Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter April 2017

Letters to the Editor

FROM John Marsden

It was nice to see Alison Jenner commended for her work in selecting the most suitable pub in Chalgrove… I'd like it to be known that I'm always available for onerous tasks like this, and am prepared to travel considerable distances if required. All in the cause of literature…

Editor: John lives in Melbourne

I've been surprised over the years that I've never noticed any reference in the newsletter to David Beaty's books, although I'd be pretty certain there have been! Beaty is the only writer I've found who can be compared to Shute… thanks to his own distinguished career in the RAF and BOAC, he had the intimate knowledge of aviation that helped make both these writers so effective. When I was a kid in school, thumbing through a boring anthology we'd been given, I found an extract from Beaty's book The Cone of Silence, and it thrilled me so much I went out and found the novel. It did not disappoint. I haven't read all Beaty's books, but the ones I have read are about commercial aviation, and pilots under stress in dramatic situations. They are extremely well written, genuine edge of the seat novels combining human drama and technical information with the same balance and insight Shute brought to his work.

I haven't read his non-fiction book about pilot psychology and pilot error, The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents, (1969), but I believe that it came to be regarded as a seminal text, after first being reviled by the people it was designed to help – aviation executives and pilots!

By the way, I still have fond memories of my visit to the Shute conference in Frankston, Australia, years ago – it was a terrific day.


FROM Eunice Shanahan

Hello everyone,

I really enjoyed the March Newsletter with so many comments on it.  I was particularly pleased to read about the Oxford visit using “Pastoral”  as the lynch pin.   I have this on my e-reader for train journeys and started reading it last week for the first time for about 20 years, and had forgotten what an enjoyable story it is.  It seems to me that he has such an understanding of the way people react to one another, and this makes a basis for that story.   The books are all different,  and I see that group is going to follow “Most Secret” at their next meeting.  Even though they are both WWII stories, they are still individual, and I will probably read that one next, which I probably would not have done, as it is not one of my favourites.

I think my top five would be

An Old Captivity

The Far Country

Trustee from the Toolroom

The Chequerboard

Ruined City (probably a close tie for 5th would be Rainbow and the Rose).

Best wishes from a slightly cooler Queensland, Australia 

Regarding Tony Woodward

I can’t put forward a reasoned argument, and I have read no biographies of NSN apart from his own Slide Rule.  But did NSN have sleep problems?  Taking pills in order to sleep, or having problems sleeping, or waking up tired, figure in many of his earlier novels, especially in An Old Captivity, but I have noticed them in other early novels as I re-read through them after my usual five years hiatus. I can’t quote chapter and verse as I didn’t take note.  Bad research! Does anyone have any views on this?  Just thought this might be a productive thread.

FROM Richard Michalak
I understand he only slept about 3 hours a night, at least when he was young.
Yes, sleep and sleep drugs are a recurrent theme.

FROM Gadepalli Subrahmanyam

Many a time, when a famous Artist/author etc., leaves the world, everyone says "It is impossible to replace him/her. None could come anywhere near him/her" In a few years, we see or hear some one, who could even excel. 

My point was to keep the memory of Nevil Shute alive. I keep on telling a new acquaintance, to start reading him. Some said that his beginning of he novel was so prosaic, and it took quite some time to get the hang of it. I tell them, "You have to de-skin a fruit, before you come to the juicy part. Read on,and you would become a fan". But I find it difficult. That is the reason I suggested about sequels. Well some one could make a beginning. And, I am not aware of copyright etc. May be I will have to wait. But then I will be 90, if alive, and definitely, I can only enjoy Nevil Shute, but cannot copy him. If some one does, and If i am alive then  ….


FROM Dan Telfair 

Greetings Fellow Shutists:

All good things must come to an end.  Zia and I are selling our home and moving into a senior community nearby.  It will be a welcome change, but will also require considerable downsizing, including the elimination of a large part of my Nevil Shute holdings.  I have a hundred or so paperbacks, representing just about all titles, that are free to good homes.  Let me know if anyone needs anything, in any quantity, and they will be yours for the cost of postage.

I have sixty odd hardbounds representing most titles - some in like new condition - $2.00 USD a piece plus postage.  These include a few Shute-related books such as The Millionth Chance, The Secret War, The Airmen Who Would Not Die, etc.  I also have a complete set of Herons - which I believe last sold for @$400 for the set, which I will happily sell for $100 plus postage.  Lastly, I have an extra Cassel first edition of Marazan, which I unwisely paid $500 for back before any more were known to exist.  It is a mediocre condition ex-library copy of no great distinction.   I will sell that for $200 plus postage or for the best offer, more or less, I can get.  The first person who is seriously interested in this one will have it.

If anyone is interested in either the freebies or the items offered for sale, please contact me by e-mail, or by telephone at US 505-856-6774.


Dan Telfair

Founder and Ex Grand Poobah

The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation  


Last week Sunday we had the first meeting of the Nevil Shute Bookclub NL. Four of us met in the restaurant of the Dutch Military Museum, af the former airbase Soesterberg. If you are interested in anything military, and you are in the Netherlands, this museum is a must. It covers all things military from very long ago, until nowadays from the Army, Navy and Airforce. Check it out at:

We had a good time. We wanted to discuss Pastoral, but didn’t come to that. We just talked about Nevil Shute and his books in general, and got to know each other. The next meeting will be in September or October.To see us at the museum, check:

It finally is spring in the Netherlands, and we are enjoying it very much.

See you all next month.