Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

June Newsletter

2006-06/June, 2006


Please check this web site for the latest information on Nevil Shute's Legacy, April 22-27 2007 in Alice Springs.
Thinking about attending the Conference? Please contact Laura at to let her know if:

  1. You are definitely coming! You wouldn't miss the Conference for anything in the world and are already making your arrangements.
  2. You're probably coming but aren't definite
  3. You hope to come but don't know at this point
  4. Unlikely you'll be coming but are interested
  5. Don't think so or don't know but would like to be kept informed about the Conference. Your input is valuable to the conference planning.

Thank you in advance!


Forester Lindsley's son Nick has sent me some articles Forester wrote about being in Cobham's National Aviation Day air circus. They reveal that Forester and Connie both played the part of the bride in the Eloping Couple comedy routine further cementing the link between the real Forester and the fictional Connie.


Lisa Hocking who lives in the former Nevil Shute home in Langwarrin near Frankston, Victoria, Australia writes:

We have commenced operation of a Bed and Breakfast business in the house that Nevil Shute built at Langwarrin in Australia.
We have already hosted a couple of your members, and our updated web page might be useful to other members.

Editor's Comment:

If you visit you get to stay in one of the cottage extensions of the house, which are part of the original house and were built for Shute's daughters and also, I believe, housed his model workshop.
Shute, in continued good form at forecasting the future, presumably anticipated the advent of Rock and Roll and desired some audio insulation from his teenage girls. A link to this should be on the website now or soon.


Joy Hogg writes:

I agree Dick Francis writes like Shute in that he injects a good deal of information about his world of horses and racing in his mystery stories. He was once a jockey for the Queen Mum.
I would like to ask some of the contributors how reading Shute has changed his or her life, as some have suggested. I'd like to think it has changed mine, too, but need some time to figure out the impact. I have a sense of it though!
I also would like to ask which Shute book is a favorite, and why.


Gene Scribner of Elk River, Minnesota, USA writes:

Your newsletter arrived today and in reading it I found the site for the Lux Radio Theatre production of No Highway.
During WWII, I was stationed at an Electrical School in Hollywood and could see the performance of the Lux Radio Theater each week!
More importantly I have just completed (today) my second reading of No Highway. It was fascinating to hear the changes that they made to put the book into a one-hour radio show!
I E-mailed the website to my son in Texas.
The reason that I have just finished reading No Highway is that I recently decided that it was foolish to spend time reading a lot of so-so books tying to find a good book when I knew that Nevil Shute had written 23 or so that I know are good. No highway is my sixth on the reread path.
I have one problem with excellent characterization in that I get so involved (I sort of live the book instead of reading it) that it is a good thing that I don't have high blood pressure or I would sometimes have to quit reading a good book!


Mike Marsh writes:

Re: locating Shutists, I'm at the Mull of Kintyre for the summer and would certainly be interested to know if there's any other Shutists in this part of Scotland


Brian Kendal writes:

The mention of Sir Alan Cobham in your May Newsletter reminds me of a friend of mine - the late Anne Welch.
In the early 1930s young Anne visited one of Alan Cobham's Air Days and took a flight in the Airspeed "Ferry" - and from that moment on she was hooked on aviation.
Using all her pocket money, she took flying lessons and gained her licence in 1934.
Finding power flying rather expensive for a young lady, she transferred to gliders until WW2 when she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, delivering single engine and twin engined aircraft from factory to RAF bases.
These included almost every type from a Tiger Moth to Wellingtons, including fighter aircraft such as the Hurricane and the Spitfire.
What the effect on RAF aircrew was when their replacement aircraft was delivered by a vivacious, shapely, 5 ft blonde, I would like to know.
After the war she married Lorne Welch, who was one of the perpetrators of the famous Coldlitz glider. She continued both power flying and gliding and for a considerable period I understand that Anne and Lorne held just about every UK gliding record between them.
The last time that I met Anne, She was in her early 80s, and shortly before she died, she told me that she had just had a holiday in Poland where they had let her fly an Antonov AN2 - a lumbering, large, single engined transport biplane. I asked her how many types she now had in her log book and her answer was (I believe) 142.
And all this came about from a flight in a Shute/Tiltman designed Airspeed "Ferry".


Erda Hillmann of Houston, Texas, The USA writes:

While perusing John Lienhard's online series "Engines of our Ingenuity" I came across his episode No. 110 about Nevil Shute, or you can go to this address.

Editor's Comment:

Erda also wrote of having trouble getting to episode 112 which also involves Shute and the Comet aircraft, but I found it here.
There is a search function where you can find all the articles involving Nevil Shute


Roger Bourke writes:

My book, Prisoners of War: Literary Imagination and the Prisoner-of-War Experience, is now being advertised online on the UQP website.
It contains a chapter on A Town Like Alice and is due for release on 3 July.
Go to the UQP website.


John Anderson created a Nevil Shute Crossword for the Oxford get-together.
The Crossword will be on the website soon.
Even if it is not up yet, here are the clues to get you thinking.
Being ardent Shutists you shouldn't need to be mollycoddled by having the assisting letters of the crossword.
However, I have to admit I really struggled with some of the answers even with the assisting letters, especially when I had the other letters wrong.
This is clearly a design failure inhent in crosswords and should be fixed.
The answers will be in next month's newsletter.
John explains:
Apart from two obvious clues the answers to the others are all names of characters from the novels.


1. Too fat for him? (6 Letters)
3. Don't throw away this executive (5 Letters)
4. Shute's Oxford College (7 Letters)
5. She won a coconut (5 Letters)
6. David "remembered" her (8 Letters)
11. This "Rose" was an issue from French liaison (5 Letters)
12. Scottish noble for Mollie? (5 Letters)
13. He worked at Buxton (5 Letters)
14. Wren at a railway station? (6 Letters)
16. A Yuletide trustee? (4 Letters)
18. None too sweet for Scott (5 Letters)
19. He could be useful in the workshop (6 Letters)
20. He's at Under but not down under (5 Letters)
21. Boss of 13 across (5 Letters)
22. This "firebrand" went to the same school as Shute (5 Letters)


1. Shute's school in Oxford (6 Letters)
3. Half a thou (6 Letters)
7. Brenda and Peter's surname (8 Letters)
8. One cycled, the other crashed (5 Letters)
9. His real name when he wasn't "potty" (8 Letters)
10. Old coin for a dance with her (8 Letters)
11. "Well"...She was Arthur's daughter (5 Letters)
12. Flared up over Pompey (6 Letters)
15. Shute owned one, another flew a Spitfire (6 Letters)
16. One sounds lupine, the other adjusted tappets (6 Letters)
17. One flew planes, the other built cars (6 Letters)


Philip Bock of Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia writes:

I wonder if you can help us?
I manage The Phillip Island Resort on Phillip Island and according to some locals, during the shooting of the Phillip Island racing scenes of the movie "On The Beach", the stars stayed here! At the time, the motel was called The Sunseeker.
We have been gathering lots of information and have found it very interesting and we are sure others will also find it interesting, so we are starting to arrange "museum style displays" throughout the motel.
Should you be able to assist us by pointing us in any relevant direction to obtain more information/photos, we would be appreciative.
Please come and stay some time!

Editor's Comment:

I have passed this on to Keith Delarue whose wonderful website contains a lot of great information on the filming of On the Beach
and to Phillip Davey whose fabulous book When Hollywood Came To Melbourne is available for purchase.
Read about the book at:
If you have any other information that might be useful to Philip Bock please contact him and send a copy to me too.
Even if you only have pictures of his hotel in earlier times when you were a young Hells Angel and parked your motorbike on the motels prize-winning garden, I am sure Philip would love a copy.


John Anderson writes:

On Saturday the 13th of May some 20 Shutists gathered in Oxford for our re-union weekend.
The group included 3 from the USA, 2 from Australia and 1 from the Netherlands.
We were delighted to welcome new members who had not been to this type of event before. We had planned this as a kind of walking tour taking in the places that were significant to Shute as well as some that feature in his books.
First stop was at 55 Park Town, formerly the home of the Sturt family with whom Shute lived when he was at the Dragon School. It is literally just behind the school and we were warmly welcomed at the Dragon by Miss Gay Sturt who is their archivist and looks after the School Museum. She is also the niece of Shute's school friend Oliver Sturt.
Gay showed us round the School, still very much thriving, described how the School would have been in his day and she had also put up a fascinating array of exhibits from their Archives, including photographs and extracts from editions of the Draconian, the school magazine.
In two groups we looked at the museum where they have Shute's star globe in its wooden box. They also have his sextant but this is being repaired at the moment, so was not on display. From the atmosphere and philosophy of the School we appreciated how it influenced the young Shute's values and outlook. We also realised how much the School appreciates its distinguished former pupils who include Leonard Cheshire VC, John Betjeman and Sir John Mortimer amongst many others.
We visited the Library which was the main hall in his time and then sat down to an excellent buffet lunch.
Our visit to the Dragon was certainly a highlight of the weekend.
Our walk continued into Oxford with a short detour via Crick Road (where Janet Prentice lived in Requiem for a Wren ) and Norham Gardens (where the Lockwoods lived in An Old Captivity ). On the way we passed the Jenkin Building, the original building of the Engineering Science Department and in which Shute would have studied during his time there.
With a passing glance at the grand old Randolph Hotel, we moved on to Balliol College, where, thanks to their archivist, the normal entrance fee was waived for the group.
The sun shone as we took group photographs in the quad and explored the grounds before entering the magnificent College Chapel.
Taking the opportunity to sit down for a short break and admire the interior, we were unexpectedly treated to the Chapel organist practising a couple of pieces, perhaps for Evensong.
From Balliol it is a short walk past the Bodleian Library to look at the Radcliffe Camera and see the parapet where Helen Riley and Stephen Morris had their meeting.
Finally on to Longwall Street where a small window display commemorates William Morris' garage there in the 1920s.
We then made our own way back to our hotel, some by bus, the more energetic on foot.
Our re-union dinner was at the Cherwell Boathouse restaurant, close by the Dragon School and on the banks of the Cherwell river. A good dinner in excellent company.
After a leisurely breakfast Laura brought us up to date on the planning for the Alice Springs event next year and describing her trip to Alice earlier this year.
Those who were interested had the opportunity to look at some of the archive material I have collected including the correspondence from Arthur Norway and Nevil about his admission to Balliol in 1919.
Finally we repaired by cars to the Trout Inn at Godstow, a busy English pub, and mentioned in Pied Piper. Indeed after lunch we did as Charenton requested of Howard "drink a pint for me..sitting on the wall and looking at the fish in the pool, on a summers day"
And what of the tea and scones, traditional at these events? Well the eight of us who later on Sunday made the trip to nearby Bladon to visit the grave of Sir Winston Churchill found the perfect English teashop in the village, which served freshly made tea and scones.
It only remains for me to thank all those who came and hope they enjoyed the weekend as much as I did.

Editor's Comment:

Alison Jenner has also written a lively report on the event and it can be read at
John says photographs of the event are on the same website now.


Bob King has written to direct us to a video of a large radio-controlled scale model of a B52 with 4 working jet engines.
The model is so complex to fly it requires 2 radio-controlling pilots.
The video file is large (almost 30 MB) and the video could do with some editing so be patient.
As Shute was involved in the radio-controlled Airspeed Queen Wasp prototype in 1936, the radio-controlled Toraplane in 1939-40 and had been planning radio-controlled model boats in the late 1940s I suspect he would have appreciated this project.


Paul Spoff of Westerville, Ohio, The USA writes:

A million years ago, or at least back in the fifties I was for once caught up on my studies. It was a couple of days before Christmas break and I was in a study period and had little to do. Someone had left a paperback copy of The Far Country on one of the shelves.
Can you say HOOKED? I tore through that book in a couple of days and quickly went to the Library and asked for Nevil Shute books. The kind lady informed me that they were probably listed under Norway? Well, in short order I quickly went through the three or four books that they had.
I was always on the lookout for his novels and I soon had amassed a small collection of four or five of my own. Always on the lookout in book racks and used book stores, I hit the mother lode when I found a still in the dust jacket copy of Slide Rule for $2.00, this was in 1961.
I served in the U. S. Army, and was stationed just north of Frankfurt. The train station in Frankfurt had a fantastic book store and I found several new additions to add to my growing collection.
I now have all the books, excepting the last one that came out a few years ago.
As to the Theme, Is There An Author Similar To Nevil Shute, HAH!!! No, there isn't. Mores the pity, but then again when you've read the best, well, I'm sure you all get the idea.
I have several authors that I've read and collected over the years and all of them have there distinct and fine qualities.
Ross Thomas; dialog that is so true to life it is scary.
John D. MacDonald; a page burner of a writer, takes you more than one sitting, then you must be dead.
Ray Bradbury; flights of fancy.
But someone similar to Nevil Shute, nope, "aint gonna happen."
As the writer of the Newsletter stated: We are doomed to read and re re re read our favorites over and over again.
Oh, my favorite--or is that favourite? ROUND THE BEND.


Mills Dyer writes:

Early in Chapter 5 of ATLA, Jean writes to Noel that she is leaving Malaya "on Thursday by the Constellation" to go to Australia to search for Joe, and the beginning of Chapter 6 indicates that this is a Qantas Constellation.
A recent (2005) book that gives an exhaustive history of this airplane, "Queen of the Skies, The Lockheed Constellation", shows that Qantas received their first 4 Model L-749 Constellations in October 1947. Therefore, this scene that takes place in 1948 has Jean flying on one of the newest long-distance airliners in post-war service.
Those interested in the Lockheed Constellation may want to read this book by Claude G. Luisada (published by Ivy House Publishing Group, ISBN 1571974172). Our local library was able to get me a copy through inter-library loan. (My interest was from having flown on the EC-121D AEW&C aircraft in the Air Force from 1966-1968.)

Editor's Comment: You can see the Qantas Constellation (or its sister) that Jean flew in at this website.
Like me, have others also suspected that, consistent with his earlier books where Shute named characters after cars (Stephen Morris, Helen Riley etc), Shute named Connie Shak Lin after the beautifully engineered Lockheed Constellation which was usually called a Connie?


Dan Telfair writes:

And the Winners Are....
The Selection Board for the 2006 NSN Excellence in Aviation Scholarships was held at Double Eagle II Airport on May 25, 2006.
I (Dan Telfair) chaired the Selection Board.
Other members were Diane Bode, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Flight School, and Wendall Gunthorpe, one of their senior instructors.
Two pilots were selected for the awards, with each receiving a $1,500 scholarship to be used for further flight training.
The first recipient is Alix Vivier, the young lady who, at seventeen, assisted with the film festival and other responsibilities at the Centennial. Today, at 24, Alix has a Bachelors Degree in Aerospace Studies (Magna Cum Laude), and Private, Commercial, Multiengine, Instrument, and Certified Flight Instructor ratings. She works in sales at a pilot shop and instructs at the local fight school. She will use her scholarship to work toward her Instrument Instructor rating on the way to her Airline Transport Pilot rating, and her continued career in aviation.
The second recipient is Ursula Durrer, a 51 year-old change-of-career, single mother, who works as a Counter Attendant for Delta Airlines. Ursula is a Swiss National, who has a resident alien visa and a work permit for the US. In between her job and raising her seventeen year-old daughter, Ursula has earned her Private Pilots License and is almost finished with her Instrument rating. After that, she plans to follow with Commercial and Multiengine ratings in hopes of becoming a charter pilot.
Photos and bios of both recipients will be posted on the Web Site in the near future.

Editor's Comment:

I doubt that Nevil Shute himself could have come up with biographies of people who seem more fitting for our support. Congratulations to all concerned, selectors and selectees. (is selectees a word? it should be anyway)
As a 51 year old myself I would strongly relate to Ursula if she was a fictional character in a book anyway but as she is actually real I will be cheering her on.
Equally, as a 51 year old who barely feels 24 inside, I will also be cheering on Alix in her career.
If Alix hadn't been so highly qualified you could be forgiven for thinking she was chosen because she has the same name as the female lead in An Old Captivity.
In my psychic moments I see an orange floatplane and some inscribed stones in her future.


Lawrence Ford has written to give his opinion on a comment by Carolyn E. Ramm about Noel Strachan in A Town Like Alice in her Shute character piece
Lawrence writes:

Carolyn says "Noel's hope was that Jean would come home to England when she was unable to find Joe in Australia. However, his conscience finally forced him to write to Jean and say what he had done."
Whereas the great Nevil Shute actually wrote "If necessary, I could cable her to tell her his address in order that she might not leave Australia without seeing him."
These were Noel's thoughts while Joe Harman was still living with Noel, before going back to Australia.
Noel may well have been in love with Jean, but he went out of his way to look after Joe and make sure they got together - I certainly wouldn't describe Noel as tragic.


Andy Burgess writes:

While browsing the BBC website yesterday I came across a very short piece of film from the Vickers archives. It includes an even shorter clip of the R100. I am not sure if anyone has seen this before or whether there is a longer film with it in, but I thought you might like to have a look. It's at
At the bottom you will find a piece entitled 'The Depression Years - Centenary of Vickers' (1930's/b&w/sound).
The piece only lasts about 1m 30s and the R100 appears at about 30s for about 15s.
It does show an even briefer (if that's possible!) part of the interior and, do my eyes deceive me, or is the balding, pipe smoking young gent sitting at the table with a lady our hero??!.
Quite probably not, but see what you think.

Editor's Comment:

Originally assuming they were taken at the same time, I compared the movie film with the existing still in our website that shows Shute in the same room on the staircase in the hope of comparing his likeness in both.
However, I discovered the publicity shot and the film were made at quite different times because the still with Shute on the stairs has a carpet on the floor and the movie doesn't.
However, this doesn't mean for a minute that Shute wouldn't likely have also been recruited for the movie session too if he had been available.
Perhaps we can get some higher resolution blow-ups from the BBC to identify him more easily.
Would any readers like to nominate who they think is Shute?
The website photo album gives photos of Shute at that time to compare.


John Page writes:

I was rereading your April newsletter and found the passage where (the editor) said "I always find his books extremely calming".
I have always found myself turning to one or another of Shute's books when I am having a rough period in my life. I wouldn't say they are always calming.
Many continue to reduce me to tears (especially The Breaking Wave / Requiem For a Wren ) even though I have read them many times.
I find that there is nothing else like a NS novel to get my mind off my troubles.
It's a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist.
On another subject. My son is a pilot (first officer) on Canadair RJ's.
He has never been much of a fiction reader, but I finally convinced him to read one of Shute's novels and sent him off from a recent visit with RTB. I am waiting to see what he has to say when he has finished the book.

Editor's Comment:

I also always turn to Shute when things are hardest. I hold out to the last minute but once the crunch is at its worst and I open a Shute book the effect is always instant and like magic. I wish I could be sure what he does to make it work.
I am sure we all are waiting for John's son's reaction to Shute.
Of course, as ardent fans and because our friends are usually too polite, we never really hear of negative reactions to Shute but they must exist or Shute would be permanently as big as Dan Brown.
However amazing it is to us, Shute must leave many, many people completely cold.
It is equally mysterious to consider why Shute touches some people as to consider why others are utterly and completely unaffected.
The only sensible explanation I can come up with is that the vast majority of people who don't ardently love Shute are really Martians who are secretly taking over earth.
They have replicated us but a gene for a love of Shute slipped through their human copying system and now it is the only way we few real humans left can identify ourselves from the fakes.
If John's son fails the test by not liking Shute at least John can be consoled by the knowledge that he is not his real son after all and is really only a, somewhat to be pitied, poorly copied Martian clone. As John's now suspect "son" would still be in all other ways human-like and still have feelings even if he doesn't like Shute, John should still let his "son" visit him on Father's Day.
Many others of us have already discovered we married Martians. Nice Martians but Martians none the less.


Every month I try to keep the newsletter brief and to the point but it always grows like Topsy.
This week I was in Indonesia and again I couldn't do a mass mailing from overseas so now I am back in Sydney I am again sending this newsletter late.
Except for two weeks of rain around July or August, Sydney usually has a very mild winter and the winter swimming in the sea right now is fantastic with the water temperature above the air temperature. Once you start to freeze after stripping off and are standing on cold concrete with bare feet and the icy wind is turning you blue, the water doesn't feel too cold after all.
I have just finished Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo in a Penguin Classic Edition, which is a recent, very lively translation. I really enjoyed it. At 1,200 pages it was a great book in all senses and I used it to impress strangers with its weight and thickness.
If the newsletter ever reaches 1,200 pages I will stop.
Writing this mini review of Dumas' book reminds me of a different book review that was said to have appeared in the New York Times.
The reviewer simply said: "Once I put this book down I couldn't pick it up again."
Another theatre reviewer who had been previously successfully sued by an actor for a relentlessly vicious and damning review of his acting was forced to review the actor again.
He merely wrote: "Mr X is not up to his usual standard."
I hope you are all well.


Write in if you want your name listed and would like to get together with other Shutists in your vicinity.


Jim Wells lives in Lindfield, Sydney
Richard Michalak lives in Paddington, Sydney


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
(Priscilla will move to Thousand Oaks near LA in 2006)
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.