Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated April 2013

Letters to the Editor

FROM Chris & Penny Morton

Plans for TAS 2013, "The Rainbow Connection" are well in hand. John Anderson has done an excellent job, preparing the webpage with the proposed schedule of activities for the week. An FAQ section of the website will be available, to answer many questions.

A recent issue of Tasmania's leading artistic/literary magazine, Forty Degrees South, had a letter to the editor which seems relevant to prospective Shute delegates. A reader from Suffolk in the U.K., a frequent visitor to this state over the past fifteen years, says (in part),

"...magnificent scenery and wildlife...I know more Tasmanians than people back here in Suffolk where I have lived for 40 years...what is it about Tasmania...small state with a close-knit population...a refreshing, liberating lack of class barriers...a truly fascinating, vibrant place with creative people who believe in both the present and the future...making it happen...I find common purpose with these down-to-earth, sky-high idealists, dreamers who are prepared to fight with brain and brawn, wisdom and bloody hard work to save their precious environmental inheritance, whilst making a better tomorrow fervent desire is to be granted the freedom to return to this fragment of Eden.quot;

Maybe this visitor's unsolicited words will entice Shutists to join us in October, for a stimulating week.

Till next time,


PS. if anyone has NS artefacts that they are willing to bring along to display at the conference in October for all to see, please contact Tommy and Polly Thomas ( or on Facebook).

FROM David Henshall

Following the recent illustrated talk "Beyond the Black Rock" I gave at Hayling Island, more "new news" has continued to come in.

The latest concerns a painting that was done at Langstone (an area just to the North of Hayling - Shute lived there for a while after moving out of Southsea) of Shute drinking in the Royal Oak public house. This painting had been hung in a Hayling House until a messy divorce saw it sold. I'm now chasing this down;-

Was this ever photographed or copied ?

If so - can it be copied again ?

If not, can I track down the original ?

Now the picture itself is a story, but of greater interest is the way in which Shute once again showed the "magpie" side of his literary nature ! The picture was painted by a displaced Pole and was traded for services rendered ! (a storyline that Shute then recreated in "The Far Country" with a Polish painter who paints the picture of Jennifer Morton, as well as a landscape of the river to hang in the homestead).

I'm sure that more information will come in - if all goes to plan I'll be speaking about Shute and the Solent sometime this spring on the BBC (Radio Solent) - I'll let you know the when and how it can be listened to via the web

FROM Keith Minton

I am busy enjoying yet again Nevil Shute's lesser known but excellent novel Ruined City which is set in the North East where I have lived since 1973.

There are various reasons I have always liked this novel even before I came up here for the first time in 1972 aged 31, eight years younger than Shute when he wrote Ruined City in 1938, and he was still an idealist, even though an idealist with reservations…

First it is an interesting mix of real with phantasy, and there is the "Ruined City" Sharples based clearly on Ashington which is half real and half phantasy.

But Shute fleshes out his narrative with references to actual places in the North East, Newcastle, Wallsend, Sunderland for example, and at the beginning, Henry Warren, fugitive merchant banker from London, passes through Corbridge, Carlisle and Bellingham, all places I know and have always liked.

These are in stark contrast to Laevatia the mythical corrupt Balkans country, loosely related perhaps to Transylvania a part of Bohemia.

The thesis of this not very long novel is this: in order to get done something important to you, you will have at times to go to the very fringes of the law if not break it altogether. This is a feature in many of Shute's novels and it is one I respect 100%, being of a kicking against the traces nature myself.

FROM David Henshall

I was recently giving a talk on a completely unconnected topic (at the RYA National Dinghy Show) when, in conversation, I let slip that I'd be talking on Nevil Shute the following week. I was then approached by a gentleman who'd sailed on Runagate as far down as Gibralter. Of course I was more than interested, he's left me his details and is (I hope) trying to dig out some pictures for me.

The other little "gem" hails from So Disdained and again shows how Shute was far happier writing about "real" locations - almost as though in his early books he didn't trust his own creativity.

In the air action scene, when the second spy plane appears over Portsmouth entrance, planes are sent up from the airfield at Gosport. After a brief chase around the Solent, the spy plane is shot down between Lee (on the Solent - a large aerodrome) and Hamble. Now this is interesting, as what Shute is talking about is Hamble - the river, rather than Hamble - the village. We can establish this as Shute had been staying at the Rising Sun (today a gastro-pub) but this is at Warsash - on the eastern bank of the river just across from Hamble.

Now if you head just a little further east - heading back towards Lee, there are indeed a number of large, flat and open fields, some of them very large and well big enough for a fighter of the day to land in - even in the dark.

I can assure Shutists that this is a great deal more behind this story - I'm still researching hard - but it certainly throws a new light on some of Shute's involvements at this time !

FROM Philip Nixon

I am pleased to announce that we have a date and venue for our group to come together and discuss "Pastoral".

Nevil Shute's Oxford alma mater, Balliol College, is hosting us in their Historic Collections Centre at St Cross Church. The centre houses the College's archives, medieval manuscript collection, modern papers, and many early printed books. Our hosts are kindly arranging to display for us their NSN archive material, such as his admission papers. We can thank John Anderson for catalyzing this event at Balliol.

More details about the exact location will follow.

The date is Thursday 16th May at 2pm.


Today is the first day of this year, with real spring weather. Last week, we still had snow. Lets hope that that is over now, and that spring will really start.

See you all next month.