Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated June 2009


From Dal Wayment

I was in high school in the first half of the 60s and with a great many other Americans at that time read "On the Beach". A few years later in the early 70s I was serving with the US Air Force in West Berlin. There must have been a reissue of all of Mr. Norway's works at that time because the British NAAFI Club had a display of all of his books in paperback. I picked up one or two, I don't remember which ones, and was really hooked.

I purchased most of Mr. Norway's works during the three years that we served in Berlin. For some reason I didn't get a copy of "Most Secret" and it took me years of looking in used book stores, in the years before ebay, to finally find a copy. Since then I have accumulated most, but not all of these works, in hardback. I still prefer the thrill of finding one of Mr. Norway's books at a thrift store and rescuing it to ordering one on-line. If I find one I always buy it, if I already have it or not.

I have enjoyed these books for so long and read each of them so often that I don't really have a favorite. I find that loaning a book to friend, foe, or relative doesn't make any difference, I never get it back. So if I wish to introduce someone to Shute I give them whatever duplicate copy I happen to have.

From Nelson Pole

My interest in Shute was peaked by learning that he was (originally) an engineer who wrote for relaxation. I use him in my course in Engineering Ethics as an example of an artists reflections on the career of engineering. His characters are not merely incidentally engineers but think like engineers and are posed engineering-type experiences to which they have to react.


With eight weeks to go before we gather in York, the full Conference Programme is now up on the website We have an excellent line up of speakers covering all aspects of Nevil Shute from the technical and historical to the literary. As I mentioned last month, registration at "early bird" prices closed on 31st May. You can still register during June but at a slightly higher rate. However a number of you took advantage and registered during May. Numbers are now around 40. If you have signed to to come just for a day you can now choose which one - Monday, Wednesday or Friday and let me know.

Everything is slotting into place nicely but there is still a lot to do. Work is underway to assemble a range of interesting items for display. We have had a number of offers of items for raffle prizes. If you do have any books or memorabilia that you think others may be interested in, please bring them with you.

Finally, a reminder that the Novotel, our venue, has a few rooms available at agreed Conference rates. After 14th June they will be released and you may end up paying more for a last minute booking.


From Greer Lile

The following two letters from Carmelite Sisters came about from their reading of Nevil Shute Newsletters. They simply wanted to express their thoughts of Mr. Shute as others have. You will enjoy the letters. This is indeed a unique group of Sisters, whose sole vocation is "Prayer" for all of us. They ask nothing.

They have a website as noted and will honor requests for their newsletter.

In the "not important" department--we are not Catholic but when several years ago I asked Sister Mary Alice Grace if we could belong to them--her prompt reply was "yes".

From Sister Ann Wiedemer, OCD

Dear Friends of Nevil Shute, Praised be Jesus Christ !

Each month we look forward to Your Newsletters and I so enjoyed reading about the books-the "favorite" books of Nevil Shute and the love they have for this great author.

We were introduced to him and his books through a great lover of them and he reads and re-reads them twice a year - Mr. Greer Lile whom we've known and been friends with for over 50 years now.

It was several years ago that he lent us a few and those of us were captivated with them right away - and "addicted" too !

The first one I read and is still my favorite after "A Town Like Alice" was "Beyond the Black Stump"-I love it and will never forget it.

A couple of years ago I wrote in one of your newsletters how much we enjoy his books and we borrow them from Mr. Greer Lile. Mr. Dan Telfair mentioned this to one of the board members about us how we enjoy reading these great novels. What was our surprise when a big box from Florida (St. Petersburg) arrived in December 2006. We opened it and oh, it was full of treasures more precious that gold - 22 volumes of Nevil Shute's Novels ! Oh the joy and excitement and the gratitude to Mr. Jim MacDougald for this gift-just a week from Christmas it arrived, Bless the Lord. These books are beautifully bound also - Mr. MacDougald had them all done for us-printed and bound. They fill a shelf in our library and we can choose what we want to read and usually there are always some in use.

Our Carmel does have a Web and e-mail site and

We are 13 Sisters here now, we lost one on Feb. 7th, 2009 - she suffered much from cancer and the Good Lord called her home to Heaven. We now have 9 Sisters in our cemetery here on our property.

Our life is one of Prayer-we are an "enclosed" Order of Catholic Nuns (Sisters) whose life is dedicated to Prayer for the World and for all-we receive many requests for prayer for special intentions like asking us to pray for work, the sick, families, etc. etc-just for whatever they write or call in for-they ask us to intercede with God through prayer. It is our apostolate and our work-we do not go out unless it is for a Doctor or necessary shopping. Our "vacation" each year is a 2 week "retreat" when we can be away (but right here) from our Carmel Community and have our own schedule for Prayer, Spiritual Reading-relaxing time for walking in the woods here on our property. All the Sisters look forward to this "vacation" as other people look forward to theirs to travel to another country, state, or to visit friends and relatives.

We'll forever be grateful to Mr. Greer Lile for introducing us to Nevil Shute's Books and to Mr. Jim MacDougald for the beautiful set of his books he had printed and bound for us and our Library.

Greer also gave us a "Biography of Nevil Shute" by Julian Smith which we enjoyed.

We thank God for all the writings of this good author, Nevil Shute, so inspiring and uplifting and so "clean"! I know you understand what I mean by this too.

God Bless each of You. We hold you all in Prayer.

From Sister Mary Alice Grace

Of all the novels I have read in my life-time and there have been many, Nevil Shute's have been among my favorites. Why ? The characters are so real; the lessons that are there-yet not &quor;preached". When you near the end of the Story, you don't want it to end- you want it to keep on indefinitely. Of all the books, I remember Nevil Shute's best-and can tell to others.

How did I get introduced to them ? A good friend of many years, Mr. Greer Lile, lent us one- I believe Round the Bend was the first. It was so intriguing I wanted more and more. One of the Sisters began corresponding with Dan and Zia Telfair and eventually a generous friend in Florida sent a beautifully bound complete set. We also began to receive, through Greer Lile, the Newsletter, which is very interesting. But looking through them I find very few who enjoy my favorite most. It is Pied Piper . How the elderly man and his dead son's fiancée saved the lives of 7 children, what courage and love. I also enjoyed Trustee in the Toolroom which many others do, and A Town Like Alice, The Ruined City and Beyond the Black Stump, all have three stars in my list of all his books.

Our life does not include much time for reading of any but spiritual books, so it has taken years to go through all 23-have I missed any ? As time permits, I may begin again to read at least my favorite. Prayer makes up a great deal of our time, but that is our LIFE and needed more today than ever. We will include all Shutists and their intentions in our prayer.

More letters to the Editor

From Mike Blamey

I am presently assisting with the refurbishment of the water wheel at a House - Temple Druid - in West Wales. It was where I stayed as a refugee (with mother and father) in 1943 - the house run as a refuge for those bombed out (in our case from Portsmouth !) by Leo Walmsley.

Father was a civilian attached to the Royal Navy (working on submarine modifications and ammunition hoists - as he had worked for Weygood Otis designing and installing the lifts in the Queen Mary in 1937)

I was told by mother (just before she died in 2000) that one evening, after their joint work in Portsmouth father brought Shute to our house and I was "picked-up" aged 6 months by the great man ! During my researches into the house (which supposedly was used by Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton for their little gatherings) I have been in touch with several other local historians. One has confirmed that her researches have indicated that Shute himself stayed there to recover from mental strain. This would also have been in 1942 or 1943. I presume as well known authors, he and Walmsley would have known each other. Perhaps that was how we arrived there as well.

From Simon Allen

The subject of the multiple vote, with regards to ordained ministers is one that caught my attention. As a Humanist, I work full time as an Officiant and Celebrant for non-religious ceremonies, predominantly funerals. If I was religious, I would be an ordained minister.

The holding of special office in the Christian church is one way in which the idea, and thus "In The Wet", becomes heavily dated. If the idea were brought into the 21st Century, we could certainly take the route of any religion being recognised but, the problem then becomes one of definition. What some people call a religion is so far removed from another's that they might even start a war over it . The USA keeps religion out of it's constitution - although it lands up in 99% of everything else - and other countries have an established church, so it is an area ripe for problems.

As an atheist I would naturally decry any bias towards religion because, as we all know, there are some very good ministers and some very bad ones that ought to have been put in prison but were/are protected by their church elders to protect themselves. The whole idea of the Multiple Vote is predicated on someone doing something good. Increasingly that is difficult to prove and relies upon other humans to agree with each other. Until quite recently, some people thought that the international banking system was good. (Having worked in it for a few years, I never held such views !)

So, whilst I like the idea of the Multiple Vote irrespective of who originally thought it up, and the idea of a person striving to do more for altruistic reasons, we can be sure that it is an idea that will not gain any weight in the current age.

From Chris Philips

I think Dan Telfair is partly right. But in principle, NS had it right, too, even though we may disgree with some of the details. I think we need to ask some questions:

Why do we have Governments and voting systems to elect them ? Because we need to select people to make the day-to-day decisions on how to spend the money we pay through taxes for the supply of the services we need as citizens. So Dan's system is correct in seeing higher tax payers receiving more voting power.

But what about the wealthy man who pays his taxes, but has no need of the services ? Does he care whether the money is being spent wisely ? Therefore does he vote wisely ? Maybe he only votes for who will maximise his income, regardless of other aspects ? So I think we need an element of "needs". Most national expenses are for things we all might need at any time in our life; health care, national defence, unemployment benefits, etc., but public education is different. Most people only have an interest in it for the 20 to 30 years of their voting life that their children pass through the system. If national government pays for public education, the more kids you have in school, the more you should have a say in how that money is spent. Kids in schools, and their parents/guardians, are easily identifiable. They should get an extra vote.

The same argument could also be made for pensioners, who are receiving more in state benefits (pension, health care) than most people, and so have more at stake. They could get more votes as they age.

And finally there is the question of one's ability to make a good choice. Someone who has had the education to equip him or her with the tools to make a considered decision should also get an extra vote. How this "level" of education would be determined is the most difficult thing of all. You can't just say "all those with degrees", because many technical qualifications are as good as degrees and many with degrees in specialised technical subjects are no better equipped to choose a politician than someone who has never been to university. And then there is the person who has no formal qualifications, but has seen a lot of life and has learned to judge people well - they should not be disadvantaged. But I think some system that recognised different levels of maturity in judgement and descision-making could be conceived, even if it wasn't perfect.

So we end up with one Basic Vote, plus multiple Taxpayer Votes, Children-in-School Votes, Pensioner Votes and Good Chooser Votes. And why not give an extra vote or votes to people who perform an extraordinary service for their fellow-citizens, like that given to David Anderson.

The sad thing is that there is absolutely no way that any ruling party, in any country, having been voted into power with "one man, one vote", by people who vote for a politician because they like the colour of his eyes, or because his or her name came first on the ballot paper, or because their favourite newspaper told them who to vote for, is going to voluntarily give up their nice cushy jobs by bringing into a law a multiple vote system that would produce "a better class of politician", and send them home to their familes.

Yours, from cloud-cuckoo land,

Chris Phillips

From Rob Laurent

I'm an Australian recipient of the Nevil Shute Newsletter. I always enjoy receiving the latest Newsletter and reading what other Shute enthusiasts have to say about the works of one of my favourite authors.

I'm not aware if the subject of the Nevil Shute Papers in the National Library of Australia (NLA) has been discussed in the Newsletter. If it has, then what I'm writing about will be old hat for long-time readers.

The recent letters about In the Wet suggest to me that many readers are unaware of the parallel between a part of this novel and Shute's final, unfinished novel Incident at Eucla, the manuscript of which is part of the NLA's "Papers of Nevil Shute Norway, MS 2199."

The parallel that I refer to is the Nativity scene in both stories: the birth of an aboriginal baby who is (presumably, in Eucla) destined for great things. The terms used by Shute to describe degrees of aboriginality in both novels are unacceptable to today's indigenous Australians so I won't repeat them in this letter.

In "In the Wet" the Nativity-like scene is played out in northern Australia's Gulf Country during a flood. All the animals from the surrounding countryside have congregated on the high ground around Liang Shi's hut where old Stevie is dying. Somehow Stevie's spirit, or whatever, passes to the baby David Anderson, who is being born at the same time, not far away. David's father is the white drover Jock and his mother is the aboriginal Mary.

Incident at Eucla is set on the southern edge of the Australian continent, on the Nullarbor Plain, at the old Eucla telegraph station (which actually exists). It is here, during a flood that isolates a group of travelers, that an aboriginal baby is born to the builder's labourer Joe and his wife Daydream Mary. Once again Shute includes animals (pigs and a stud bull) in the event. Joe and Mary are the last to arrive at Eucla and it seems they're destined to spend the night in the shed with the animals. Unfortunately Nevil died before reaching the birth of the baby.

What little there is of Incident at Eucla makes wonderful reading for anybody who loves Shute's work, even with the inevitable frustration of having no ending. Shute's handwritten notes give some idea of some of the events he intended to include. These include a miracle of some sort, and the appearance of three wise men. The wise men were meant to grant three gifts to Australia: oil, water and shelter from radioactivity.

It's about fifteen years since I acquired copies of the thirty typed pages of the manuscript (and five pages of handwritten notes) from the NLA. As far as I know anybody can obtain similar copies if they go through the correct procedure. First I needed to obtain permission from Shute's literary agents A P Watt Ltd in London. I then sent proof of Watt's permission (plus payment for copying and postage) to the NLA, who then supplied me with the goods. Watt's permission came with the condition that my copy of the manuscript cannot be reproduced, which is why I can't supply an excerpt with this letter.

There's some great stuff in the NLA's Shute Papers. The address is: National Library of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes ACT 2600 AUSTRALIA. Telephone +61 (0)2 6262 1266 The address of AP Watt Ltd is: AP Watt Ltd, 20 John St., London WC1N 2DR. Telephone 020 7405 6774


Please do check

Only one more newsletter until York 2009. Please keep your email coming, see you all next month, from a very sunny Holland, 24oC.


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


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan (northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac)
David B. Horvath, dhorvath in the domain, near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia