Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated October 2010


From Laura Schneider

Seattle is set!

I am pleased to announce that The Red Lion on 5th Avenue is our hotel/conference venue for next September's Nevil Shute Norway Conference. The Red Lion is in the heart of Downtown Seattle and accessible to everything. There is a restaurant and bar in the hotel that lead out an outdoor patio with a beautiful view of Puget Sound. Another lovely feature is the English Pub beneath the hotel.

There will be a direct hotel registration link to The Red Lion and you will be able to make your reservations online. We will have a special conference code with our special conference rate. This link will be up and running by the time November's newsletter comes out.

Check out The Red Lion at

The conference is less than a year away !

From Michael Kennedy

I enjoyed "Most Secret" quite a bit and have one suggestion for those who might be interested in a somewhat similar book. This one is non-fiction and is titled "Between Silk and Cyanide." It is the true story of the SOE during the war written by a young man with an exceptional sense of humor considering the subject. It came out recently only because of the secrecy rules that required a delay of 50 years before publication. It has quite a bit about cryptography and decrypting messages, many of them from our own agents who had made typographical errors, rendering the message maddeningly cryptic in the worst meaning of the word. I'm sure Neville Shute would have enjoyed the book for its combination of war history and its details of methods. The silk was used for one-time code pads as it could easily be concealed. Cyanide was for those occasions when concealment failed.

From Richard Mickalak

Dear Shutists.

The 1945 review in the last newsletter from the Salopian, Shrewsbury school's magazine, suggests that Pastoral would make a good film.

In the national library archives in Canberra lies a script written in 1945 by Shute for a film of pastoral.

Carol Reed, who directed the iconic The Third Man was down as a possible director.

The awful part is that the prospective producer decided, in 1945, the public were completely sick of war movies and the project was shelved.

WW2 war movies then went on being made regularly for the next 25 years but no one made Pastoral because one idiot said war movies were finished.

Which only goes to confirm what top Hollywood screenwriter, William Goldman, said about all predictions in film making: "No one knows anything !"

Hope you are all well.

From Sherill Anderson

Hi all ! Fellow Nevil Shute fans. I just finished rereading Most Secret. I see inside the front cover that I bought it for $1.75 in 1959. It was originally published in 1945 and was a used book when I got it. This edition was published by The Sun Dial Press, Garden City, New York. The paper looks soft and cheap which I surmise might be due to it being just at the close of WWII.

What a great story ! It would make a super action movie (with a little love interest).

From Mustafa Kamal

Editor: Mr. Kamal send a very interesting email to Gadepalli Subrahmanyan, which is published below.

I noted that in 2008 newsletter that you suggested that NSN novels be updated for the next generation of readers. I most humbly agreed with that particularly with engineering students now that are tied down with their electronics gadgets but get lost when they are simpler ways of computation. Mind you not faster but just as effective.

I wondered instead of the characters what if the planes and avionics were upgraded and how would the characaters act instead ? Perhaps with jet planes, the plots might become high-tech thrillers ? He was spot on with the novel ON THE BEACH with the nuclear sub though.

I voiced this because I am teaching crisis management in my chemical engineering masters course at my malaysian university and the case-study is the flight of the vulcan 607 from Ascension Island to the Falklands as part of the class crisis games. I remarked to my class that they should also consider the maps, instruments and calculators available at that time in 1980's to make the game more realistic.

To my utter surprise when I showed them my slide rule they were astounded (I graduated from Birmingham University in 1983 so the slide rule was on its way out but still around.) This got me on the www and I noted about NSN autobiography "SLIDE RULE" and decided to google his works. The pic on the slide rule is very bad and I hope you will indulge me by revealing this since I am a small collector of slide rules among other pre-digital things.

I contacted you instead of the society since you are nearer to Malaysia. Feel free to pass on this to the NSN society.

I have found from NSN books especially the mid-east airline story conveyed much the thrill and delights of engineering and management in flying that I hope to convey to my students. Hence my future interest in NSN books and works.

I have no intention yet of joining up since I am not sure of contribution. My admiration of NSN was that the was rare man of literature and engineering and could convey both aspects interchangeably and simply in good, simple english and I am sure in maths. Such combination are rare indeed. If the sentiments and emotions of his engineering and flying novels could be appreciated and replicated by todays young engineers that the world will be a richer, diverse and happier place to live in. His heroes are morally and mathematically right.

I thank you for your time and patience. Please feel free to email me on NSN affairs and maybe I will be inspired to contribute my humble thoughts to NSN society.

From John Anderson


5th October 2010 marks the 80th Anniversary of the crash of the R.101 airship near Beauvais in France. It has been described as British aviation's equivalent of the Titanic. Of those on board only 6 survived. It was, at the time, a national tragedy for Britain. It was a tragedy too for Nevil Shute. Just two months before he had been on the successful flight of R.100 to Montreal and back as a representative of the constructors, the Airship Guarantee Company (AGC). He was Chief Engineer, in all but name, of AGC, earning a very good salary of over £800 a year at the age of 31. He would have felt, on his return from Canada, that AGC would be very well placed to gain further contracts for airship work. He was already working on the design of a much larger Atlantic ship and had a close working relationship with Sir Dennis Burney the Managing Director of AGC. On the strength of his secure position and good prospects, Nevil and Frances Heaton got engaged to be married. They formally announced their engagement on 7th September 1930, just a few weeks after his return from Canada.

Nevil Shute's secure position with its potentially good prospects went up in the flames that destroyed R.101. At the end of October the Air Ministry told AGC that their current design contract would not be renewed. Burney informed Shute that all work at Howden would cease on 30th November. By the end of 1930 Shute was out of a job and with little prospect of earning any income until he could get Airspeed set up and in production and that was many months away.


David B. Horvath send me an interesting link:

Philip Nixon send me an email a couple of days ago, that his Twitter blog Item Willy almost had 100 followers. If you are not yet a follower, I suggest you become one. It's fun. You can find Item Willy at:

As I write this, Item Willy has 106 followers.

From the Netherlands, where it is cold and wet, see you all next month.