Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated November 2014

Letters to the Editor

From Alison Jenner

News of our next conference

This will take place in Balliol College, Oxford, during the week Sunday, 30 August - Friday 04 September, 2015. The event will commence with registration and a reception in the Old Common Room. There will be three full days of conference activities based within the college, and two days of excursions, one local to Oxford and the other to the Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft and to Bletchley Park, wartime home of the Enigma code breakers. Our banquet will take place in the Great Hall, overlooked by portraits of former college Masters through the ages.

For hard-core Shutists like me, who want to savour the experience to the full, there will be some ensuite rooms available in the College itself, in the comfortable but rather more austere student surroundings our favourite author would have recognised; we have also arranged to have rooms available to book at the nearby Hotel Mercure, just a short walk away on Merton Street. Some of the rooms there overlook the Examination Schools, where Shute would have taken his finals. The College also has a partnership with the Randolph Hotel, where Shute is known to have stayed, and some members may wish to avail themselves of their more luxurious facilities.

Further details will be available shortly, with online booking for the conference itself and links to the accommodation of your choice.

We shall also be seeking conference speakers so those wishing to speak, please let me have a short abstract of your talk for consideration as soon as possible. We have had great speakers at every conference and I am confident that the calibre will be as high next year.

One last point: there is so much to see in and around Oxford and the surrounding region that we strongly advise visitors to consider arriving earlier (or staying later) than the conference week, which will be packed with activity, to be sure of being able to see some amazing sights. There are World Heritage Sites within easy reach of our venue and quintessentially British scenery all around. I always take a second week at an overseas conference to explore and fellow conference members' recommendations invariably make me glad that I do.

Looking forward to a great week next year !

From Paul Spoff

I'm cleaning house--yup, that's right, my junque must go. Yes, I know that that means my dear and treasured friends, my Nevil Shute collection. Now comes the problem, how do I dispose of them? There must be someone in this group that needs all 27 volumes. Yes, a couple of duplicates.

There are three hard backs, Seafarers --Slide Rule (1954 with repaired dust jacket) The Far Country- and the rest are paper backs, some in fair condition many in good condition--ALL ARE WELL READ. One or two surprises.

What's the price you may ask, well a million dollars or your first born. Yeah, I know, NO ONE EVER GOES FOR THE MILLION DOLLARS and everyone wants to send me their first born, ALAS. I would appreciate any help you can give on shipping or picking them up.

Got into Shute back in High School 1956. Someone had left The Far Country on a counter in study hall. I started reading it and was instantly hooked. Picked up a few editions while in the Army in Germany, and of course over the years more and more. I think I've got them all.

Anyways, let me know--I will try to be fair about it and hope the same from you.

Paul Spoff

503 Under Brook Ct.

Westerville, Ohio 43081

From Peter Monteith

Hi, I wonder if anyone can tell me a bit about an English author by the name of Tasman Beattie? I'm only asking here because of a number of characteristics of his life and work that he shares with NSN.

I read his book "A Thousand Skies" about the life of Charles Kingsford Smith a few years ago, and particularly liked the way he set up the story from the point of view of a reporter living in Albany, Western Australia. A Thousand Skies was subsequently filmed as a mini series in Australia.

This is all I have found out about him:-

He was born in 1920, so presumably is no longer with us. He wrote 7 books between 1977 and 1988, the first five of which were mystery/thrillers with an aviation background. The last two were "biographical fiction", of which A Thousand Skies was one. I also have his second book, "Panic Button" (1978), which is set in South East Asia, and the blurb inside the back cover contains the only real biographical detail I've been able to find. It reads; "Tasman Beattie has been flying professionally for more than twenty years, and his job has taken him to many of the more remote corners of Africa and South-East Asia. His wide travelling experience is reflected in the utterly authentic locations he evokes in his books. Captain Beattie was born in the United Kingdom, with strong family connections in Australia, and has also lived in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. He and his Australian wife at present live in central Africa."

That's all I can find. From the little I've read I think he's a fine writer who would be appreciated by many in this group. Would appreciate any further information that anyone can furnish. Thanks.

From Chris and Penny Morton

NOTE TO TAS2013 PARTICIPANTS; while going through the conference material for long term storage, we found a white muslin carry bag from New Norcia in West Australia. If it belongs to one of the conference participants, we will be glad to mail it to you.

From John Cooper

I thought "Shutists" might be interested in this play. It is almost as if Ruined City/ Kindling has been brought to the stage. If any are in New York, it would be well worth seeing.

"You may be tempted upon leaving Sting's Broadway musical "The Last Ship" to head straight to a pub to drain a pint and sing some sea shanties. Or maybe go weld something. Or do both."

"The show is Sting's semi-autobiographical story about a prodigal son who returns to his northern England shipbuilding town to reclaim the girl — and a son — he abandoned when he fled 15 years before. The shipyard, meanwhile, is closing and the workers are divided over the future. The show is about loss and letting go."

"The project began as a CD and PBS concert special before it was turned into a stage version. Sting drew on his childhood, growing up in Newcastle's Wallsend neighborhood, near the Swan Hunter shipyards."

Here is more on Sting's play:

Setting Course to Reclaim the Past

Sting's “The Last Ship” Opens on Broadway


The New York Times

Theater and Play Web Site

Sting's connection to Swan Hunter is also coincidental

Swan Hunter History

"Between the wars, when many shipbuilding businesses succumbed to the difficult economic conditions prevailing at that time, the Company continued to trade. By keen and competitive prices, by keeping abreast of and often sponsoring the latest technical developments and by the pursuit of forward looking policies by the Directors, the Company maintained its position in the vanguard of shipbuilding enterprise."

There is no reference in this History to Airspeed and Nevil Shute except to write “sponsoring the latest technical developments,”


From the Netherlands, where the weather is still great. See you all next month.