Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

July Newsletter

2006-07/July, 2006


John Anderson writes:

At our Oxford Weekend in May, Alison Jenner casually mentioned that she would be appearing on the BBC TV show "Mastermind" with her specialist subject being "The life and work of Nevil Shute". Being a modest person she seemed to want to keep the news low key. I asked her to let me know when the show would be broadcast. The show went out on BBC2 last night (6th July) Not only did she score 14 (out of 16) on Shute but went on to win that heat handsomely over the other three contenders. The format of the show is that each contender answers 2 minutes of questions on their specialist subject and 2 minutes on General Knowledge. So Alison will be appearing in a later round with a different specialist subject. Prior to the General Knowledge questions, John Humphrys, the Questionmaster, has a brief 'conversation' with each contestant. In Alison's case his opening remark was "Nevil Shute - not a great writer". Alison just smiled and begged to differ! No doubt Alison will be embarrased by the many congratulatory e mails she will have received. She gave a terrific performance with superb recall under pressure. You can't keep a good Shutist down.


Below are the answers to John Anderson's tortuous crossword with some additional, and probably erroneous, explanations and comments from me. Before you continue, you can print out and do the real crossword from at: John Anderson's Nevil Shute website


1. Too fat for him?
Answer: Dorman
Jack Dorman sings the song She's Too Fat For Me at the beginning of The Far Country. Shute had first heard it on arriving in Australia when up in Far North Queensland.
If you feel you really must hear an atonal and completely unmusical version of this song (the only one I could find) go to this site, scroll down and click on listen:
3. Don't throw away this executive.
Answer: Chuck. Chuck as in Throw away. Chuck Ferris was an executive in Trustee. I suspect that Chuck was named Ferris either after the engineer inventor of the Ferris Wheel or after ferrous metals.
4. Shute's Oxford College
Answer: Balliol.
5. She won a coconut.
Answer: Janet. Janet Prentice won a coconut shooting down a target plane in Requiem For a Wren / The Breaking Wave. From the description it seems very likely she shot down the rocket propelled Target Glider Shute designed at the DMWD.
6. David "remembered" her.
Answer: Rosemary. Rosemary was the female lead in In The Wet. Rosemary is the flower symbol of Remembrance.
11. This "Rose" was an issue from French liaison.
Answer: Peggy. In The Rainbow and the Rose, Peggy is Johnnie's and Brenda's daughter who was conceived in France.
12. Scottish noble for Mollie?
Answer: Laird. Stanton Laird and Mollie are the main characters in Beyond The Black Stump. A Laird is a Scottish nobleman.
13. He worked at Buxton.
Answer: Billy. Billy Monkhouse was Johnnie Pascoe's Ground Engineer in Rainbow.
14. Wren at a railway station?
Answer: Porter. Janet Porter was Janet Prentice's false name in Requiem For a Wren / The Breaking Wave.
16. A Yuletide Trustee?
Answer: Noel. Noel is the lawyer in A Town Like Alice was Jean's trustee. Did Shute name him Noel because he gave Jean a big (Christmas) present? (her legacy).
18. None too sweet for Scott.
Answer: Honey. Mr Honey was the scientist in No Highway. Mr Scott was his harassed boss.
19. He could be useful in the workshop.
Answer: Turner. Mr Turner was the in The Chequer Board. A Fitter and Turner is an English type of mechanic / machinist who can work a lathe. I suspect a Fitter and Turner has a different title in The USA and other countries.
20. He's at Under but not Down Under.
Answer: Moran. In So Disdained, the narrator is Moran who is the manager of Under hall. You can see the long abandoned Cowdrey House, complete with hump backed bridges, that I believe Shute used as a basis for Under Hall in West Sussex in The UK.
21. Boss of 13 Across.
Answer: Pascoe. Johnnie Pascoe was Billy Monkhouse's boss in Rainbow.
22. This "firebrand" went to the same school as Shute.
Answer: Simon. In Most Secret, Charles Simon, who used fire against the Germans, went to Shute's old school, Shrewsbury.


