Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated November 2009


What does one say to encourage a person to read a Shute book?

From Richard Wynn

My niece is currently studying at the University of Queensland and mentioned she had read some of NSN, and I encouraged her to persevere, especially when one needs an antidote to all the rubbish on the market. Her generation should be aware there are alternatives to the literature which pervades today's society, i.e. books full of blasphemy, swearing and graphic sexual writing. NSN's matchless narrative style is, for me, timeless, and transcends the trendy nature of contemporary authorship. If reading NSN helps her escape, if only briefly, from the pressures of campus life, then well and good !

From Gadepalli Subrahmanyam

You can take a horse to water, but cannot make it drink.

Unless one reads even a single work of Nevil Shute, no reader can be addicted, as we, NS fans are. For this to happen, perhaps the best book to start new readership is "Trustee from toolroom". This has all the drama, human touch, persistence, and most important - readability. All NS fans must try to advocate reading of this work, to make the youngsters another set of NS fans.

For us, avid NS readers, all his novels have equal value, but with beginners, perhaps this novel would be ideal.


From David Vaughan

I thought you might be interested in seeing this e-mail that I just received from ABE Books: On the Beach is one of their top ten "depressing reads."

From John Lorenz John

I seem to re-read my collection of 25 Nevil Shute novels (well, one is a play and one the autobiography, so actually 23 novels) every decade....starting in 1964. They only grow better with time, or perhaps I have, in that I appreciate them more with every read. The style, the characters and the plots become more enhanced and more enduring to me with every re-reading.

This week I did a fifth re-reading of "The Rainbow and the Rose" and "Requiem for a Wren", and a fourth reread of "The Seafarers". I guess I read that one every two years, thanks for your big part in giving birth to it, Dan. What a gem. Wish there were more hidden away somewhere.

I guess if I was forced to pinpoint just one to recommend to a non-Shutist, it might be "The Trustee From the Tool Room". Or maybe "Pied Piper" or "No Highway". So hard to choose. It would not be "On the Beach", but rather an uplifting one.

I really feel there is no author one can say is NS's equal. However a close second might be the wonderful book "The Big House", by George Colt, which I recommend to anyone who has had a family home (especially a summer home) for several decades. And also, the The Brotherhood of War series and The Corps series, both by W E B Griffin, each a series of 9 volumes which should be read in sequence. One needs a box of kleenex handy for the heroism and honor and self-sacrifice displayed by the characters in those two series, often very similar to the heroes of the NS books, at least to me.

You may recall there is a group picture of NS's Balliol College, Oxford class which I sent in to the Society several years ago. It is on my wall here in Maine, because my father was also in the class and the photo. The Society had a "contest" to see who could identify Nevil Shute.

From Father Daniel Beegan D.D

A dear adult friend, Capt. Willis E. McCraw Jr. USAAF (ret) introduced me to Mr. Norway's books in the 1960's, when I was but a child. I devoured them, along with the science fiction of Robert Heinlein, another favorite of Capt. Bill.

My goal now is to collect every novel Nevil Shute ever wrote, since the public libraries, at least in the USA, are winnowing his books out of their collections. I used to have a ritual of reading all the books every year as an inspiration and as a reassurance of the basic goodness of man. He may not have been the world's greatest writer, but his characters were some of the world's finest people.

I was delighted as I surfed the internet last night to learn there are like-minded people joined together in the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation.

From Webmaster and UK librarian. All the novels are in stock in the UK library, and most are available for sale at E-Bay is also a useful source.

From Chris and Penny Morton

Members who attended our presentation at the 2001 gathering in Frankston, Victoria, might be interested in an update regarding our boat, "An Old Captivity".

Born in the U.K., my introduction to "our favourite storyteller" was in 1953, reading "In the Wet", as a high school student in Edmonton, Alberta, after spending two years living in the far north of New Zealand. Chris, born in Jamaica of British parents and growing up in Ontario and Manitoba, became an equally avid Shute fan following our 1958 marriage in the U.S. We thoroughly enjoyed "everything Shute", eventually collecting at least one copy of everything he'd written, re-reading them repeatedly over the years.

After migrating to Australia in 1977 and owning several smaller yachts in the past, we decided to build a 30-foot traditional design timber gaff cutter, on our front lawn near the Queensland border in New South Wales. The six-and-a -half-year project fulfilled a lifelong dream and had a name even before construction began - "An Old Captivity". We'd identified strongly with Haki and Hekja in Shute's "Vinland the Good" and "An Old Captivity". Intrigued by Shute's interest in reincarnation, plus the fact those two characters were real people, mentioned by name in the great Viking Sagas, our beloved boat was an embodiment of this captivation.

We had ten enjoyable years of sailing aboard "A.O.C.", mostly weekends and short holidays off the east coast of Australia, but it wasn't until retirement that we looked forward to more extensive cruising. Combining a our first visit to Tasmania ("Rainbow and the Rose" country) with a memorable week attending "OZ2001", we decided Tassie's cooler climate and pristine waters would suit us nicely. Retiring in 2002-3, we relocated to southern Tasmania, with Chris and his three crew sailing "A.O.C." the 1,135 nautical miles from Brisbane down Australia's east coast and across Bass Strait to her new home.

Sadly, our dreams of idyllic carefree sailing have not been fulfilled, due to Chris' unexpected health problems, so the dreaded decision faced us, to part with our lovely boat, into which we'd poured so much of ourselves, plus the precious details linked with Shute's tales. We spent two years advertising her for sale, with many prospective buyers not only revealing their Shute interests, but also recognizing her from my articles published in sailing magazines. We weren't willing to sacrifice her, so the process dragged on for months.

Now, at last, we have a buyer. Importantly, she is likeable and a Shute fan. She's Canadian-Australian, retired from the police force, living half the year in Canada, half in Tasmania. Her base here is only a few miles down the road, so we will still see our boat from time to time. We will retain happy memories of an all-consuming project which brought us much joy, some heartache, and introduced us to a stimulating group of new friends during "OZ2001" . "An Old Captivity" will now be moored in Dover, a picturesque waterside village in far south Tasmania.

Editor: I have been looking on the site of the designer of "An Old Captivity", Mark Smaalders and he has some photo's of Chris and Penny's boat on his site:

From Gail Field

ATLA is currently on Fox Classics followed by interviews with Virginia McKenna and the director. Knowing Fox Classics, this will be repeated over the next couple of weeks if people want to look out for it.

From Chris Philips

As a reaction to the item by Paul Spoff in the October Newsletter:

A Commodore is a well-known cocktail, which, according to my research, is usually made from "blended whiskey, lemons, powdered sugar and orange bitters" (thought there are varieties).

But I also can find no reference to Bebeda Commodore in the Internet. However, "bebida" is Portuguese for "drink", so I guess that someone, somewhere, somewhen, heard someone else say "Posso ter um bebida Commodore, por favor." (Can I have a Commodore drink, please), perhaps because he/she did not know that "cocktail" in Portuguese is ... "cocktail" ! So the hearer thought that the drink was called a "Bebeda Commodore". Whether that hearer was NS or whether the drink was called that in his hearing, who knows !

From John Anderson

In the Wet looks to the future of the Queen 30 years after the novel was written in 1952. Recently I have been thinking, not about the Queen, but her father King George VI who died just as Shute was writing the book. Consider the following:-

  • Both King George VI and Nevil Shute were born in the last decade of the nineteenth century. (The King was born in the same year as Shute's older brother Fred)
  • Both served in the Navy, the King in World War I, Shute in World war II
  • Both suffered from a stammer, making public speaking difficult.
  • Both had two daughters, the older one being more serious, the younger one more capricious
  • In 1937 Airspeed made an Envoy aircraft for the King's Flight which was used by George VI.
  • Legend has it that Shute wrote to the King about a specific injustice and got some action taken on it.
  • Like most of his generation, Shute would have greatly admired the King for his steadfastness during the War.

Shute was a confirmed Monarchist, as "In The Wet" shows. When he emigrated in 1950 he chose a country, Australia, that was part of the Commonwealth with the Monarch as head of state.

From Nancy Anderson

On 30th September Nevil Shute Norway was inducted into Frankston (Victoria, Australia) City Hall of Fame; I was highly privileged to be invited to receive the award on behalf of his daughter, Heather and family.

The induction ceremony followed the Hall of Fame induction dinner "to formally recognise, honour and pay tribute to individuals from Frankston who have made a lasting and significant contribution to broader society in their field of specialisation at a national or international level".

200 people were present including members of parliament, Frankston City Councillors, friends of all 8 recipients and the TV presenter who acted as Master of Ceremonies.

I was accompanied by Fred Greenwood and daughter Lisa (Fred was Nevil's farm manager), a neighbour who had lived in Robinsons Road and also attended St Thomas' church during the 1950's, 2 ladies who had helped at the Nevil Shute Convention in 2001, a very keen novel reader and 2 ladies who had submitted to Frankston City the name of Nevil Shute Norway to be included in the Hall of Fame.

The plaque comprises a 14cm (6") square photograph of Mr. Norway fixed to a 40cm (16") piece of polished granite which bears the text explaining the honour in gold script.

The whole of the ceremony and the evening was conducted in a manner which paid fitting tribute to Mr. Norway and I feel honoured and privileged to have been asked to accept the award.

Nancy is our OZ librarian

From John Homersham

I have just started reading a "Town Like Alice". Unlike many modern novels it has a plot which flows in a linear progression, even with it's flashbacks. It is very well written and crafted.

I can see why in its time it would have been a major critical and popular success and why it should remain so today.

One thing strikes me as strange. I have tried to find an answer but have been unable to do so. Why does the author refer to alligators rather than crocodiles ? Details about Australia at the time of writing seem to me to be meticulously researched. I am sure this could not have been an error. Was it done to avoid confusion for readers outside Australia ? Was it a popular misconception at the time ? What is the reason ?

Any help would be appreciated.


From the Netherlands, where it is pouring with rain at the moment, see you all next month.

Joost Meulenbroek


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


Gadepalli Subrahmanyam Vizianagaram


Robert Davis


Håkan Larsson lives in Löberöd


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, 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