Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated June 2010


From John Anderson


This re-union weekend will take place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th June. There will be an opportunity to meet other Shutists and visit Shrewsbury School where Nevil was a pupil in the First World War. Our re-union dinner will be held there on the Saturday evening and we will visit RAF Cosford Museum on Sunday. If you are interested in coming to this event contact John Anderson for more information (

From Paul Spoff

One of the most popular Shute books is, "TRUSTEE FROM THE TOOLROOM." Many of us have often wondered exactly what a miniature model is.

Editor: Paul has send me a very interesting article, with photo's of several miniature V8 and V12 engines. Beautifully made and beautiful to look at. In the article several websites are mentioned, and those are listed below. I have made a pfd of the article, so anybody who wants to read it, let me know and I'll send it to you in an email.

From Connie Konikoff

I'm replying to Harvey Fetterly - On the Beach, the gift that keeps on giving...

Harvey, I thought your letter was brilliant because I did not realize that "Whatever Happened to the Corbetts", later renamed, was written BEFORE the war! Your idea of getting "On The Beach&quiot; out to countries that appear comfortable with the use of nuclear weapons is a good one, though I'm told that in the Middle East the radio is the best way to reach people because a large number of people are illiterate. I was told that by the former chief information officer of Kuwait who did a weekly radio show (moderate politically) because of the illiteracy. I think I will write to him and pose your idea to see if he has any methods for getting such a book out. I wonder if there are religious and political limits on a book like that though in certain countries. Great idea, anyway.

From Keith Minton

I was interested in the comments in the Newsletter on possible anti-semitism in Nevil Shute's novels. I see none of this, but one has to remember that writers will tend to write within the context of their period. For example when Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel on the basis of TEN GREEN BOTTLES, the title TEN LITTLE NIGGERS was quite acceptable, now it is not.

You cannot pigeon hole writers such as Nevil Shute. He was very much a free thinker for all time. One of my favourite characters in all his novels is THEODORE HONEY (a carefully chosen name, please note) the boffin eccentric brilliant scientist in NO HIGHWAY. He lived in a Farnborough council house with his daughter Elspeth, harboured strange beliefs on the second coming of Christ to this country at a given date, had not heard of an electric immersion heater which was strange even for the 1940s, had never flown, was able to get his daughter to locate an aircraft through mesmerism though located in Canada over 6000 miles away, and was quite right about the weakness of light alloy structures after being subjected to pressure for a given number of hours. This last theory was in fact scientifically correct and was of great help in the 1950s with the problems of the Comet, one of our very early jets.

NO HIGHWAY is an uneven masterpiece with a lot of good in it, and stuff especially in the romantic area which just doesn't convince. However it is a novel I return to time and time again for the character of THEODORE HONEY. Fascinating!

From Bob Schwalbaum

As a Jew, my antennae are always up for any hints of anti-Semitism.. not that I'm thin-skinned (I harbor some prejudices of my own).. just a student of human behavior.

So, I don't see how anyone can impute even the slightest touch of anti-Semitism to Shute, when he can create such a sympathetic and noble character as Mr. Hirzhorn in TFTT.

I might also note the large contingent herein from the USA which outnumbers all others. Interesting!

From Bill Hill

I apparently missed last month's edition as my computer crashed and I was migrating everything from XP to Windows 7. I like a lot of the features, but don't much care for the "look and feel".

Please allow me to make two points:

1. I believe that the casual references to Jews by NSN are simply reflections of the mores of his society at the time. I have looked for any sign of a linkage between a character being a Jew and as a result of which being a bad guy, and simply can't find it. If you are familiar with Dorothy Sayers' books, you find exactly the same sort of casual references to Jews. I do not consider these references anti-Semitism - merely a cultural lack of sensitivity at which we as a society have grown better in recent times. I would except from this generalization people such as Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright, whose public utterances speak only too well of a deep-seated dislike of Jews. This is completely lacking in the writings of NSN.

2. I must disagree with Mr. Fetterly's characterization of On the Beach. This novel is the single outstanding example of NSN's later works which commits two egregious sins: It creates a dystopian future with absolutely no hope of redemption, and it preaches. I don't believe that any of us would be happy with a war in which neutron low-yield thermonuclear weapons denuded the planet of mammalian life, but unfortunately he got a lot of the science and technical aspects of such a disaster wrong. But that's not really the point I wish to make. The character developments are shallow, the dialog is rushed, the plot is stilted, and there is little or no impetus to turn the page. As a Jeremiad, it is functional, but as a piece of enjoyable literature it is not. Many of the high-school literature teachers in the fifties and sixties were, as now, leftist-oriented, and this was simply too delicious a piece of propaganda to resist. So they force-fed it to their contemporary literature classes, and thereby squelched any desire on the part of most of these students (me included) to read any more Nevil Shute. If my initial exposure to Shute had been Alice, or Chequer Board, or Round the Bend, I would have developed a much earlier love of the works, and may sooner or later have gotten around to OTB without the deleterious effects of the earlier force-feeding. I believe that the circumstances I have detailed have done more to damage the general view of Shute than anything else. To me the great attraction of Shute is that there are no villains in his stories, and there is always hope (cf. Breaking Wave)

Of course opinions are very much like navels, in that everybody has one, and they're really not much use to anyone else.

From Stephen Smith

I have read with interest over the last couple of months the correspondence regarding Nevil Shute's attitude to Jews.

My recollection is that Jews are generally portrayed in a positive light. Is there not in Ruined City a passage where one of the characters comments to Warren "...but aren't they Jews?..." and Warren replies something to the effect, "Yes, but don't worry about that, you'll get a square deal from them." This might have concerned Heinroth who, again in my reading, is represented as a highly honourable merchant banker, worthy of the venturers' trust. I wonder what Henry Warren and Heinroth would have made of Goldman Sachs?

Again in Trustee from the Toolroom, the former naval officer who was a shipmate and comrade of the deceased brother in law is depicted as competent and trustworthy. It may be he who is described as a "Jew but a good one". On consideration I took this phrase to mean that he was a jeweller/goldmerchant and a good one, this trade being pursued mostly by Jews and so the job and the ethnic group/religion are not distinguished. I agree with you correspondent Fowler that the Hirzhorn family are mentioned as being Jewish but completely as a side issue. They might just as well have been Presbyterians or anything else. They are portrayed as efficient, successful and in every way human. Whatever Jewishness they have sits lightly on their shoulders. What I found more interesting was that Sol's personal assistant, the 'Jewish looking' Julie, is his son's love child !

I do not regard Nevil Shute as being in the slightest anti-Semitic, quite the reverse. He does use language in reference to people which is grating to our ears in a politically correct age. In one of the earlier novels he dismisses someone sneeringly as 'a Jew of the worst type' or some such epithet. But it was not just Jews who were mentioned in an uncomplimentary way. Does he not denounce in Slide Rule the Yorkshire farm girls who worked on the airship as being completely debauched and of the lowest type ? And in Ruined City Henry Warren seems to take particular umbrage that his wife is upstairs in bed with a "black man" who seems to be an Indian noble.

So in summary, while it may be that there are negative references in the novels to Jews and other "minorities", the big picture is that each character is considered on his or her own merits and none is ever condemned as a class.

From Charles D

This WWII museum doesn't have an Airspeed, but has several others that served the same purpose.

I think it's a great museum. Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

Included are: Tiger Moth, Cornell, Harvard, Avro Anson, Bolingbroke, and Lysander.

From Brian Kendal

My first posting after joining Civil Aviation in 1954 was with the Civil Aviation Flying Unit at Stansted, which did a number of different jobs, using several different types of aircraft. Among these were four Airspeed Consuls (GAJXF, GAJXG, GAJXH and GAJXI) which were civilianised Oxfords. These were used for commercial pilots instrument flying tests.

One trouble with these aircraft was that on the central plinth, the flap lever was next to the undercarriage lever. One day a candidate had completed his detail and taxied back to the hardstanding. At that point he said "Retracting Flaps" and, you've guessed it, pulled the wrong lever.

The aircraft started sinking, and if he had let it, there would have been little damage, but seeing what was happening, he pushed the lever back again, at which point the undercarriage jacks came through the top surface of the wings.

He then turned to the examiner and said

"I suppose I've failed !"" Repairs took a considerable time and all our Consuls were then fitted with a simple bolt to stop the undercarriage being inadvertently raised.

From Richard Kidd

Saw a most interesting segment of the following show which involved a good look at the inside and outside of the shed at Cardington where the R101 was built. Very relevant to parts of "Slide Rule"

Britain's Greatest Machines: 1920s After the horrors of World War I, the 1920s boom-and-bust years were about speed, glamour, and power. But the modern world didn't just exist, it had to be invented. Chris explores the motorbikes, articulated lorries, petrol pumps and planes that came off the drawing board to redefine an exciting new world. See Chris recreate the decade's new obsession with motor racing, and explore the massive building where Britain produced the biggest flying machine the world had ever seen - the R101 airship.

From Jim MacDougald

It was great timing that Andy Burgess wrote his "snippit" of information about Nevil Shute and his housemaster at Shrewsbury School, J.B. Oldham. I had just a few weeks earlier purchased a book, "Blind Panels of Old English Binders" by J.B. Oldham, published at Cambridge University Press in 1958. I didn't know who Oldham was. I just bought it because it is inscribed to NSN. When I read Andy's snippit, the name sounded familiar, so I took the book off my bookshelf and found that it is, indeed, the book Andy referenced.

It is inscribed:

To Nevil S Norway

With much gratitude for his generosity

in enabling this book to be published

From the Author

J B Oldham

September 1958

On the inside flap, J. Basil Oldham, M.A., F.S.A., is identified as Librarian of Shrewsbury School. In the preface it says, "This research could not have been done without the generosity of the Trustees of the Leverhulme Research Fellowship Fund; nor could the book be published but for the willingness of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press to publish it on a non-commercial basis, and for the generous financial support of a friend who was formerly a boy in my House at Shrewsbury School, Mr. Nevil S. Norway, who characteristically wrote that "it seems only fit that the entertainment book should be brought in to assist more serious scholarship"- a reference to the novels of 'Nevil Shute' "

The price on the book flap is 6 pounds 6 shillings, net

From Mike Ridge

I haven't tried e-mailing like this before, but I've come across an interesting bit of information and would like to know if it's significant. In The Chequer Board, the main character, John Turner, likes to visit a pub, the Barley Mow. I've been reading a book that, in part, recounts the experiences of a British soldier who was in a Chinese prison camp in Korea during 1951-52 (Soldier Against The Odds, by Lofty Large). He describes how the prisoners fashioned darts and formed darts teams and how his team call itself the "Barley Mow ... after a pub in Cheltenham". Since I don't know England, I cannot say if there is any tie in between the two mentions of the "Barley Mow". I'd be interested in learning if there is.

FROM Malcolm Cole

The film of "Landfall" is being commercially released on DVD for the first time. Unless there is any last minute change of plan it is to be released on 14 June. It was originally to be released in January but was held back until June so there is just a chance it may be further delayed. At the moment, however, have it on their website for pre-order at £9.99.

Editor: I received Malcolm's email on May 8, and ordered the DVD right away. Yesterday I received an email from Amazon that there is a further delay in the delivery, which is now expected for mid July.

From Gadepalli Subrahmanyam

Eulogizing our favorite author is fine, but some times, we do need to criticize his opinions, expressed through the characters in his novels.

He was an incorrigible optimist and was making all sorts of nice predictions that improve the humanitarian values. Jesus was supposed to descend in 1970 or so in Glastonbury, according to Mr.Honey of NO HIGHWAY. It did not come to pass. Then, in IN THE WET, all sorts of future was told of Commonwealth, which again failed to occur.

At the same time, the dire future predicted by him in ON THE BEACH also did not take place - Thank God for it.

In any case, his novels have the excellent character - Readability, which is sustaining all of us Shutists, even after he left the world.


I'm sorry the newsletter is late this month. I had to go on a business trip to Japan and China unexpectedly in the last week of May. I have done part of the work on this newsletter, while flying over Siberia, on my way back home.

The weather in Holland is wonderful. Blue skies, hardly any wind and 24°C (75°F)


Write in if you want your name listed and would like to get together with other Shutists in your vicinity.


Jim Wells Lindfield, Sydney
Richard Michalak Paddington, Sydney
Ruth Pearson Adelaide
Neil Wynes Morse Canberra
James Fricker Melbourne
Tommy and Polly Thomas Tumbi Umbi, NSW
Jane Lowe Berridale, NSW


Mike Marsh Chepelare


Harvey Fetterly Winnipeg, Manitoba


Joost Meulenbroek Enschede


Julian Stargardt
Amit Ghosh


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam Vizianagaram


Robert Davis


Håkan Larsson lives in Löberöd


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt Bellingham, Washington State
Bill McCandless Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan, Northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac
David B. Horvath, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia
Mary L Barnich St Petersburg, Florida
Art Cornell Cape Cod
Bob King Stanwood, WA
Dave Penniman Newtonville, NY
Jim MacDougald St Petersburg, Florida
Alan Gornik Western Springs, IL
Bob Schwalbaum Honolulu
Mike Miller Chariton, IA
Sally M Chetwynd Wakefield, Massachusetts
John Cooper San Antonio, Texas
Barry Barnes Reno NV
Jim Sterling Modesto, California
Kit Lauen Edina Mn (Minneapolis)
Steve King 30 miles north of Seattle
George Norcross New Mexico
Merle Bedell Buford, Georgia
LauraSchneider New Jersey, Eastern PA, New York
Ray Wilder Jamestown Kentucky
Nate Benedict Friday Harbor, Washington
Jim Tierney Simi Valley, CA
Jim Janelle Hermon, Maine
Russell C. Coile Pacific Grove (140m south of San Francisco, CA)
Rev. Fr. Daniel Beegan Rumford ME