Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated February 2011

NSN International Conference in Seattle, Washington USA.
The 7th Biennial Conference will be held from Sunday 18th to 23rd September 2011.
Registration for the conference will begin in March.
Watch for more information or contact me at


FROM John Anderson


On January 17 (Nevil Shute's Birthday) Dan Telfair announced his resignation from the Foundation Board. He felt that, after twelve years, the time had come for him to step down and to let others take up the mantle. We owe Dan an enormous debt of gratitude; without his work from the Centennial on, there would have been no Foundation, no biennial Gatherings, no Newsletter, no website in the form we know it, etc. From the beginning his devotion and dedication has been, and is, an inspiration. He describes himself, like Nevil Shute, as a starter and not a runner. I beg to differ, for in the past he has fulfilled all the roles as Newsletter Editor, Secretary/Treasurer, Researcher, Event Manager (the Centennial and OZ 2001) - that is certainly being a runner.
As many of you will know Dan devotes a good deal of his time to the medical flight charity Grace Flight, both clocking up hundreds of flying hours a year as well as managing the New Mexico wing. So thank you so much, Dan, for all you have done. I hope you will not disappear entirely from the scene and we look forward to seeing you in Seattle in September!

At the same time Jim MacDougald, another original Board Member, also stepped down. Jim has been a very generous benefactor to the Foundation since its beginning. His generosity made possible many of the Foundation's activities, not the least of which are the Aviation Scholarships of which 12 have been awarded since 2003. Jim is also a great collector of Nevil Shute books and what he calls "Shute-abilia". Typical of his generosity was his donation to Shrewsbury School of a signed copy of "Blind Panels of English Binders". This specialist book was written by Basil Oldham, Shute's Housemaster at Shrewsbury and was produced thanks to Nevil Shute's financial assistance. Thank you Jim for your very valuable support over the years.

I'm delighted to announce that Alison Jenner has been elected as a Board Member. Many of you will know her from the Conferences since 2003 and our UK re-union weekends. She brings not only a wide knowledge of Nevil Shute's works (as demonstrated by her stellar performance in the UK Mastermind TV show !), but a broad literary knowledge, a wealth of experience from her work in adult education, and an infectious enthusiasm. We look forward to working with her.

From Kerry Raymond

Nevil Shute fans in Brisbane (Australia) will be delighted to hear that the Brisbane City Council library has recently bought what appears to be a complete collection of Nevil Shute's novels from the Vintage Classics series (plain pink-red covers).

From Dorothy and Eric Lawson

Regarding audio books, Simon Backshall mentioned "Stephen Morris", "Town Like Alice" and "On the Beach". "Lonely Road" is, or was, also available. Read by Robin Bailey, eight cassettes, and sold by Chyivers Audio Books of Windsor Bridge Road, Bath BA2 3AX in the U. K. Ours dates about 2004 or before. In fact, it is one that I, Dorothy, received as a prize at either the first or second conference. It is still very much prized.

Also, is it in order for me to mention that we have duplicate Shute books both in paperback and hardcover? I'm sure someone out there is hunting for a particular book. When we are on our road adventures we my always check the used book stores for copies. They are getting scarcer and scarcer. All are used but in readable condition and prices are reasonable; in fact, the postage will probably amount to more than the cost of the book!! We can list titles and prices if you wish; the postage will depend on where the buyer lives.

From Tommy and Polly Thomas

This week saw the release of MacApps - the software needed to easily install Applications on our Mac computers and replicates what we have been able to do previously only on our iPhones and iPads.

With the Amazon Kindle eBooks application we can now purchase and read any of 23 of Nevil's books on these various devices for a cost between $9 and $10 each.

In our case we have two iPhones, an iPad and of course a Mac computer and once a book is purchased we can read it on any or all of these devices independently at no extra cost. With four novels so far purchased we are hooked and ready to discuss with other eReaders.

There are various attractive features of this facility like reading in bed in the dark with search and bookmark functions and variable font size for those of us with old eyes.

Have a go and contribute to this topic.

From John Anderson


Earlier this month I had an invitation to attend a talk on the history of Sherburn Aero Club given by Richard Maxted one of the Club's Directors. Sherburn in Elmet was the home of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club where Nevil Shute was a director in the late 1920's. In preparing for our visit from the York Conference in 2009, Richard made some displays of the Club's history. This inspired him to research its history and the result was his talk. The Yorkshire Aeroplane Club was formed at a meeting of a group of enthusiasts in Leeds in 1909. Their aim was to build and try out their own aircraft. One of the founders was Robert Blackburn who went on to form his own successful aircraft company. After World War I private flying resumed and the Club received a grant of £2000 from the Air Council together with a gift of a number of DH Moth aircraft. This was just before Shute moved up to Yorkshire in 1926 to work on the R.100 airship at Howden. In Slide Rule, Shute recalled pranging a Moth aircraft when he clipped the boundary fence coming into land. This was not the only accident during that period for by the end of 1928 five club aircraft had been either damaged or written off in flying accidents. Lord Grimthorpe, Airspeed's first Chairman, learned to fly at Sherburn in a Moth and became President of the Club.

In 1932 the first Airspeed Ferry was test flown at Sherburn with Harry Worrall at the test pilot. In the 1930's the Club moved from Sherburn to Yeadon (now Leeds-Bradford airport), but a number of diehards continued to use Sherburn, buying fast aircraft with the sole intention of winning air races, at which they were fairly successful.

During World War II the Air Ministry requisitioned the airfield and the Blackburn company established a factory alongside to build Swordfish aircraft, a two seater biplane affectionately known the "the stringbag". Over 6,000 of them were built there. One or two RAF Squadrons were housed there but only on a temporary basis, Sherburn was never an operational aerodrome. The Air Transport Auxiliary were stationed there with a number of women pilots being used to ferry aircraft to operational bases. For a period Sherburn was home to the Airborne Experimental Establishment. Amongst other things techniques for despatching paratroopers from aircraft were developed and refined, for example the use of static lines in aircraft.

In 1963 the Air Ministry closed down their activities and after a period Sherburn Aero Club was formed. Today it is one of the premier flying clubs in England. A number of their members have gone on to careers in commercial aviation, four of them assisted by Scholarships awarded by the Nevil Shute Foundation.

Present at the meeting was Richard Morris whose father, Reg., was Ground Engineer at the Yorkshire Aero Club in Shute's time. I had the pleasure of a good chat with Richard who brought along a lot of his father's memorabilia including photographs, membership cards and his Ground Engineers licenses. I reminded Richard that his Dad had a cameo role in The Rainbow and the Rose at the G.E. Billy Monkhouse who worked for Johnnie Pascoe in Tasmania.

An excellent evening and I'm grateful to Richard Maxted for the invitation.

From John W. Cooper

Last weekend, Dorothy and I saw the movie "The Kings Speech." It is a superb movie that tells how an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, helped King George VI mostly overcome his stuttering.

The movie has stimulated discussions of stuttering and stammering - its cause, effect, and treatment.

This interest, and the fact that Nevil Shute Norway was a stammerer, might make it an interesting topic for the Conference in Seattle.

A brief "surfing" of the Net came up with:

From the February 1, 2004 Newsletter:

Richard Waller writes: "In your general quest to keep track of links to Nevil Shute you may be interested in the brief appearance of Shute in Harald Penrose's autobiography Adventure with Fate (Airlife Publishing). Penrose, for many years through the 30's,40's and 50's, was a renowned Test Pilot for Westland Aircraft.

Penrose writes that with Westland's future looking doubtful in 1935 he......answered an advertisement for a pilot to take charge of prototype flying at Airspeed and was summoned to this burgeoning company's new premises on the edge of Portsmouth's grassy aerodrome. Ushered to the Managing Director N.S.Norway, not yet famed as Nevil Shute the author, I was astonished to find that he stuttered badly.

P-P-Penrose....I n-n-know you've h-h-had some years of test flying b-b-but let me p-p-probe you a little. W-W-What do you say to landing at 100mph? Fifty years later Harald Penrose recounted this story to me and added that Shute was very disinclined to believe Penrose's assertion that it would be no problem with a proper length of runway."

He was still stuttering in his 30's.


"How Emily Blunt Beat Her Stutter"

"Nevil Shute Norway, Airship Engineer (R-101), Aeronautical Engineer, entrepreneur (Airspeed Limited) Weird weapons designer in WWII and, as Nevil Shute, author of 24 books including "A Town Like Alice" and "On the Beach" was another famous stutterer. Imagine what he might have accomplished without it? (Kidding. He seems to have done pretty well) One odd thing is that while he stuttered while speaking his native English, he did when speaking French, in which he was apparently very fluent. (my emphasis)

A breakthrough moment in the movie is when Bertie (King George VI) reads aloud from Macbeth while listening to music on earphones - and does not stammer. The gist is that stammering is a mechanical problem - not mental.

Could Nevil ever have visited Logue in his Harvey Street chambers?

Just an Idea!

From Diane Lachance

We have had only two snowstorms this winter, here in New Hampshire. A bit unusual, but each storm brought sizeable amounts of snow and we are having a rather typical January. A good month to hunker down and read a few Nevil Shute novels. I have reread A Town Like Alice and am preparing to select my next title this evening. I am wondering about reading the novels in the order in which they were written. Has anyone else done this?

My primary reason for writing is to report on a small contribution to The Effort. While conducting an online search through my public library services, I decided to explore the NoveList service. Novelist is an online guide to fiction and is available through many libraries. While on this site, I decided to do a search for Nevil Shute. I was pleasantly surprised to see sixteen of Nevil Shute&~39;s works listed. I also noticed an opportunity to have additional information provided on the author page for Nevil Shute. It only required one email for NoveList to agree to update the list of works, and to add the NSN Foundation website link. Twenty two of Nevil Shute's books are now listed at NoveList, and the website link is provided in the "More about this Author" folder.

Three books are missing: Seafarers, Vinland the Good and Sliderule. Sliderule is most likely not listed because it is non-fiction. Here is an interesting excerpt from the email response from NoveList:

There are a few ways in which titles are added to NoveList. Our catalogers mine about a dozen review journals, including Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus, for new titles. They aim to include as many well-reviewed titles as possible. The primary focus is on American authors, with a few catalogers dedicating their time to authors from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Since Shute is British, it is not surprising that we may have missed a few of his titles.

In addition, our catalogers follow popular authors, best-seller lists, series and award families. Those titles are systematically added to the database, sometimes months in advance with a "Forthcoming" tag, which is then removed when the title is published.

Their goal is to include as many of the titles that our users are likely to be looking for, or that would be of interest to them according to their reading preferences. NoveList has included appeal terms in book records (storyline, pace, tone, and writing style) to help us make title, series, and author recommendations based on more than just genre and subject headings. Because of that, our catalogers also look for titles that would be of interest to readers of similar titles.

Finally, some of our titles are added as a result of feedback from users like you. Even with all of the effort we put into cataloging, it is impossible to include every title published in this country, let alone in the world. So, we take cues from our users. When we receive a recommendation or request through feedback, our catalogers first check Baker & Taylor sales numbers and WorldCat entries to ensure that the suggested titles are available in libraries and compatible with their other guidelines. It would be frustrating to our users if their Result Lists included "local favorites" that are only available to libraries in certain cities. If the titles meet standards, they are added immediately, but will not be "live" in NoveList until the next weekly update.

It was a pleasant experience to receive such quick results. A drop in the bucket, but another link to potential readers.

From Ruco

Re the mini series of ATLA, starring Bryan Brown.

I watched this on TV here down under, and really enjoyed it as a young adult. (a few moons ago now!!) I think if anyone gets hold of a copy they should not be disappointed.

I was excited recently to get a chance to watch No Highway in the Sky. I had never had the chance before and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Of course it was not a perfect depiction of the story, but none the less enjoyable!

From Harvey Fetterly

I just finished re-reading Ruined City (1938) where Henry Warren is getting used to being in prison and he discovers the value of re-reading.

Nevil Shute's books are so re-readable that it's too bad Henry Warren couldn't have read some of them. The only choices he could have had were: Marazan (1926), So Distained (1928) and Lonely Road (1932), by the time that his character came to life in Ruined City in 1938. On the other hand, being the product of the same author... he was them!

Henry, like his creator Nevil, knew the difference between right and wrong. He decided to do wrong and he had his reasons, right or wrong, for falsifying a prospectus. He just "didn't have the luck to get away with it" according to the Almoner, Miss McMahon. While in prison for the crime he draws parallels to being a schoolboy and a soldier and finds out that being in prison is not particularly a completely bad or good thing but is only relative to how you feel about it.
He was able to get a lot of much needed rest which was good. He didn't get enough enough reading material which was bad, but he learned to savor and re-read what he did get, which was good.

If Henry had read Marazan he would have understood that Compton also had his altruistic reasons for being an escaped convict (very little of his sentence was left to go). Remember, Henry's reasons were also without personal gain and he may have taken some comfort from Compton's book.

So Distained would have confirmed that re-reading is common. As you may recall, Lord Arner constantly re-visited the same art book, when he needed to relax, so he could think things through.

Commander Stevenson in Lonely Road was perhaps wrong to shoot surrendering soldiers but let's not be too judgmental. He also had his reasons, for which we could forgive him, even though he couldn't forgive himself. A good read and re-read of Lonely Road would have suited Henry Warren while in prison.

I got curious when Nevil Shute had Henry Warren discover that there is value in re-reading. I wonder if Mr. Norway discovered the same thing for himself at one point and I'd like to know when that was.

Harvey Fetterly, Winnipeg
Where there's lots of snow and it's still falling. We have the potential for serious spring flooding like in 1997.
My empathies are currently with our Australian friends currently living wetter than "In The Wet".


Lots of copy for the newsletter this month, thank you, and keep those emails coming.

From the Netherlands, where all the snow has gone, and where we now have damp and cold weather, hoping that spring will come soon. See you all next month.