1. Shute's school in Oxford.
Answer: Dragon. The Dragon School.
3. Half a thou.
Answer: Connie. In Round The Bend, Connie, describing the tiny differences between being a normal man and possibly becoming a prophet, says "Half a thou smaller and it'd be right...."
7. Brenda and Peter's surname.
Answer: Marshall. Brenda Marshall in Rainbow and Peter Marshall in Pastoral.
8. One cycled, the other crashed.
Answer: Riley. Helen Riley and Malcolm Riley in Stephen Morris.
9. His real name when he wasn't "potty".
Answer: Chambers. Jerry Chambers in Landfall Jerry Chambers was Roderick Chambers' nickname in Landfall. Jerry Chambers was slang for a chamber pot.
10. Old coin for a dance with her.
Answer: Sixpence. Mollie's nickname in Lonely Road was Sixpence. Mollie was a dance hall hostess. Since The UK converted to a decimal currency, the sixpence is now an obsolete coin.
11. "Well"...She was Arthur's daughter.
Answer: Paget. Jean Paget in Alice had a well dug. She was Arthur Paget's daughter.
12. Flared up over Pompey.
Answer: Lenden. Lenden was the aerial photographer pilot who let off parachute flares over Pompey near Portsmouth to take espionage photos.
15. Shute owned one, another flew a Spitfire.
Answer: Morgan. Shute owned a Morgan 3 wheeler car at Oxford. Morgan was the pilot in The Chequer Board. He flew Spitfires and Dakotas (British Military DC3s).
16. One sounds lupine, the other adjusted tappets.
Answer: Donald. Lupine is wolf-like. Donald Wolf was in The Seafarers. Donald Ross was the pilot in An Old Captivity who also did all his own ground engineer work.
17. One flew planes, the other built cars.
Answer: Morris. Stephen Morris was a pilot. Morris cars were owned and mentioned by Shute.


Maxine Round writes:

We are based in the New Forest, on the coastline of the Solent in an area where Requiem for a Wren was partly based.
My husband who is a full time teacher (high school and University) and I have set up a taxi/tour business based on using a traditional London style taxi:
We are hoping to offer bespoke 'Shute' tours in our area, Beaulieu River, Beaulieu Airfield, Exbury etc.
We can also help in organising accomodation pick up from airports etc. Of course there are many other interesting aspects to our area and England's newest National Park - medieval heritage, WWII US connections and pristine natural beauty.
Please let me know how we might be able to offer our services to your community. We are a family business, trusting in the benefits of free enterprise and strong social ethics, which I hope Mr Shute would approve of.
Maxine Round
South Wing, Calshot Rd, Southampton, SO45 1BR, The UK.

Editor's Comment:

Maxine's service sounds great and I hope any of you planning to visit that area contact Maxine. There is nothing like local knowledge.
Lately we are getting more of this kind of service brought to our notice. This is great, but please remember that The Nevil Shute Foundation never actually endorses any tours or products.
However, we are happy to bring them to your attention.
Naturally, after that it is entirely your responsibility.


Arne Reil has reported that recently the newsletter comes through as smaller print.
Has anyone else had that problem?
So far I am mystified, as I have been sending it the same way, in the same style, from the same computer for 18 months.

Note from your webmeister:

The text size displayed is determined by two things: Settings in the email client program used by the sender to write the email, and by similar text size settings in the one you use to read the email (Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Entourage, Apple Mail).
If the email arrives with the font size set too small you can correct it in your receiver with the Text Size control. I use Mozilla Thunderbird, and the control is under the View selection on the main menu bar.
If you are using Apple Mail (on a Mac) to read emails, go to the Main Menu bar and select Format>Style>Bigger to increase text size.
If you are authoring emails with Apple Mail, look for the Fonts button on the draft document (the window that pops up when you click on New in the Main window.)


