Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

December Newsletter

2006-12/December, 2006


Rob Laurent writes:

I've got a first Australian edition of Most Secret with an inscription by the author reading: "For Arthur Wordsworth with thanks for so much help, at Cairns, from Nevil Shute Norway. January 1949."
I wonder if anyone knows what the connection was with Arthur Wordsworth?

Editor's Comment: I think it might be quite reasonable to assume that this is one of the copies of his novels that Shute took with him in Item Willie on his flight to Australia. In Shute's Flight Log he explains that he took them as gifts. If so, it is a book of real interest having travelled across the world with him on the trip that directly resulted in A Town Like Alice and Round the Bend especially as it is also signed.
So far we have discovered that an Arthur Allan Wordsworth was born in 1911, making him 37 in 1948.
Rob is now chasing Queensland Historical Societies in search of more information on Arthur Wordsworth. Perhaps his family have photos of Arthur and Shute?


Bev Clarke, the daughter of Dr. Marcus Clarke, whom Shute met in Cairns in 1948, has been travelling but has promised to forward photos from his collection in December. I will update you on this in the January newsletter.


Mike Beaird writes:

I first read his works in the mid-1960s while an undergraduate student at the University of Texas (Austin).
At the time a starving student, I read all the titles in the school's library. Later I began collecting them.
In late 1970, or early 1971, I became aware of the set of red-bound, ribbon-book-marked, distributed by Heron Books. I remember calling them the "Shute-a-month" book club. I got the first eight or ten, at the price of about $8 each, but when I started law school at the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 1971, I thought I could not afford them so I cancelled my subscription. What a mistake that was. My first wife was well employed during those student years, and I could have kept alive the subscription, but at the time I felt some guilt for not having an income.
Many years later (around 30) my second wife found a complete set on Ebay, for sale by a Canadian woman who had inherited them from her Mother. Needless to say I was thrilled when she presented them to me for a combined birthday (Dec 5) and Christmas present and have enjoyed them very much.
My brother Lynn Beaird, like me, was a 'Shutist' and also had found a complete set. We had not known about each other's fascination with NS, and only discovered it when I happened to notice his set, while visiting him. He also subscribed to the newsletter, and he attended the Shute meeting in Albuquerque. Unfortunately he passed away this past June from the ravages of life-long cigarette smoking, at age 69.

Editor's Comment: I really like the idea of two brothers who are both collecting Nevil Shute unbeknownst to each other. It sounds like the first pages of a mystery thriller.
I wonder if anyone has done any of those separated-identical-twin tests in regards to Shute reading and collecting to see if liking Shute is genetic?


Nick Newell writes:

I've recently rediscovered Nevil Shute when in conversation a couple of months ago my Mother mentioned that my father F.N.Newell knew Nevil Shute Norway. Most recently Mum gave me a copy of Slide Rule. I remember my father telling me of a friend of his who survived the R101 crash. I don't know the man's name.
I believe it was one of his teachers who told him of his survival of the crash.
His teacher described standing in one of the cars of the R101 with a friend. They could see the disaster unfolding - I gather it was rather a slow speed crash into the hillside. The teacher, I don't know his name, turned to his friend and shaking hands said "Well this is it I expect".
Then he fell through the floor of the car.
The fall was not so great to injure him and he managed to run away. His friend didn't survive the crash.
Amazing since they were so close together.
Dad told me his teacher's story when I was I was in my teens. I'm now fifty-three and Dad passed away in 1970. My father F.N.Newell was an aircraft designer who knew Nevil Shute Norway.
They must have been at least twenty years apart in age.
My father was also an aircraft engineer in England and later worked for Canadair in Montreal.
Dad passed away in the late seventies and I've found by reading Nevil Shute's books a way to reconnect with him.
Incidentally my family used to vacation in Cape Cod for many years in the 50's and 60's. I noted you had a convention there as it was one of Nevil's favorite places. I now wonder if my Father was influenced by Nevil to go there.
Not much of an account but it's been a long time. Any idea who 'the teacher' might have been?

Editor's Comment: Nick's father's teacher's story is the same as one I read in an account of the R101 crash but I can't place where yet. Does anyone else recognize it?
Coincidentally to Nick's R101 reference, Julian Stargardt of Hong Kong wrote this month to remind readers of The Airship Heritage Trust's excellent and constantly updated website at:
Here you will find a lot on R100, R101 and other airships.


Some readers are still receiving the newsletter in a font reportedly as small as 6 point, which is very tiny, almost microscopic. This is probably a font size designed for mice.
If anyone understands this problem can they write to me?
I am composing in MS Word for Mac on a Mac Powerbook G4 and sending it out as Arial 10pt through MS Entourage for Mac.
I am assuming the receivers with font-size problems are using PCs with some conflicting software but I have no overall information on their systems or email programs.


John Page writes:

Stumbled across this in my web browsing this morning. Immediately brought to mind TFTTR and Shute's racing days. I think he would have loved this:


In response to a number of requests from readers to find fellow Shutists in their local areas, we have initiated a Shutist/Location data base.
David Dawson-Taylor, Board Member and UK Librarian, will create and manage the data base.
To the extent we have the information, the data base will include names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
All this information is stored in a single computer, and is password protected.
The system will work as follows:

If a Shutist requests information on other Shutists in his or her local area, David will do one of two things.
He will send a letter to Shutists in that area informing them of the request, and asking if their names and e-addresses may be provided to the person requesting them.
Alternatively, if the requester sends him a letter announcing intent to form a reading club, or whatever (assuming it is strictly Shute-related), David may just forward the letter to the Shutists in that area and let them decide if they wish to respond.

The information in the data base will not be used for any purpose other than forwarding mail that has already been checked for content (no attachments), without the express permission of the Shutist to whom the information pertains.
To assist in the creation of the data base, all readers who wish to have their information included should write to David at: It is not necessary to provide all the information that may be listed for a Shutist in the data base. However, each letter should contain the Shutist's name, general location, and e-mail address.
The data base is already up and running, although far from complete.
Anyone wishing to contact Shutists in their local area should write to David at:


Dan Telfair received an email from the Discalced Carmelite Nuns many of whom are ardent Shute fans.
The order has an interesting website. See it at


The Discussion Board on John Anderson's website is again active.
Due to an outbreak of spam postings, John has had to make it for registered users only.
Several users have already signed up and posted questions and comments. Anyone wanting to register can just email John at
and he will email them a user name and password.
In addition to discussion on novels, characters etc there will be updates on events and gatherings.
The Dicussion Board is at
It is well worth taking a look at the Board from time to time to see what is being discussed.


Laura Schneider writes:

Registration for the 5th Biennial Nevil Shute Norway Conference to be held April 22-27, 2007 in Alice Springs, AU is in full swing!
You can register by going to the web site,
We have just confirmed that the dedication ceremony for the Nevil Shute Memorial Garden located at the Alice Springs Public Library will be held during our Conference. The Library Manager has done a bonza job!
If you have any questions about the Conference or Registration, please contact me at


It is now blazing Summer in Australia and global warming and climate change are always in the news.
I recently read Michael Crichtion's enjoyable book State of Fear. (2004)
In it Crichton makes some interesting points about the current level of media-fed non-scientifically-based hysteria on global warming and climate change.
As usual the book is a blend of a deeply researched scientific treatise mixed with a very basic thriller. It is the only thriller I have read with a bibliography of scientific reports at the end that runs into scores of pages and is in itself a fascinating read.
I am now reading John Buchan's Greenmantle (1916). Shute loved John Buchan and the earliest Shutes are in many ways pure Buchan but Shute soon veered away into his own more relaxed style.
As the next newsletter comes out in early 2007 let me wish you all Happy Holidays.
I just love this time of the year.
Richard Michalak


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
Ruth Pearson lives in Adelaide
Neil Wynes Morse lives in Canberra


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
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan (northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac)
David B. Horvath, dhorvath in the domain, near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia