Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

What's Happening This Week In Hyannis

News From Cape Cod 2005


Cape Cod was discovered by the Vikings a thousand years ago. That is what is believed by many researchers after reading the Vinland Sagas. The geography fits perfectly. It is also what Nevil Shute believed when he wrote his novel, An Old Captivity in 1940 and his screen play, Vinland the Good in 1946 about Leif Ericsson's visit to Cape Cod.

Now, here on Cape Cod at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis, October 2-6, we are celebrating his writings which include On the Beach and A Town Like Alice. They were both made into major motion pictures.

Sixty-four Nevil Shute enthusiasts from Australia, England, France, The Netherlands and the United States will gather for a literary conference to discuss his writings. This is our fourth Gathering but this one has the motto, "We Shall Remember Them" taken from the last line of An Old Captivity. It refers to two individuals mentioned in the Viking Sagas who were with Leif Ericsson.

The October conference will include a bus excursion visiting Provincetown and other sites mentioned in Shute's novel An Old Captivity. Additional highlights will be an exhibit of Nevil Shute memorabilia, showings of the films based on Shute's novels, and ten literary sessions. The topics of the sessions will range from a panel discussion and quiz featuring several of Shute's "senior" fans to a session discussing how to attract young people to Nevil Shute's work led by a sixteen-year-old participant. There will also be ample opportunity to socialize with people from several continents who share an enduring appreciation for Nevil Shute, this fascinating man and master storyteller, and for his beloved characters, often described as being ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Nevil Shute visited Cape Cod in 1939 and described Cape Cod as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Interested in the Viking sagas, Shute wrote his sixth novel, An Old Captivity, about the Vikings discovering Cape Cod. It is set in the 1930s and is about an archeologist who explores the Viking sites on Greenland. He hires a pilot to take him there from England in a seaplane. The pilot, overworked and under great stress, cannot sleep so he takes sleeping pills and dreams about Leif Ericsson and two Viking slaves, Haki and Hekja.

Rather than fly back to England by way of Iceland they fly down to Labrador and then to Cape Cod. The pilot said "I've been here before" and lands the plane on Prince Cove in Marston Mills. On shore he finds the stone he had dreamt about and where it had been left a thousand years before. On the stone were the names of Haki and Hekja who were written about in the Viking Sagas.