Paul Spoff writes:

Is there a Nevil Shute book that you don't read? There is for me, it is Requiem For A Wren.
I can still recall those many years ago when I read it and I loved it. Pages were turning at rapid clip and I was totally immersed in it. Alas, the end was and is a downer from which I have never recovered or returned to. I will go back and randomly select an NSN and just start reading and within seconds I am taken on a trip that is always most fulfilling and rewarding. But it will never be Requiem For A Wren.
Am I alone?
Have you noticed when reading Round the Bend, how much the cities in the Near and Far East and South East Asia have so much meaning in todays news, clear back into the sixties? Thanks to Shute we've had the pleasure of visiting them at a more tranquil time.

Editor's Comment:

I certainly find requiem rather depressing even if it is beautifully written, and I strongly dislike Beyond the Black Stump. My reasons for disliking Beyond The Black Stump are on the website at:
Does anyone dislike any other books? I hope you all don't suddenly decide you hate all his books.


I recently asked Shute's daughter Heather Mayfield if she or her sister had dishmop dollies or if the Shute households had over-the-sink water heaters (as featured in No Highway).
Heather replied:

I don't remember either of us having a dishmop or any other unlikely object as a doll when we were growing up. In fact, I only remember having one doll. Shirley was more of a tomboy.
I don't remember ever having an over-the-sink water heater.
We did have a generator at Langwarrin, which produced electricity for a couple of hours a day, then stored it so that we could have lights at night. I suppose for radio also.
However, we had an Aga or an Esse (wood fired stove), I forget which, for cooking, right up until we sold Langwarrin. (after Shute's death)
The refrigerator was gas, to the best of my recollection. I remember the thermostat didn't work too well, and the milk either froze, and came out of the top of the bottle, or else went sour before we could use it.

Editor's Further Comment:
I also had correspondence remarking on Shute's anger at the end of the film version of On The Beach. I replied:

I don't think that Shute was a stranger to infidelity. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting he had affairs, but he knew a lot about people.
I don't think it was any kind of religious-based morality that made him want the chaste ending, it was just that Commander Towers was a man who was required to maintain discipline in all aspects of his life and his faithfulness to a wife he still deeply loved and missed was essential to hold his whole being together.
In his mind he had had to create a fiction that he was still going to see his family again or he knew he just could not go on.
Therefore he still had a wife and he was not going to betray her because he loved her and wouldn't hurt her for the world.
Commander Towers decided that he couldn't live with himself if he was unfaithful in his mind with Moira.
The fidelity question was really about Commander Towers being able to continue a relationship with himself.
The whole book was about how people carry on regardless.
Remember Shute must have seen heaps of this in the war.
Remember the earlier reference to an RAF officer who broke down crying. (his stiff upper lip unstiffened) He crumbled when confronted with a domestic scene because he realised all at home were long dead.
Shute wasn't moralising, at least not in any religious or regulatory sense, but he certainly has his characters act in ways that are consistent with real people.
If you saw the absolutely unforgivably dreadful 2001 remake of On The Beach you will recall it was an appalling movie with people acting atrociously and without any real regard for others.
I had no sympathy for them at all and was rather glad that their days were numbered.
In that dreadful film Commander Towers actually deserted his men at the end and ran to Moira. What were the writers thinking? He couldn't have been presented as a more irresponsible, superficial, cowardly, dishonourable and un-likeable character.
The saddest thing is that every time a filmmaker makes a bad film of a book it diminishes the future chances of that book being made into the film that should have been made.


Supriya Suri and of India has written that she is doing a Master of Philosophy in English Literature and has taken up the study of Nevil Shute for her M.Phil. dissertation.

I have already offered Supriya any assistance I can provide.
Supriya is a student at Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, India.
I am sure you all join me in wishing Supriya the best of luck with her dissertation.
I hope that when it is finished and Supriya has her Masters she will offer it for posting on our website.


Being two of the most interesting people of the 20th Century, it always surprises me that we can find virtually no connections between Churchill and Shute. There seem to be no records of Shute's opinions of Churchill and certainly no opinions of Shute in Churchill.
I had always hoped to find that Churchill had written in his diary "Just read Pied Piper. What a great book!" or "I wish I had met Jean first!" but it seems not to be.
However, I have just embarked on re-reading Martin Gilberts excellent biography of Churchill and was pleased to discover that Shute's excellent literary agents, AP Watt, also handled the publication of Churchill's first book, The Malakand Field Force, which was an account of a campaign against Afghan insurgents. Churchill described the campaign as "Civilisation: face to face with militant Mohammedanism". It was published in 1898. Malakand is on the Afghan border.
"But what of Sherlock Holmes?" you ask.
Of further interest (I hope) is that the fictional Dr Watson originally worked as an Army Doctor in the same Afghan campaign and met Sherlock Holmes only because, having been wounded, he was sent back to England to recuperate.
It is comforting to note that 110 years later, trouble no longer emanates from that area.
I have emailed Martin Gilbert via his website regarding any possible, traceable connections with Churchill.
I am hoping that Shute must have attended some of the demonstrations of DMWD weapons the Churchill also attended. Maybe we will finally unearth a photo of them having a pint at the pub after a bit of flame throwing.
I wrote to Sir Martin Gilbert and he replied promptly saying to his knowledge there was no Shute connection but he suggested writing to the Churchill librarian to see if Churchill had any Shute books. I will do this next.
This reminds me that during the war Churchill once sent a message back to his staff saying "Hornblower admirable". The staff, thinking that Hornblower was the codename for some secret project had a moment of panic because they could not find the files on the project before they discovered Churchill had been given a C.S. Forester Hornblower book and was just expressing his appreciation.


When he was a young child, Shute's family moved to 26 Corfton Road, Ealing, London W5 for a couple of years.
A search of the internet showed it may now be a beauty salon.
If someone is in London and has time could they take a photo of that building and send it to me for the online Photo Album?


Pat Oosthuizen an engineering professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in Canada has delivered a great paper on Shute at a recent Swedish conference.
The paper was called Using The Works Of Nevil Shute in Engineering Education.
You can read Patrick's paper at:
On the left hand side you will see a link where you can download the paper.


Tony Woodward of Ottawa, Canada writes:

I felt that I had to add a comment about re-reading. Personally I re-read NSN's books about every five years.
I was very struck by the mention of C.S. Forester and Dick Francis as other authors that bear frequent re-reading, because these are EXACTLY the two authors that I re-read just about as frequently as NSN. I might add R.F. Delderfield to this list.
I definitely hold to the old statement "Whenever a new book is published, I read an old one." I thought this was anonymous, although I've recently seen it attributed to Mark Twain.
One of my greatest disappointments about books like Shute's is that he makes the people so real that I come to regard them as family, and when the book ends I am so disappointed because I want to go on reading about them and know more.
The only book of Shute's that I don't really like is On the Beach. I think he was struggling to be topically relevant, and to me his characters somehow feel contrived and don't ring quite true. On my regular re-read of all the copies I have of NSN's books (I lost a few in a marriage settlement and I haven't yet acquired them all again) On the Beach is always the last one I turn to. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, I find the film of the book to be the least convincing too.
A year or so ago I was enquiring about films I thought I'd seen that were made from NSN novels. I am no further forward in tracing these than I was then. I really don't think I was dreaming, but NSN's novels are so evocative that in reading them I might just have assumed I'd seen them on the screen (cinema or TV). I originally mentioned 3 titles - Pastoral, Requiem for a Wren, and Ruined City. The "dreaming" theory may account for one or two of them. I will concede "Pastoral" but I still feel that I once saw the other two.
The films I saw were definitely post-1960 and probably I saw them in the mid 1970s, so NSN was no longer alive to dispute them himself. But I am still convinced I once saw them! It is so frustrating that I can find no evidence to prove it. As I said before I did once manage to find someone on the Net who agreed with me in thinking he had seen "Ruined City". Foolishly I've now lost him, so I can no longer even produce witnesses in my own defence! I suspect you may be able to begin to imagine how frustrated I am feeling, because if they actually exist then I want copies of them!! And so will the NSN Foundation!

Editor's Comment: Hollywood has been stealing ideas and reworking them since the beginning and I have no doubt that Shute has "influenced" them many times. One day we will trace a couple of these Shute like films. I feel sure they will surface eventually. Hollywood makes around 300 to 400 feature films or movies of the week every year and the 60s and 70s alone would account for up to 8000 films so it would not be surprising that some Shute-influenced films periodically rise to the surface on late night TV and then sink again without a trace. The film pool is really huge.


John Anderson writes:

A new Nevil Shute website has been launched at: to complement the Foundation website.
Although UK based it will have items of interest to Shutists everywhere. I would welcome ideas and suggestions as to what other information could be included on the site.
The Nevil Shute Discussion Board has also been revived and you will find the Discussion Board here.
It will work in much the same way as the old Discussion Board and is powered by the same software. I am moderating/administering the Board and will try to keep it up to date.

A Note from your Webmeister: John's Nevil Shute website is entirely his own. Any questions or comments about it should be directed to John, not to me. The Foundation has no control over or responsibility for anything that appears on


Neil Kermode who once lived in Bournemouth and now lives in Orkney, The UK, writes:

I was introduced to Nevil Shute's work by my mother in her desperate attempts to get me to read when I was at school. She has been a lifelong fan, and practically forced Most Secret into my hands..... It worked, and I am forever grateful to her for her persistence and to Mr Norway for his craftsmanship.
Being born, brought up and living in Bournemouth I was surrounded by the countryside of his world, and on a trip home I recently came across the attached. It is a 1938 photo of the Royal Bath Hotel, from the seaward side.
This is the hotel to which Janet Prentice went to see her father at his training for the Seaborne observer work, and where '... a sergeant of the local Home Guard arrived on the lawn outside the window carrying a Lewis gun. A wide circle of old men formed around him on the grass, as he proceeded to dismantle it and lecture them.....'
I don't know when NS visited the Royal Bath, but it doesn't look much different even now. If he was working from a pre-war memory then this is probably as close as we will get, and I thought it might be of interest.
Ironically 'Requiem' is my mother's favourite book, and I hadn't read it until I picked it up from a library. This too was a 'make the hairs stand up on your neck' moment. I had grabbed the book and stuffed it into my pack because I had recently arrived in Australia whilst backpacking. I had secured a job on a road survey crew, and was told to get on a train in Melbourne and I would be met at the station at a place called Ballarat. This all happened, and that night I pulled the book room my pack and settled down to read before sleep only to find the first chapters set in Ballarat! I hadn't even heard of the place the day before! To later find that the narrative flips to the New Forest and even my 'home town' was a very odd moment of connection across the globe!
Thanks again for the newsletters. I read them avidly and hope this minor contribution adds another piece to the jigsaw!
PS If anybody with a plane obsession is in the area then the Jet Heritage museum may be worth a look. This is out at Hurn Airport (Called Bournemouth Airport, but actually in the Borough of Christchurch). It has a Rapide in flying condition and a load of aviation related stuff, quite a lot of it from DH.

Editor's Comment: The photo of The Royal Bath Hotel will be included when I next update the website Photo Album.


The newsletter is late again because I was overseas in China and Indonesia this month.
I am now back in Sydney with its crisp, perfect Winter's days. The sky is a deep blue and the sun is wonderfully warm while the shadows are cold. The days are perfect for walking while the nights are cold and perfect for sleeping.
I have a new cat called Frannie. As I write this I can hear her causing some kind of havoc upstairs in my bedroom. At least she hasn't yet worked out how to play with matches.
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.