there. Someone seemed to have pinned down exactly
the actual type of aircraft which Donald Ross flew in Captivity and referred
to as the Cosmos with a Wasp engine. Do you have any recollection where I
might find this article?
As you probably know Australian wines have become very popular outside of
your country. In fact they are among the best good value wines we can buy in
the UK. Quite recently two very interesting (and excellent) reds have come
my way. Their names are 'Harman's Range' and 'The Black Stump'. Can this be
more than coincidence? I wonder what other Shute related names they will
come up with next.
I must admit when I saw them I immediately thought of you and wondered if
you had used some influence with the marketing guys there! However, knowing
that The Black Stump is your least favourite book it seems unlikely, but
it's a good name for a wine for sure.
The AOC Cosmos floatplane has been variously identified as a Fairchild 71, a
Noordyn Norseman, and a Bellanca CH300.
In this, Jim Schermerhorn's last entry on the subject, he came down in favor
of the Bellanca.
The Cosmos appears to be a 6 or 7 seat, single engine, monoplane on twin
floats converted to arctic flying by paint scheme, extra petrol tanks and
wireless radio (Morse). Also contains cutout for aerial camera for
photo-mosaic work. This plane closely resembles the Bellanca CH-300
Pacemaker, a standout bush plane, used extensively in Canada from 1929
probably until the present time.
A mild controversy arose among a few Shutists about which airplane Nevil
Shute had in mind when he devised the Cosmos. Until May of 2003 The
Fairchild 71 was considered the role model. However, a cursory inspection of
the pilot's duties in the book show him closely inspecting the engine
cylinders and then replacing the cowling. Unfortunately the Fairchild 71
does not have engine cowling.
Another favorite put forward was the Noordyn Norseman, another incredible
bush plane certainly flying to this date. Unfortunately for the voters for
the Norseman, they failed, as I first did, to consider the time line. Our
pilot, Ross, left the RAF in 1929 and spent four years flying in Canada (on
the fictional Cosmos). He returned to England no later than 1934 and was
soon hired to fly the expedition. In reading the story there is great
importance put on rushing the expedition to start in late Spring. No matter
how one views this, the expedition could not have started later than early
1935. Unfortunately the Norseman first flew in late Autumn of 1935, and went
into production the next year. A research craftsman such as Nevil Shute
Norway would hardly have ignored the fact that Ross flew an airplane in
Canada for four years which hadn't been invented until well after the
Greenland expedition left.
Of the three planes, the Fairchild 71, the Noorduyn Norseman, and the
Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, we're left with the third by default. For those
eagle-eyed aviation enthusiasts who will rush to point out that the Bellanca
also didn't have engine cowling, they would be correct for the initial
production model with an unfortunate underpowered engine. Within a year or
so the plane was re-engined with the U.S. Wasp Junior and that required a
Bellanca CH-300 (you will have to imagine the floats on this one)
A MAN OF CONVICTION AND ACTION
Art Cornell GAC29@aol.com
has written to John
I read in the April Newsletter about the plans to fly the Airspeed Ferry to
the Cape Cod Gathering in October. I am reluctant to get involved but feel
that with my experience as a mathematician, in my previous life, and the
fact that I worked on aircraft for many years, I should let you know that it
is not a good idea.
I have made some quick calculations and have found that there will be some
structural fatigue problems with an aircraft of this age. I have found that
is equal to 2.863 X 10
That constant, when it goes into the
theory, means that the time to reach fatigue failure will be directly
proportional to it. The time to nuclear separation is directly proportional
It means that something is going to happen in two thousand eight hundred and
sixty-three hours. Because of its age I believe there should be some
evidence of nuclear separation in about 15 hours taking that value of U
In other words they will get about three-fourths of the way across the
As a result, I recommend that they do not attempt this flight. If they are
still determined, I will be forced to fly to the UK and retract the
ALEC AND SPIFFY WERE THE REAL SEAFARERS
I have recently received a series of highly detailed emails from the family
of Alec and Spiffy Menhinick. These have confirmed to me that Alec and
Spiffy were the inspiration for the characters in Shute's The Seafarers and,
to some extent, Requiem For A Wren.
Here are some basic facts about them.
Born in 1909, Alec Menhinick left school at 14 and went through a series of
jobs before joining the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) at the age of
Born in 1920, Dorothy Elspeth Jackson (called Spiffy because as a young girl
she could not enunciate "th" and consequently pronounced her name
"Elspiff") came from an upper middle class family in North London. She had
four sisters and one brother, Robert, a tail gunner in a Lancaster who was
shot down and killed over Holland in WW2.
All four girls were first class swimmers but Spiffy excelled as a diver, for
which she was chosen for the British Olympic Team scheduled to compete in
Helsinki in 1940. These games were abandoned due to the war.
When war was declared Spiffy volunteered for the Land Army and was sent to
work on a farm in Suffolk. From here she went on to join the WRENs in 1940.
She was first selected to be a Radar Technician and was sent for training at
Cheltenham ladies college in Gloucestershire. However she wanted to be a
boats crew wren, and was sent back to The Hamble where she met Alec.
In early 1941 Alec had joined the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons
Development (DMWD). Alec's commanding officer (in a very loose and unorthodox hierarchy) was
Lieutenant Commander Nevil Shute Norway RNVR.
Alec met Spiffy in early 1944 and they married in June 1944.
On January 16th 1945 they bought Herga, a bombed out sailing pilot cutter
sunk to her gunwhales in the mud of the Lymington River. They raised her and
rebuilt her to make their first home.
In September 1945 Robert, the first of their 4 children was born and taken
onto Herga at two weeks of age.
Alec was demobilized and in December 1946 Herga was sold and the family
moved aboard a decommissioned MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat). They later moved to
a cottage on dry land.
In 1948 their 2nd child Angela Rosemary Menhinick was born and Nevil Shute
became her Godfather.
With Shute's encouragement and help, Alec went to Australia in 1956 and the
family emigrated in 1957. They lived in Frankston, only a couple of miles
from Shute's home.
Alec works for Repco, an auto parts maker, and in 1959 he was a stunt driver
for Fred Astaire in the filming of On The Beach.
In 1962 the family returned to England.
Alec died in 1979.
ENGINEER / AUTHOR RICHARD P FEYNMAN
Allan LeBaron Allan_LeBaron@hotmail.com writes about Richard P. Feynman
who was another engineer who could write:
Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 and was a fine writer - I
have Reasonably Perfect Deviations From The Beaten Track, compiled and
edited by his daughter Michelle who is, if her book photo isn't heavily
retouched, a world-class beauty.
Feynman would correspond with anyone but
he didn't suffer fools gladly and wasn't above telling someone to go to
Feynman had received an undergraduate degree from MIT and his
doctorate from Princeton. When he was proposed for a Honorary Degree
from his alma mater, he turned it down with a letter to President Boheen with:
"...I remember watching the honorary degrees being conferred and feeling
that an 'honorary' degree was a debasement of the idea of a degree that
confirms that a certain work has been accomplished."
THE GREAT LIBRARY CRUSADE
Gene Scribner firstname.lastname@example.org
a retired high school science, math and computer
My grandson gave me ³The Engines of Our Ingenuity³, by John Lienhard,
copyright 2000 for Christmas two years ago. In it on pages 226 to 228, he
writes about Nevil Shute (Norway) and describes beautifully about his skill
as an author and really gives a very good description of his work. He also
and how its story was repeated in the de Havilland Comet and
the Boeing 727 several years after publication of the book! That sounded
interesting and lead to my introduction to Nevil Shute. Our seven county
public library has 22 Nevil Shute items including a video tape of
A TownLike Alice.
When I had read what the library had I bought others from
Amazon.com. It seemed a shame to have these marvelous books idle on the
shelves, so I have started a one-man campaign to increase their circulation.
I have succeeded in getting several library staff members started reading
some of them.
I am not one who is a literary professional or anything like that, but I am
absolutely fascinated by the fact that an author who died so long ago, still
has most of his books in print or at least available for purchase somewhere.
The biggest fascination of all is that so many people on three continents
are still so interested that the newsletter exists and there is to be an
international meeting like the one in Cape Cod.
To me it seems almost like a crime to have his books ³lying dormant² in our
SHUTE PHOTO ALBUM GIFT
Lil Fehr email@example.com of Canada writes:
Thank-you for maintaining the history of Nevil Shute.
I was introduced to his writing by my Dad, who is now 86 years old.
