Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Photo TimeLine

1951 - 1960 page 1

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1950 - 1951 : Shute visits the Mt Buller area researching "The Far Country" and stays at the Merrijig pub and writes notes. He is reserved but popular with the locals.

Judy and Peter McCormack
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Judy and Peter McCormack live on a property at Merrijig, Victoria. In 1951 Peter met Nevil Shute who based Jack Dorman in The Far Country on Peter's father. Peter is a perfect Jack Dorman himself. Judy and Peter named their property Leonora after Jack Dorman's property in the book. (Photo: RM 2000)

Shute stayed at The Hunt Club Hotel at Merrijig for about 10 days in early 1951. He used to sit on the verandah making notes and drinking from a large jug of water. The schoolchildren on horseback that are mentioned in The Far Country rode past him each day to the school next door. In 2000 it was revealed that some of the children had thought that Shute was drinking whisky all day. The old pub has since been replaced by a 1970s structure. The painting is at the new Hunt Club Hotel in Merrijig, Victoria, Australia. (Photo: RM 2000) The Hunt Club Hotel at Merrijig
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Fred Fry's Hut by the Howqua River
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Shute stayed here in Fred Fry's Hut by the Howqua River in early 1951. Fred Fry was virtually identical to Billy Slim. The hut and the surroundings are accurately described in "The Far Country". The Howqua River was named after a brand of Tea. (Photo: RM 2000)

Shute either saw or at least heard about this map of the long disappeared town of Howqua. A few holiday houses have been built since Shute's visit in early 1951. The X marks Billy Slim's Hut that really belonged to Fred Fry. Above the hut you can see where the ford crossed the river below the steep hill mentioned in the novel. In "The Far Country" Shute placed a lot of the town on Billy Slims side but in fact it was all on the hilly opposite bank. Parts of the wire rope bridge were still there in the early 1970s. You can now drive to this location via Merrijig, Victoria. ( DSC ) Map showing location of Howqua
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January 07 1951 : "Round The Bend" is serialized in the Sydney Morning Herald. In the introduction Shute is said to be among the 3 Top Selling Writers in The British Commonwealth and he earns $30,000.00 a year from America alone.

Illustration of Shute from the Sydney Morning Herald
A 1951 Illustration of Shute accompanying a serialization of "Round The Bend" in the Sydney Morning Herald. ( SMH )

Val Biro did several covers for the Heinemann English and Australian editions of Shute's books starting with Round the Bend in 1951.
He also did covers for Requiem For a Wren, The Far Country, In The Wet and Beyond The Black Stump. Shute was a fan of Val's work. Val is pictured attending the 2004 launch of the John Stanley book about the Exbury plane crash which inspired Requiem For a Wren / The Breaking Wave. Val is wearing a badge based on his cover for Requiem.
Val's website is at:
( DDT 2004 )
Val Biro

March 1951 : Shute starts writing "The Far Country".
May 11 1951 : Shute is making notes for "In The Wet".
May - November 1951 : While planning "In The Wet", Shute makes notes to buy " 12" 35watt straight Osram architectural (fluorescent tubes that are) 229mm (wide) to edge of holders" for his model workshop. Modern fluorescent lighting is mentioned in "Trustee From The Toolroom".
1951 : Shutes plane Item Willie is shipped from England to Australia and set up at Essendon Airport.
1951 : "Round The Bend" is published.
1951 : Shute has either a heart attack or a bad case of wind near Mornington, Victoria. He sees a doctor.

Jimmy EDwards and his family Nevil Shute at Strathmore Station, Queensland in 1951. He was the guest of Jimmie "Ringer" Edwards on whom he had, after first meeting him in 1948, modelled Joe Harman in "A Town Like Alice". ( BJBC ) Nevil Shute at Strathmore Station, Queensland

Jimmie Jnr son of Ringer Edwards
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Standing on a pig that has had the enviable honour of being shot by Nevil Shute, is Jimmie Jnr who was Jimmie "Ringer" Edwards son. Apparently Nevil rather unsportingly shot the pig as it walked past the back door of Strathmore Station in Queensland in 1951. ( BJBC )

Mid 1951 : Around this time Shute has yet another crippling chest pain and, the doctors finding no cause, decides to give up flying. In hospital for 3 weeks he reflects on his life.
July 31 1951 : "The Far Country" is finished.
1951 : The film of "No Highway" is released under the title "No Highway" in the UK and "No Highway in The Sky" in the US. Produced by Louis D. Lighton at 20th Century Fox it was directed by Henry Kostner and starred James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich and Glynnis Johns.

Nevil and Frances (both centre) with members of Shute's London publishing firm after a private screening of the film of "No Highway" in Sydney on October 22 1951. ( SMH ) Nevil and Frances at No Highway Party
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