Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter December 2016

Letters to the Editor

FROM Laura Schneider

Attention New Englanders (and all who wish to join us!)

The Dartmouth (US) chapter of the Nevil Shute Book Society is having our 4th annual holiday viewing celebration this Saturday, December 3. We are watching the mini-series, A Town Like Alice.

This tradition began the year the group was born. It was a huge hit so it became an annual event. We visit an old friend who officially kicks off the holiday season. It doesn't get any better than this!!

We meet at our local library, where they have several meeting rooms. The largest has comfortable chairs, plenty of space and a full kitchen. Our members always bring great treats for our monthly meetings and truly outdo themselves for this marathon session.

Because of the length of the miniseries (5 hours), we meet at 10:00am. At the completion of each disc, we refresh, relieve and review. Lunch is when we want it and food and drink will be available throughout the day.

The only thing required of everyone is to have a good time. Wear comfy clothes. 

As always, our meeting is free and open to everyone. Invite your friends and family. The more, the merrier!

Questions? Please contact me.


FROM Philip Nixon

The next meeting of the Nevil Shute Book Club UK will be held on Saturday 25th February 2017 to discuss Pastoral. Details regarding location will be announced in due course. 

FROM John Anderson

Tony Woodward (November newsletter) seems convinced that he has seen films based on Shute novels other than those known to have been made. In this I'm afraid he is mistaken. Although Shute produced film scripts for Pastoral and also for Farewell Miss Julie Logan, neither was ever made. His literary agents, A.P.Watt, would have controlled the contracts for films made from his novels.

MGM announced that it was to make a movie of Ruined City but again this did not go ahead because a film called Red Ensign had been released in 1934 which had a similar plot.

After Shute's death there were efforts to have a movie made of Round the Bend, but this came to nothing in the end.

FROM Charles D.

Surviving Zeppelin hangar:

This is one of the better ones I’ve seen.

FROM John Anderson

UK Book Group meeting

On 26th November the UK Book Group met north of Bristol to discuss Pied Piper. Everyone had enjoyed re-reading the book and had, once again, been moved by the story of fortitude and courage.
Alison showed the route from the Jura to Brittany that she had re-traced some years ago with a map and pictures of then and now.

We discussed Mr Howard's gentle and accepting behaviour of the children, rather unlike the author's,and our favourite passages.

Before publication, the book was serialised in Collier's Magazine just before the time of Pearl Harbor with the intention, presumably, of countering American isolationism.

Not surprisingly Pied Piper was translated into French twice, once in 1945 with the title "Coeur Genereux" (Generous Heart) and later with the ironic title "Bonne Vaccances M. Howard!"

Many thanks to Andy Burgess for arranging a most enjoyable meeting.

FROM David Horvath

You raised some great points Adrian.

Shute mixes in spirituality/spiritualism very deeply with several of his books  just look at RTB and ITW. I do wonder how he felt about the topics  if he was a believer or if he was just using them to interest more readers (especially with his engineering background).

Metal fatigue, while not completely understood, was well known before the book was written. I came across a WW II image of bomber wings being X-rayed to check for cracks in the metal (caused by fatigue). I may have shared the image with the Facebook Shutists group. It seems a pretty fair conclusion that this would be a problem with other aircraft  especially as they began to fly higher, faster, longer, and carrying heavier loads. And that there might be some poorly understood effects (i.e., flying in warmer climates delaying the fatigue as described in the book).

Fortunately, we have not had the opportunity to see if OTB would be the correct post-WW III scenario. About the time I read OTB (my first Shute book), I also read Pat Franks Alas Babylon  another, much more optimistic, post-WW III book. 

As far as his heart, Im not sure there was much that could have been done for him in the 1950s and 1960s. My memory begins in the late 1960s with my Grandfathers heart attack. Treatment was largely bed rest and lifestyle changes (fewer eggs, less red meat, less alcohol, stop smoking).

FROM Art Cornell

I would like to reply to Adrian Crowe's comments about No Highway and Mr. Honey. I have no dispute with most of what Adrian said. Mr. Honey and many others in real life are into the super natural. I do not agree with them but that is our view and choice. What I do object to is Shute's use of the Ouija board to actually discover where the tail was located. In a rather serious engineering, airplane story, he uses the super natural to solve the problem. I think it was inappropriate and could have found the tail in another manner. Adrian: I was in Adelaide in 1992 but missed you. 

