Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter December 2007


John Anderson ( writes:
'Flight Log', the description by Shute of his flight in his Proctor aircraft with James Riddell to Australia and backin 1948-49, was put together from letters and notes he wrote home. Copies have existed in the Lending Libraries for research purposes and in the original form were hard-to-read photocopies. With permission from Shute's Literary agents, the complete text has now been transcribed and annotated with maps of the journey and photographs. It is thus now available in easily readable form and copies are available for loan from the Shute Lending Libraries in the USA, UK and Australia.


John Anderson ( writes:
Andy Burgess and I spent a couple of productive days at the National Archives last week, focusing on the R.100. They have some of the engineering blueprints from its construction and masses of reports etc. The star find for me was the original Flying Log Book. Handwritten entries of weather, speed and course steered, position, notes of every flight the R.100 ever made. It really brought Nevil's Shute's Slide Rule account to life.

Editor's Comments: Photos from this archive search will eventually be on the website photo album.


The Canadian TV show, The Re-Inventors, has contacted the foundation for assistance in featuring Shute's Grand Panjandrum in the show. The Re-Inventors hosts take a look at old or interesting inventions and try to re-invent them. The show is now in post production. If any readers see the final show I am sure we all would enjoy a report. The Grand Panjandrum, and Shute as its primary instigator, has always come in for a certain amount of good-natured ridicule mainly because the failures of the tests were so spectacular and were recorded on film. English and Australian readers will recall that Dad's Army had an episode featuring their own Grand Panjandrum. Post War speculation has suggested that the Grand Panjandrum was really part of the ruse to convince the German's that the D-Day target was Calais where apparently, a working model would have been more useful than on the Normandy Beaches. However I have never heard this confirmed.


Our new webmaster, David Dawson Taylor, has recently placed my update of over 50 new photos on the combined Photo Timeline. New images cover newspaper clippings, a shot of Shute's father, Oxford University, deHavillands, R100, Airspeed, the real location of Ruined City, D-Day, the real people from The Seafarers, Fred Lindsley who was possibly a model for Tom Cutter and / or Connie Shak Lin, 5 photos from Shute's tour around The Australian Outback Gulf Country which resulted in A Town Like Alice and other items. These photos are spread throughout the album so start at the beginning and browse through. I would like to thank our past webmaster, Oren Wolfe, for his years of dedicated service to the foundation and to Shute fans everywhere.


Dan Telfair, El Supremo Emeritus, writes:
Those of you who attended the Centennial will remember a fourteen-year-old girl Shutist who assisted with movies, seminar schedules and other functions during the convention. Her name is Alix Vivier, and she is the daughter of Shutist friends here in Albuquerque. Her father was a Viet Nam era helicopter pilot. Alix wanted to be a pilot like her father, Nevil and so many Shutists at the Centennial. Over the next seven years, Alix finished high school, and earned her private pilot license, instrument rating, commercial pilot license, and flight instructor certificate. Last year, to help her along the way, she was awarded one of the Foundation flight training scholarships. Her aim was the next certification level - a rating as an Instrument Instructor. I am happy to report that she earned her instrument instructor rating last month. At twenty-three, she now has just about every airplane rating up to Air Transport Pilot - the one required to fly for the airlines. I imagine she will add that one to her list of qualifications in the not-too-distant future. Several days ago, I took an instrument refresher training flight with little Alix as my instructor, my first flight ever with her. She said I didn't do too bad for an old guy. High praise indeed! Some days are better than others.

Editor's Comment: The only thing missing from this story is confirmation that Little Alix was named after the young woman in An Old Captivity.


In spite of Shute's own written notes confirming Edgar Westbury as the principle model for Keith Stewart, speculation continues. Harold Luddit ( writes: I wondered if Keith was patterned after the A.A. Stewart as the model collection is in miniatures and A.A. was an engineer ?

Editor's Comment: I begin to see that there is no real answer to this one as even if Edgar Westbury is the main model there are links to all the other contenders.
Shute would have been well aware of LBSC (also known as Curly Lawrence) who was a Keith Stewart equivalent too and a hot contender.
Now AA Stewart appears on the scene. AA Stewart was an Australian model designer and collector whose designs were made and sold by the English model makers Stuart Turner. Does anyone else see a pattern ? As in full-scale engineering, it looks as if the Scots, particularly those named Stewart/Stuart dominated model engineering too. In Trustee, Keith Stewart is also a Scot. Of further interest in the naming of characters is the name Turner. Along with other theories aired in earlier newsletters, I added my theory regarding the naming of John Turner in The Chequer Board. I claimed that in English parlance a (fitter and) turner is a lathe operator and as such a useful person. John Turner became a useful person again before he died. Knowing Shute's fondness for lathes this seemed to fit. As we now know, the model engine he was working on when writing The Chequer Board was probably the Stewart Turner 800. I can't prove any of this but I now wouldn't be surprised if both John Turner and Keith Stewart weren't named after his Stewart Turner models.


Bob King ( writes
Gary Cline of Anacortes and I of Stanwood, Washington, are thinking of putting on a Shute Film Festival like the one recently in Missouri.  Is anyone in the area north of Seattle (50 miles here) interested in working with us?

Editor's Comment: Anyone interested should contact Bob directly on


I have had a flood of endorsements for Gadepalli's and Jim's comments on Shute's soothing effect.

Jim Woodward ( writes:
Laura Schneider and Jim Gadepalli Strike a Chord - Count me in! I feel that our 'paradise' can only be a state of mind these days with all the terrorist alerts and scare levels that we have to deal with. Reading a Shute Novel is one way to escape this insanity we now call life.
Addictions ? Yes. I am addicted to peace and quiet and a great book that helps me escape the madness of these days. 'On The Beach' came along (my awareness of it) during our 'Duck & Cover' nuclear scares of the 1950s and fit in with the insanity of those days. Now we get to deal with senseless terrorism - is there a terrorism that makes sense? Shute's works are addictive and the events of these days make them even more addictive and more of an escape. With all the addictive talk, I am surprised that some over-zealous nut-job here in the USA hasn't decided to regulate Shute's works but as they say, 'the day ain't over yet.' A previous NSN fan stated in an earlier Newsletter about 'On the Beach' and the city square where a daily revival (of sorts) was held in the final days and the banner said, 'There is still time brother!' Our minister used that as a theme for a sermon soon after the film was released and I have used that phrase (giving credit to NSN) in some talks that I have given at our church.

J.B. Robert ( writes:
I agree with Jim MacDougald's comments about the 'addiction' of the Shute novels that many of us have experienced but I'm not sure we, as a newsgroup, are so unique. I belong to many newsgroups in which the participants are extremely passionate about their subject. Several British authors that I enjoy also have a calming effect on me, Herriot and Dick Francis to name just a few (certainly NOT Lee Child). I think it's because their stories are about 'kindler and gentler' folks. And all of us seem to be inundated by the other sort lately.

Paul Spoff ( writes:
I've not even got a hint of a clue as to his narcotic effect on us. I know that with the exception of Requiem for a Wren/The Breaking Wave (Twice), I've read all of the master's works many many times. Requiem was and is a total downer for me and one that I shall not return to. I always say that Round the Bend is my favorite until I re read Alice or Kindling or Checquer, or The Far Country. Laugh, they are all my favorites, each and everyone of his books. There is a complete ability of Shute to pull us deeply into each story and the characters within. The common man raising above hardships and good triumphing over evil. I'm absolutely amazed and awestruck how when reading books that are fifty ands sixty years old, that they are so relevant to happenings in today's world. As in In The Wet, I'm positive a small corner of the veil was lifted for Shute and he was able to see into the future and pass his sightings on to us. We are so fortunate for him to have given us his wonderful gift of story telling.

Subrahmanyam None Gadepalli ( wrote:
I am thrilled to find that my addiction to Nevil Shute is not an isolated case, and there are umpteen fellow addicts. My their tribe increase ! I would put it this way. His use of words - though I find that he used the word 'PRESENTLY', which is not so commonly used by other authors, quite liberally, is the reason for this addiction (What are books but a collection of known words in a specific order, like the notes of musical compositions. He maintains 'Present tense' by telling the story as it unfolds rather than reporting it after the event. He prefers the first person use, wherever practical. Secondly, he is totally practical. Never philosophical or guessing. Even the minutest details are rendered quite truthfully. His pace, is like a meandering brook, rather than a torrent. It is the pace at which he unfolds the story, that may not appeal to the present generation of 'Fast food addicts'. Any way since there are no more books coming out, the only option left is to read whatever available over and over again.

Jayme Dandrade ( writes:
Further to Jim Macdougald's remarks about re-reading NSN. I did some arithmetic and find that I have been reading them for the past 57 years since I was a teenager and stumbled upon Pastoral circa 1950. I bought the complete Heron set in 1972 which I still have, and tend to complete a re-read every five to ten years. However I have to say that this compulsive re-reading also applies to Patrick O'Brian. His twenty novels set around the early nineteenth century Royal Navy are masterpieces of craftsmanship and his characters seem to live outside of the novels. The style and content of course is very different to NSN's but to my mind equally enjoyable. Re -reading both of these writers is a special treat and every occasion reveals more hidden depth and detail. There seems to be no end to the talent of these people.
I wonder if any other Shutists are O'Brian fans as well?

Editor's Comment: I have to admit to also being a Patrick O'Brian fan. If you feel you are overdoing your Shute addiction, Patrick O'Brian's 20 or so books make a great break before you return to Shute Nirvana again.


Jim Wells ( writes: Shutist Christine Wells of Sydney, Australia recently lost a dear relative living in Brisbane - Letty Katts - who had an interesting association with 'A Town Like Alice'. Her obituary said: 'Better known under her professional name Letty Katts, Violet Melick was a pioneer writer of Australian music. She was best known for two ballads, Never Never (1945) and A Town Like Alice (1956) ...
In 1956 her song "A Town Like Alice" was released by Albert's Publishing House to coincide with the Sydney premiere of the film of the same name starring Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna. ...(The song) went on to become the first all-Australian song (lyric and music) to top radio's hit parade at the time.'

Editor's Comment: Jim is trying to get the words of the song. I can remember hearing it on the radio. A search on iTunes reveals that you can buy a version of the song. On iTunes you can also buy an album of the music from the 1980 miniseries of A Town Like Alice.


Sydney is now hot and humid with wonderfully wild thunder storms and Christmas is fast approaching.
Although it is not now politically correct to say Merry Christmas, I feel safe from accusations of proselytising when I say it because I am not religious.
So I fearlessly wish you all a very merry Christmas holiday and a Happy New Year whatever your personal beliefs.
(I hope the police don't come for me before we have the Christmas pudding with custard AND ice cream) If I can remember the moveable dates I hope to equally also wish all of you Happy Hanukah, Happy Diwali, Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Ramadan etc etc etc.
From finding it a stressful time when I was younger, I have come to really love Christmas. It's a great holiday and whether celebrated religiously or not, who could complain about a holiday season where people are encouraged to be nice to each other.
With all my travelling I am fascinated to see how popular Christmas is in essentially non-Christian places like China. The popularity might be more related to the selling of presents but even with its commercial side it is a fun time.
As it is Summer in Australia at Christmas, my wife and I usually celebrate Christmas with an early swim at Bronte Beach and then a Christmas waifs breakfast at home with several single friends and our 3 cats.
This year we are then off to a big Christmas lunch with some friends who have children and a backyard swimming pool.
We traditionally eat fresh King Prawns (Giant Shrimp) at Christmas which is fairly dumb as so does everyone else and the prices jump from $35- a kilo (US$13.60 per pound / £15- per kilo) to $60- a kilo (US$23.30 per pound / £25.86 per kilo) at Christmas. This is one reason it's called the Silly Season. Have a great holiday time and don't forget to buy someone a Shute book for Christmas.


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
Chris & Penny Morton live in Tasmania.


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam lives in Vizianagaram


Richard Wynn lives in Cinderford , Gloucestershire.


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
Bill McCandlesslives 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.
Robert J Price Cottonwood, California, near Redding.

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 at David Dawson-Taylor