Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter - October 2007


Tom Wenham of The UK writes:
I am presently reading "Long Sunset", the autobiography of Anthony Montague Browne, who was Winston Churchill's Private Secretary (the capitals denote that it was an official Government appointment) from 1952 until WSC's death in 1965.
Writing about the time of the Bermuda conference in December 1953, Browne recalls that President Eisenhower warned that if the North Koreans resumed their offensive against the South, he would authorise the use of atomic weapons.
WSC agreed to this course, seemingly sharing Eisenhower's view that nuclear development was only a further extension of conventional warfare, a conclusion that was very different from his often expressed conviction that "a whole new dimension and philosophy of conflict now glared upon the world".
WSC was apparently totally concerned with avoiding the final horror of a nuclear war, while still maintaining his confidence in the weapon as a deterrent, if only people knew what its use would entail.
He had read with fascination Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" and wished it could be translated into as many languages as possible, especially the Slav tongues, and sent to the world leaders with his personal appeal that they should read it.
On a slightly different tack, Browne later recounts that WSC had a fondness for expounding on various themes which he did not seriously wish to put into practice. He once suggested a new electoral system where everyone of age would have a vote. Those with a wife and children would have a second to reflect their greater responsibility and more of a stake in the country. A householder would have another, an employer of a certain number of employees another, a man with a university degree or high professional qualification another, one who had served his country and been decorated for it another.
I wonder where he got that idea ?

Editor's Comment: At last !


David Dawson-Taylor of The UK writes:
Over the weekend of 22-23 September 2007, seven Shutists met in Oxford for the purposes of:

  1. A de-briefing of Alice Springs 2007.
  2. Planning the outline format and location of the UK gathering in 2009.
  3. Considering the best ways of implementing the actual and virtual Shute museums.
Micro Meeting in Oxford

In addition to John Anderson (who organised the meeting), Andy Burgess, Philip Nixon, Alison Jenner, and David and Kate Dawson-Taylor, Laura Schneider flew from USA especially to give us the benefit of her experiences from Alice Springs and to visit the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington to discuss the possibility of Nevil Shute exhibition.

We were also privileged to visit the Dragon school, where Miss Gay Sturt arranged for us to see Nevil Shute's sextant (as well as his astrolabe) which had recently been refurbished.


Dan Telfair writes:
A film festival was held at the Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), in Joplin, Missouri, on September 20-22, 2007.
Four films were shown, with Landfall on Thursday evening, No Highway on Friday evening, and a double feature Saturday evening showing the original A Town Like Alice, followed by the original On The Beach.
There were approximately twenty viewers Thursday and Friday evenings, and thirty Saturday evening.
The NSN Foundation was represented by US Librarian Susan Batross, Oklahoma Shutists Tony and Carol Cable, and myself.
The film festival was the brainchild of MSSU Alumnus Nathan Kubicek, who had been introduced to Nevil's writing by Dr. Tom Simpson, a Political Science Professor at MSSU. Nathan had never seen any of the films before, and Dr. Simpson had only seen On The Beach.
For most of the viewers, all four films were new.
Nathan Kubicek and Dr. Tom Simpson are being sent copies of The Seafarers as a small reward for their efforts. They will also receive a DVD of the A Town Like Alice miniseries for their use in promoting interest in Nevil Shute at MSSU.
As a minimum, Nathan and Dr. Simpson plan to start a local Nevil Shute Book Club, and Dr. Simpson is trying to persuade Nathan to do a doctoral dissertation on Nevil Shute.
A heartfelt "Good On Yer" to both!


On the basis that Shute dealt with science and research in No Highway, I thought I would share this item from Wikipedia about the early days of Radio / Wireless with you.
Hertz, who was conducting very early experiments on electromagnetic theory, found he could detect radio waves about 20 metres from the transmitter in his laboratory.
He did not try to transmit further because he just wanted to prove electromagnetic theory, not to develop wireless communications. Hertz was uninterested in the practical importance of his experiments.
He stated that "It's of no use whatsoever ... "
Asked about the ramifications of his discoveries, Hertz replied, "Nothing, I guess."
Hertz also stated, "I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application."


NJ/PA/NY Chapter of the Nevil Shute Society Book Group will meet in New Jersey on Sunday, October 14. If you are interested in attending, please contact me at LauraSchneider and I'll provide the details. We'll be discussing Trustee From the Toolroom and if it is an Indian Summer day, we'll be outside.


Simon Allen of The UK writes:
I reply to the views of Cedric in the September newsletter, regarding the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
Whilst it may be said that there are some similarities with No Highway, in that engineers were warning management and management were ignoring them, I suggest that there is no more than a basic congruence.
No Highway was about new materials being used before they were properly tested and understood, and that story continues in our everyday lives.
The problem in America is the prevailing view that you do not fix anything until it is broken. In the UK we have also had this problem with under funding of public transport resulting in The Kings Cross Station fire in 1987 and other events since then.
I have seen this attitude in regular commerce for the past twenty years. It goes like this:

  1. Cut maintenance budgets to save money. Manager gains approval.
  2. Staff warn of risks. Manager ignores. No action.
  3. Item fails and money is lost. Manager hurriedly fixes problem by spending lots of money and creating a big fandango to show that he is on the ball and ensures that no one above knows that he failed in his primary role. That is, to Manage. He gains approval.
  4. Eventually, staff get so fed up that they leave and new ones come in and the cycle starts again.


Laura Schneider writes:
An mp3 CD with all the recordings from the Conference is now available.
The disc has over 17 hours of material with all the Presentations, Discussion, Speeches etc. Following the precedent from previous Conferences these are for sale, with proceeds going to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation.
Prices are:- $130 US, £15 GB, €22, $ 36 Australian (Prices include postage)
To order a CD from the USA or Australia e mail (Laura Schneider) with the Subject=Legacy CD
To order from the UK or Europe e mail (John Anderson Subject=Legacy CD order
Let us know how many copies you would like, your postal address, and we will indicate the method of payment.


Bill Hill of Arizona, USA writes
I have discovered a small trove of Shute books in one of our local used bookstores. Unfortunately, I already have all of the titles that they have. I wonder if it would be worthwhile sending you (or whomever) a list of what they have.
Two in particular caught my eye. They have a pristine copy of Breaking Wave with dustjacket, and a paperback copy of The Legacy.

Editor's Comment: Please contact Bill directly if you are interested.


Sally Chetwynd may soon reveal who was the real Dwight Schafter. Sally writes:
A friend of mine (another Shute fan who has been writing aviation novels in a similar vein - none yet published - as well as Viet Nam era stories based on his own experiences as a civilian liaison) believes that a soldier-of-fortune-style aviation friend of his (now deceased, who was also a friend of Shute"s) was the inspiration for an American character in Round The Bend. It would be of interest to the members of this forum to know more details about this man and his relationship to Shute. I"ll see what I can glean.

Editor's Comment: This sounds like a great lead. The name Dwight Schafter in Round The Bend is a name revival from an earlier short story called Air Circus published in 1937. Shute obviously liked the name Dwight because he used it 3 times; Dwight Shafter in Air Circus and then Round The Bend and later Dwight Towers in On The Beach. I am sure Shute liked it because it is part of that group of distinctly American names. I think you would be hard pressed to find an Englishman or Australian in the early to mid 20th Century called Dwight.


Some time back I mentioned that we need a photo of 23 Oakwood Court Kensington W14 8JU in London, which was Shute's family home in 1918-19.
The response was overwhelming.
I was overwhelmed by getting no responses at all.
It"s amazing that no-one wanted immortality in the form of a photo credit in the Nevil Shute Photo Album.
Arthur Norway's letters about Nevil's admission to Balliol were addressed from there and also one of Nevil's letters to Balliol when he was on leave.
The street is close to Kensington Olympia station.

You can see and print a map by clicking here:

The arrow points to Oakwood Court in the centre square of the map.


A letter in the last issue suggested that Fred Lindlsey might have been a model for Keith Stewart.
This assertion stimulated several strong emails suggesting Keith Stewart was possibly modelled on model engineering writers Lillian "Curly" Lawrence (known as LBSC) and / or Edgar Westbury. Doubtless Shute knew of them both. However, research into Shute"s notes for Trustee confirms that Keith Stewart was specifically modelled after Edgar Westbury who Shute mentions by name.
Both LBSC and Edgar Westbury were prolific and very popular model designers. If you google them there is quite a bit of interesting reading.


Jim MacDougald has written a late entry for The Airspeed Ashtray Awful Newsletter Headline Competition. Jim writes:
Airspeed Ashtray: Beyond the Black Stub.

Editor's Comment: Wonderfully dreadful. I have also had suggestions of What Happened to the CorBUTTS and Pied Pipe.


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam of India writes:
Dear fellow Shutists,
It will be my pleasure hearing from fellow Shutists.
I am from India and an avid fan of Nevil Shute.
I must have read his 'Town Like Alice' at least 50 times, if not more. I never get bored at all.
When my spirits are down, there is no better tonic than this wonderful book.
When I ask some of the new generation about Nevil Shute, the stock answer is "Never Heard of Him'. Apparently, Nevil Shute needs a resurrection.
Perhaps each of us should write an article on his works, so that interest in his evergreen books is rekindled.


Richard Wynn of The UK writes:
How come there are no U.K. @ddresses at the bottom? Maybe if I offer mine, it will be a start!

Editor's Comment: The issue of contacting other Shutists keeps coming up.
There is the list at the end of the newsletter but there is also another way.
See the letter below.


David Dawson-Taylor of The UK writes:
The Foundation maintains a password protected database of Shute enthusiasts world-wide who have expressed an interest in having their names, emails and locations recorded so that they may be put in touch with others of like mind.
If anyone would like to be included in this listing, please forward your details to our UK librarian, David Dawson-Taylor, at

Editor's Comment: I will maintain the list at the bottom of the newsletter for the moment but I would encourage anyone who is interested in meeting other Shutists to use the database.
Those who are already on the bottom of the newsletter should also contact the database to have their names added.


William Laing and and I visited a farm outside Brisbane in Queensland, Australia this month and spent 2 days going through a tiny percentage of Pauline Allen (Jimmy Edwards daughter)"s paperwork and photos regarding her extraordinary father Jimmy.
Jimmy Edwards was the man that Shute based Joe Harman"s character on in A Town like Alice.
I believe we managed to scan sufficient items to enhance our knowledge of Shute and also to create an informative web page for Jimmy Edwards on our website. However it will take considerable time to go through the material and condense the information.
No further photos of Shute have surfaced but we have quite a few letters that fill some gaps in our knowledge of Shute and continue to enhance our already high opinion of him.
William and I had to rough while we worked as Pauline was too busy to provide us with any more than a full breakfast, a full morning tea and scones, late morning coffee, a full lunch, a full afternoon tea and scones, later afternoon tea or coffee, a full dinner and dessert on her verandah with wines and beer and coffee or tea, evening coffee or tea and then supper if we were still hungry.
In spite of the hardship, we managed to struggle on with our Shute research, usually after we had a little nap.
Pauline had already narrowed down some of the material relating to her father, Nevil Shute and the stories that relate to A Town Like Alice. William and I went through the material and decided what to scan into my computer and then I spent the rest of the 2 days scanning.
William Laing found some binoculars at Pauline"s and we discovered that by looking at distant animals we could avoid work for hours.
I would be just restarting work after a post-afternoon-tea nap when William would say: "Holy Mackerel, look at that big cow !".
"Where ?" I would shout and dash over and dance from foot to foot waiting for my turn to grab the binoculars. We would then spend hours scanning the far horizon for even larger cows.
When we had exhausted eating and binocular-assisted-giant-cow-spotting as means of research work avoidance, Pauline suggested that we do as some country people occasionally did and actually go outside. Being indoor urban types, William and I were alarmed and looked anxiously at each other. We hadn't considered this as an option and had to be convinced that it was safe out there with all that mega fauna about but Pauline fearlessly led the way.
Clutching each other and mouthing hollow sounding and excessively carefree banter we followed her out. Outside, we saw 2 animals that were either 2 large goats, 2 cows or 2 camels. At least we did agree there were 2 of them and that they looked pretty scary.
In spite of these distractions we did actually get some research done and I suspect that Pauline's family would have to have more documents and more photographs than any other Australian family. Pauline says that as well as family snaps, they had constant visitors who then photographed the family and events and then sent them copies.
The documents fill somewhere up to a dozen large moving boxes.
So far no definitive book has been written on Jimmy Edwards although dozens of articles have been written.
Anyone wishing to do PhD research on the Edwards family and their place in and relative to Australian Culture and Mythology would find a goldmine subject here.


Some may note that, with only 2 years to go, nothing regarding the supply of tea and scones for the 2009 meeting is on the formal agenda of the recent planning meeting mentioned in the newsletter.
Such would-be panic merchants are ignoring the obvious conclusion that I have come to that the team members merely forgot to mention that they are scheduling an urgent and separate executive subcommittee to discuss this issue in greater depth.
The subcommittee may well consider if it has now become necessary to import the tea and scones from Australia.
Consistent with our undiminished loyalty and enthusiasm for a Mother Country that has now abandoned her Empire and its values for the coffee and croissant fleshpots of the EU, Australia has preserved its imperial tea and scone making skills in a manner that would still satisfy Queen Victoria.
So, casting aside our feelings of bitterness at Britain"s overly-hasty post war abandonment of her loyal colonies, Australia will be there in Britain"s hour of need and will either supply the scones, or attack The Dardanelles, or do both at the same time, as required.
If you are like me, which for your sake I hope is not the case, you have probably avoided the video posting website Youtube like the plague. Watching other people"s really bad home movies is hardly my idea of fun.
However, I have recently discovered that there are many other things on Youtube. If you go to Youtube ( and search for The Nicholas Brothers or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers you can watch fabulous dance clips from their movies and even watch all of Top Hat in 10 parts.
These may breach copyright and be removed at any time so have a look while they are there.
You can also find old music clips from any era from Glenn Miller, Fats Waller and earlier etc to the present. There is a fabulous and rare clip of George Gershwin playing I Got Rhythm at lightning speed. Call me crazy but I think he had talent.
So type in whatever you think of and see what comes up. For example, I saw that there are some of Churchill"s speeches on there too.
Sadly the only Nevil Shute items are part of one talking book and an excerpt of the last 4 minutes of the spectacularly dreadful and heretical recent miniseries of On The Beach.
The weather in Sydney is now well into Spring.
I hope you are all well.
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
James Fricker lives in Melbourne.


Julian Stargardt


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok

United Kigdom

Richard Wynn lives in Cinderford , Gloucestershire in The UK.


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 near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia
Jim Magruder, near Salem, Oregon
Jack Harper Evergreen, Colorado
Fred Depkin Palm City, Florida
Jim MacDougald St. Petersburg, Florida,
Jim Cavanaugh Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island, and Seattle, Washington.