FROM Phil Nixon

I am giving a talk on Sir Alan Cobham and "his Berkshire Adventures" on Monday 9th January, 2017 at 7.30pm to the Twyford and Ruscombe Local History Society. Cobham and Nevil Shute's early careers were often intertwined with each other, and the pioneer Aviator's Flying Circus days were used by Shute in "Round The Bend" and the short story "Air Circus". More information about the talk can be found at

FROM David Hughes

From this description of a DVD digitally remastered this sounds like the missing link as all the other DVDs I have ever heard about were poor quality copies ?

Town Like Alice DVD (Region 1) Complete 1981 Mini-Series. Digitally Mastered. 3-Disc Set. Color. Bryan Brown, Helen Morse, Gordon Jackson.

FROM Joy Evans

They filmed a lot of the new film of’ Swallows and Amazons’ here at Derwentwater in Keswick. (Although the story is really on Ullswater, not far away, but not as photogenic…) Down at the lake where I go nearly every day for a walk with my Black Labrador, Mickey! We weren’t allowed to go near when they were filming .Boo! Mickey would have been good as an extra-as a’ dog  swimming in the lake’! He is a great swimmer and very photogenic! Also they filmed some of the last Star Wars film ‘The Force Awakens’ on the far side of the lake—it was incredible when I watched the film to see the fighter planes coming in over our favourite fell (small mountain) called Catbells and to be able to see our hills and valleys in a major film! If only for a few seconds. Of course most of it was all done by computers, but they did come here to film some of the shots with the star actors.. We (the public) were kept far away but it was fun trying to see what was happening….mostly nothing!

But at the moment it is the most beautiful place in the world for me. The colours are…magnificent,spectacular, glorious,awesome,stunning…I have run out of adjectives. They say that Vermont in The Fall is amazing.  I would have a bet with anyone to say that it is better than the colours here now!

I hope you can visit  Keswick and the rest of the Lake District. It is very small and can be seen in a day! In a fast car. But what a waste!

FROM Joy Evans(2)

Hello all! I’d like to reply to some of Tony Woodward’s letter of November. Re: old films/tv shows made of NS books. Tony mentioned Pastoral, Ruined city and Requiem. I have tried to find any hint of these online, but failed miserably. Not a peep, I’m afraid. Maybe the films he saw were just MTV (Made for TV) films, where writers adapt stories to fit into time slots etc.

He mentioned ‘The Far Country’ starring Michael York. I saw this when it came out and it was very good, as I recall. Not too overdone and had quite a nice take on initial blinkered racism (to Germans) leading to a respect for a decent human being.

The later TV series of A Town Like Alice is available though some of the quality is a bit scratchy. I got my copy 6 months ago off Amazon. It is the full version of the book, unlike the film which doesn’t include the ACTUAL bit about why there is a ‘A Town Like Alice’! The original film is excellent of course, and Virginia McKenna is perfect. But so is Helen Morse in the TV series. Brian Brown looks the part but some of his acting is a bit wooden, although that is how he acts!

A few of Shute’s novels would still stand up to be made into films today. Obviously ATLA could be done again. Ditto Far Country. And I think that Pied Piper would easily make a great film. Not so sure about On The Beach nowadays. Times have changed and the whole world would have descended on Melbourne! Also it is so depressing I hope it doesn’t get a remake! The 1st was gloomy enough. Most other books are too dated scientifically, or too fantastical like ‘In The Wet’ for modern audiences to believe.

Or are they? I have only mentioned a few here. It would be good to hear what other members think…I know there are some sharp minds out there who could easily tweak a few scientific things to bring them up to date or make them believable. Sadly, mine isn’t one of those. I am good at History and English Lit., but science/maths…..forget it!

Actually, I just had a good idea for In The Wet new film…. A mixture of Picnic At Hanging Rock, ( Aboriginal Dreamtime) and an ex-Concorde pilot (Queen’s Flight)…… watch this space!


There seems to be some interest in movie plots which bear a resemblance to some of the NSN novels. The IMDB has a search by plot and, if you can figure out which key words to use, you may be successful in finding them.



From the Netherlands, where it still is cold, wet and windy, I’m wishing you Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.

See you all next month.