Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated May 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 Alison Jenner

At last year's conference in York we agreed to form a UK/Europe "Chapter" of the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation (many areas in USA have Chapters and meet regularly to discuss an agreed book). We've done nothing about it since; but I'd like to propose that we kick off with an Online mass book group reading of one of Shute's books.

We can read a book in time for an e-meeting in June - let's say Pied Piper as it's 70 years this summer since the events in the novel - and log on at an agreed time/date to exchange thoughts. If you like we can suggest some discussion topics to get started."

I'd like to suggest that those interested in this experiment log on to Facebook over the weekend 18-19-20 June, with the major activity taking place on Saturday 18 June from 1800 GMT onwards; by then a few of us will have left some "Starters for 10" and those inclined to do so can comment, add their own thoughts and suggestions and generally have a e-Book group experience. But you'll have to provide your own food/beverages !

If you want to take part, you will need to join Facebook and also join the Shutists group there; you certainly don't have to be in UK or other parts of Europe to participate; but it would mean a morning or late night log-on for other parts of the world; which is why I suggest the weekend duration for this event; your contribution doesn't have to be real time (I think !).

Look forward to "meeting" you all.

From Robert Lambkin

Reply to Mr. Edward Farrow's April 2010 Newsletter article.

Like you I read the works of NSN many times over the last 50 years and was unaware of anti Semitism, (Semitics are Arab races which include Jews according to my various dictionaries). It's time I read his novels again and his Autobiography. I started reading NSN as a teenager and over the years became aware how much his writing influenced my thinking processes.

As to the role of Mr. Honey I suggest in making his characters for No Highway NSN saw him in this light for his construction of the story. I do not think you are wrong in highlighting your observations Mr. Farrow, for me it will have me scuttling off to the bookshelf to read No Highway again whilst looking for both the points mentioned.

Happy reading

From Mills & Nancy Dyer

Yes, there is antisemitism in some of Shute's novels. I have not made a study of which works or how frequently it occurs, but it's there. I don't recall the presence of antisemitism in No HIghway, but do recall its presence in Kindling/Ruined City. I think his antisemitism is probably consistent with English (and American) society of the time.

From Beall Fowler

The issue of the characterization of Jews in Shute's novels has come up several times in our local group, the Tri-State Nevil Shute Book Society, and it probably deserves a more thorough airing that I can give here. It should be noted that in Shute's time (which partially coincides with my own time), comments such as "He's a Jew, but a good one," which today offend us, were quite common, even by people who did not think of themselves as harboring ill will. In both the UK and the USA, there was little overlap between the professions of Jews and Christians, they did not belong to the same clubs, and in general they socialized very little with each other. While there may well have been respect and even personal friendships developed through professional dealings, the two groups were separated in significant ways and tended to develop stereotypical images of each other. Thus such remarks in Shute's novels are consistent with the characters who might have uttered them. Nowadays the same characters might say "He's a Moslem, but a good one" or if (for example, a Democrat), "He's a Republican, but a good one."

On the other hand, in Shute's works there are two Jewish persons who stand out, and both are characterized sympathetically. In Pied Piper, John Howard accepts without hesitation the Jewish orphan Marjan, and plans to send him along with the other children to live with his daughter and her husband in America. Marjan's hatred of the Germans, while shocking, is seen to be understandable. And in Trustee from the Toolroom, the wealthy lumber magnate Solomon Hirzhorn goes far out of his way to help Keith Stewart succeed in his quest.Not only does Hirzhorn provide his personal resources for Keith's benefit, he also insists that Chuck Ferris provide a well-earned stipend to Keith after Keith detects a fatal flaw in Ferris's engineering design.

From John Stanley

You may remember that I had a book published a few years ago on the subject of the German bomber crash at Exbury in 1944, which Nevil Shute fictionalised in "Requiem for a Wren". I will be hosting some guided walks at Exbury on 5 and 6 June, which will tell the story of the Junkers mystery. The walks take in the crash site and areas of the Exbury Estate not normally open to visitors. I will also be covering the history of Exbury House as the naval HQ HMS Mastodon during Wold War II, and will of course tell the story of how Nevil Shute Norway became so intrigued by this curious wartime incident.

Editor: Those interested in going on these guided walks should contact John Stanley for further details.

Fromn Harvey Fetterly

On The Beach, a gift that keeps on giving.

The best books are the ones that have the most emotional effect on us, true of music , movies, paintings,and art in general. If you agree with that, then On The Beach has to be way up there in "best book heaven".

Round The Bend is my favorite but Nevil Shute did our world a big favor on or about 1957 by writing On The Beach and I think he did it with a purpose. That purpose was fulfilled when, during the "cold war" between the US and USSR, the nuclear clock didn't strike midnight. I think that so many people read the bestseller and told others of it's content that we were able to just "skirt the edge" of the use of nuclear devices in anger.

On The Beach describes in very real human terms what can still happen. Common then and now is nuclear fallout. Whether radiation contamination is global, or just drifts in to your own back yard is a moot point. I only mention that because, even though dated by today's reality, the book accurately points out the real dangers of nuclear use. In other words, don't bother building a better fallout shelter when you've got to leave anyway. Unfortunately Peter Holmes and his family had nowhere in the world to go.

Back in 1940 Mr Norway saw more accurately than most, the all encompassing effect of a city bombed and he wrote about it in a book called Whatever Happened To The Corbetts. By his own admission he did it with a purpose because, being an engineer and published author, he could, being a humanitarian he would. He did accurately predict the real problem of cities and services. That problem being, you just can't live there any more due to infrastructure failure, even if you survive the high explosive. In other words, don't bother building a better bomb shelter when you've got to leave anyway. Fortunately Peter Corbett and his family had their boat. It's strange to think that you can be lucky just to be a refugee.

The message in On The Beach was scary and somewhat unpopular in the '60s, partly due to it's source. Nevil Shute wrote Whatever Happened to the Corbetts and the publishers gave the first thousand copies to train air raid workers prior to the London blitz. Considering that reputation for prediction, its no wonder On The Beach was, and still is frightening. What with Iran and North Korea making nuclear noises, I wish On The Beach, translated into Arabic and Korean, would again become a bestseller. It could again, give us the edge we'll need.

We, in the Nevil Shute Foundation are also humanitarians, otherwise why would we bother or care to gain new readers so they can benefit by the books of a great man. Maybe society builders is more apt because the books of Nevil Shute could be considered to be instruction books on how to live and view others. The lessons are basic, simple and timeless...more gifts that keep on giving.

From Andy Burgess

The derivation of names Shute used in his novels has been the subject of much discussion. While reading an excellent book on the Spitfire recently I noted that reference was made to Lord Nuffield who was requested to build and run a factory in West Bromwich to build Spitfires. Lord Nuffield owned the company that produced the engine originally used in the Airspeed Envoy; however he abandoned the engine after disagreements with the Air Ministry. Shute approached him at the time to try to secure the engines for Airspeed in some way, however it was not possible. It is clear that Shute had had a number of dealings with Lord Nuffield and his company. In the book I was reading it stated that the task of setting up the factory was passed to one of Nuffield's main directors and I would say that it is fair to assume that Shute would have known of him. His name was Oliver Boden and Shutists will recall that this is also the name of one of the main characters in Most Secret. The real Oliver Boden died suddenly in March 1940 and it is stated in the book that it was not too much of a surprise as he was grossly overworked. Was the use of his name a tribute to the real person ? Probably too much of an assumption, but we will never know.

Another book I acquired recently led indirectly to another snippet of information, which I am not sure is well known. Certainly I was not aware of it. Shute's time at Shrewsbury School was spent in Oldham's house, named after its house master. In Slide Rule Shute says little about his time there, however does mention that he made a number of long standing friends, including his house master, who would have been Oldham. Oldham had to give up teaching at some time, however stayed at Shrewsbury, which clearly was his life. He wrote a history of Shrewsbury School, which is the book I acquired and within this book was an old press clipping of an obituary to Oldham. It seems he became something of an expert on old English book binding and had a couple of books published on the subject. One with the financial help of an old pupil from Shrewsbury - Nevil Shute.

From Mills Dyer

Stumbled on a picture of the Airspeed Oxford at this site:

From The Editor

Well it helps if I ask you. There was a lot of email this month, and I think that we have an interesting Newsletter. So I would like to say, keep up the good work. Remember, the newsletter is made by you, the readers, I just put it together.

From the Netherlands, where spring finally arrived (25°C, 77°F) see you all next month.


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