It is a source of wonderful discussion for both of us - as we both age, we
can't remember the stories so well, so re-read them frequently!!! Each time
they are new again.
It is good to grow old, isn't it!!!!
I have no question for you, just a comment, that I have appreciated your
website, and to say thank-you for your hard work and thought put into this.
It is very interesting to read through the biography etc.
Is there a book with the Nevil Shute Norway history and picture album. This
would be a wonderful gift to give my Dad for Fathers Day.
If there is, could you please tell me the name, author and publisher, so I
can begin to look for it.
CHERRY CAKE DEBATE CRUMBLES / OTHER RECURRING THEMES
While recently re-reading No Highway I was thrilled to note that Cherry Cake
is also mentioned in this novel.
Cherry cake first appears in Ruined City (1938) and then reappears in "The
Chequer Board" (1947) and "Trustee From the Toolroom" (1960) but till now I
hadn't realized it was also in No Highway (1948).
The Great Cherry Cake Debate has previously raged because it was not quite
clear if the repeated appearance of cherry cake was because it defined, in
Shute's mind, a typical working class delicacy or just because it may have
been Shute's favourite cake.
As I recall, in No Highway Dr Scott eats the Cherry Cake and as he is
clearly neither unsophisticated nor could he be possibly be called Working
Class I am swinging towards the theory that Shute just liked Cherry Cake
himself and it had no particular class association with him.
Another of Shute's themes that he mentions in No Highway is the degradation
of the world's religions and how they all need a cleanup. This later became
a central theme in Round The Bend.
Also mentioned as a possible course of action for Dr Scott if Mr Honey is
not vindicated is leaving England and starting a new life in Australia or
New Zealand. Clearly this was an issue already on Shute's mind in 1947. He
finally left for Australia in 1950.
FALMOUTH IS FRANKSTON / DEATH ON AN OPTIMISTIC STREET
Ian Yeoell recently wrote to the Discussion Board asking:
The 'suburb' of Falmouth is central to the story in On the Beach. All other
locations are easy to identify, from Macedon to Williamstown and Berwick.
However, as a resident of Melbourne, I'm having trouble working out where
Falmouth really is, or was. Is it a fictitious location? I can't find any
record of an area in or around Melbourne that may have previously borne this
name, but has since changed. It seems incredible that all other locations
are easily identified, that Falmouth would have been made up. I'm sure
someone out there will know the answer to this.
Alison Jenner posted a question on the Discussion Page last year asking:
Is it only coincidence that Shute's own boat was called Runagate, as well as
Malcolm Stevenson's in "Lonely Road?" Perhaps he bought it with the proceeds
of the book or film. Does anyone know?
SHUTE PORTRAIT ON DISPLAY IN SEPTEMBER
John Wilcox has noted a forthcoming exhibition on aviation at the Allen
Gallery in Alton Hampshire, in The UK. This exhibition features Flora Tworts
1937 portrait of Shute and runs from the 10th to the 24th of September 2005.
Please see the notice at:
SHUTE GOLD COIN
Kirk Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently aquired a gold/brass? coin with the head of Nevil Shute and his
name and the dates 1899 -1960. Would you have any information pertaining to
this item? When produced, for what purpose and possible availability?
GROUP X / SHUTIST EXPANSIONISM
I have heard from Judy Hoch email@example.com who has a book club in
Colorado. They are currently reading Trustee From the Toolroom. Judy writes:
The book group is a collection of folks ranging from an astrophysicists to a
couple of academics, some artists, a magazine editor, to a retired piping
contractor. What we read is equally as eclectic - ranging from Jane Austin
to Thomas Friedman to Joe Esterhaz. We have never agreed on a name for the
bunch so we call it Group X.
We have maintained a group of about 25 for 18 years.
(At the next meeting) we will have as a guest, Bob Wester, who is a good
friend of one of the Group X members.
I believe that Bob is fairly active in the Nevil Shute group.
SHUTE BUMPER STICKER ?
Alison Jenner has written suggesting we create a Shute Bumper Sticker to
celebrate the 75th anniversary of R100s flight to Canada.
My feeling is that designs could be placed on the website with instructions
how to print and make a sticker yourself.
My first thought was to make a simple design, print it and then laminate it
and stick it on your car. Does anyone have any experience of this process ?
Will it work ?
Making a large number of bumper stickers through one of the many commercial
bumper sticker concerns involves a large outlay of money and the high risk
of a financial loss whereas individuals printing from the website would be
virtually free for all and more fun.
Does anyone have any designs, design suggestions or practical advice?
BODIES ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT ?
Trish Lovell of the UK sent me a cutting of a 1994 article in the Portsmouth
'News' Saturday April 30 1994 about stories of German bodies being washed up
on The Isle of Wight in 1940-41 and even the rumour of a repelled invasion
attempt at that time. She then related it to passages in Most Secret.
Has anyone seen any factual data about any of these events however minor?
In Most Secret Shute says that heavy attacks including fire-bombing were
made on invasion barges on September 16 1940 and that hundreds of bodies
were washed onto the coast of France.
Was Shute making use of what he knew from his experience?
Note the Royal Clarence Hotel and Haslar hospital are also mentioned in this
book, pp 76 and 77 et al of the 1973 Pan version - just to add to your
various Pompey and district areas!
I have read, and loved, Nevil Shute's books for the last 40 years - as
a Portsmouth girl I have enjoyed trying to trace the places mentioned.
It makes it more real - and the knowledge that Shute was one of the group of
inventors who helped our war effort is interesting. People make fiction
largely of what they know to be fact - names changed to protect the innocent
- and I wonder just what occurrences will prove to
be based on actual events, not permitted to be released as yet.
Steph Gallagher writes:
Dear friends, there has been talk lately about re-organising sections of the
website to make information easier to find. I already have some ideas as to
how this would work, however, before we undertake such a task, your thoughts
and opinions are appreciated. Therefore if you would like to drop me a line
with your thoughts surrounding the following questions, I would be most
Please send your thoughts to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
adding "Website Suggestions" to the subject line of your e-mail. Many
- When searching for specific information, how easy is it to find what youare looking for?
- Would you prefer fewer main headings with lots of sub headingsunderneath, or a longer list of main headings?
- Are there any sections you would like to see added or deleted?
- Are there any sections would you like to see combined?
- Do you have any further comments about the site you would like to add?
ON THE BEACH AGAIN
Laura Scneider writes that she was alerted that On The Beach has been
referred to in a book called The FIve Bells and Bladebone by Martha Grimes.
Showing great dedication to Shute research Laura read all the way to page
280 to find the mention of On The Beach and wrote:
I think the book was good but my goal was to find the passage.
ST HUBERT SONG
Someone has a recording of the St Hubert Songs celebrating R100. I was sent
copies but have moved a couple of times since and now can't find them. Can
anyone help ?
TARGET GLIDER / JETEX SITE
Roger Simmonds RogerS@wickhamlabs.co.uk
of The UK writes:
I was most interested to learn that Shute had featured the target drone in
one of his stories, so thank you for this!
For more accurate information on this aeroplane, have a look at the
Jetex.org website. Go into the archives and look at the 'Jet (X) Files' for
Nov 2004. There is an interview with Bert Judge (who is very much alive!)
about the target drone (see the section called 'the Orange Peril').
Shute worked with Joe Mansour and a rocket motor was developed (with ICI)
for the drone.
This lead to the 'Jetex motors' used for model aircraft just after WW2. The
target drone as such was not 'Jetex' powered - see the article.
WHEEZES OR WHEEZERS
Shaund Usher Shaundusher@aol.com writes:
In fairness to the wartime Admiralty "Wheezes and Dodges" section, I doubt
if the lighthearted version of the acronym identified the infirm and the
"Wheeze" and "Dodge" were Edwardian slang terms, still very much around in
the 1930s (see PG Wodehouse novels of the time), meaning an idea, a
stratagem, a project or the solution to a problem. "Good wheeze," meant
"Good idea," for instance.
Similarly, a "dodge" implied not evasion, but ingenuity -- "He's thought up
a good dodge to fix that leaky carburettor."
I think if your suggestion were right, then the words would have been
WheezERS and DodgERS, rather than wheezes and dodges, suggesting abstract
Sorry to be pedantic and nitpicking, but it seems a shame that those
long-dead boffins should be tarred with the wrong brush!
That completes this month's newsletter.
All the best from AUTFOD
Nevil Shute Foundation Historian and Newsletter Editor
Please write to:
Nevil Shute Norway Foundation
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