Book Review

1921 Oxford Summer Holidays: Shute works at Airco which has now become De Havillands and moved, in 1921, to Stag Lane. At De Havillands Shute first meets Alan Cobham and Hessel Tiltman. Geoffrey De Havilland takes Shute up in a DH6 to demonstrate stability.

1922 Early: Shute's fiance leaves him for a man that Shute describes as "very much below her socially" and probably an English "Liberal". Shute is very distressed and later says he was unhappy for two years.

1922 Summer: Shute graduates from Oxford with a 3rd Class Honours Degree in Engineering.

1922 Summer: Spends a month cruising with friends.

1922 Summer: Shute holidays in Bordighera, Italy with his parents. Writes his first short story. Unpublished.

1923 Early: Shute moves to 29 Stag Lane Edgeware Middlesex. It is very near De Havillands.

1923 Shute writes "Stephen Morris" in his spare time.

1923 January: Shute joins De Havillands.

1923 Spring Shute learns to fly at De Havillands on an Avro 504. He gets his Royal Aero Club certificate in February 1924.

1923 July 10: Mr and Mrs Norway buy a house at Liss off the Portsmouth Road near Petersfield. They own it until September 29 1927. The proximity to Petersfield probably leads Shute to meet Flora Twort.

1923 1923 Late: Shute meets artist Flora Twort (1893-1985) at No. 1 The Square Petersfield which is a bookshop and the centre of an art colony run by Harry Roberts. Twort, then aged 30, and 2 other young women are working there. Shute attempts an unfinished history or fictional history called "No. 1 The Square Petersfield".

1923 June - September: Shute receives at least 3 rejections of "Stephen Morris" at 29 Stag Lane. He shelves the book. It is published posthumously in 1961.

1923 September 23: Shute mentions in a letter that he has a broken arm.

1923 September: The DH53 Hummingbird for which Shute designs the propeller first flies. Built for the 1923 Daily Mail trials at Lympne, it is 19.9 feet long, has a wing span of 30 feet, weights 565 pounds and has a top speed of 72 mph.

1924 Early: Shute writes "Pilotage" in 14 weeks.

1924 June - August: Shute receives at least 6 rejections of "Pilotage" at 29 Stag Lane Edgeware Middlesex. He shelves the book. It is published posthumously in 1961.

1924 Autumn: Seeing no prospects of promotion, Shute leaves De Havillands.

1924 Autumn: Shute joins the Vickers R100 team. They are building the "Capitalist" airship in competition with the government run Cardington team building the R101. Shute is employed as Chief Calculator. He is the head of a team that constitutes a human computer calculating the engineering stresses in R100.

1924 After August: Shute moves to 43 Hatherly Rd Sidcup, Kent, where he lives while design on R100 continues for a year in Craysford in Kent, "a depressing industrial suburb". Shute rides horses daily at dawn on Chiselhurst Common.

1924 September - Spring 1926: Somewhere in this period Shute writes "Piuro": a short story about a real landslide in Italy in 1618 that buried a town. Alternatively this is possibly the same story he wrote in the Summer of 1922 on his Italian holiday..

1924 September to 1939: Somewhere in this period Shute writes "Before The Mail". It is an unfinished, documentary style, narrative about someone who went on a dangerous flight. It seems like a pre-cursor to "Pilotage" but the chronology is hard to fix. The story often mentions Sidcup.

1924 - 26 Shute writes "Marazan" over 18 months and with 3 complete re-writes.

1925 September 26: Shute proposes to Flora Twort but is rejected.

1925 September 28: Shute writes Flora a letter explaining his earlier engagement and detailing his attitude to marriage. His signature "Shute" suggests he had revealed his writings to her. They remain life-long friends.

1925 September 30: Shute writes Flora a second letter responding to hers. Flora has revealed she may be unable to have children and has also had a failed love affair that she is not yet over. Shute reveals that he has hurt is knee and is convalescing.

1926 Spring: Shute moves to Howden with the R100 team. He originally lives with a garage proprietor 3 miles from the airfield and walks to work each day. He later lives in a rented room in a house at 78 Hailgate in Howden..

1926 June 15 - 16: Shute and a Mr Temple attend tests to destruction at Birmingham University on 8 experimental girders for R100 manufactured by Airship Guarantee Company Ltd at Crayford.

1926 September 17: Nevil Shute Norway Sir Denniston(sic) Burney, Barnes Wallis and John Edwin Temple file for a patent titled "Improvements in or relating to Airships". It is about structural design of airships.

1926 "Marazan" is published using the name Nevil Shute.

1926 - 28 Shute writes and rewrites "So Disdained" over 18 months.

1926 - 30 Shute buys a Morris Cowley 2 seater.

1926 - 30 Shute writes several short stories while in York at the address 7 Clifton York. "Tudor Windows," "Down the Humber in a Motor Cruiser", "Knightly Vigil". He may have used his club as his postal address regardless of where he lived.

1926 - 30 Shute joins and becomes Secretary of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club at Sherburn-in-Elmet aerodrome where he later meets his wife-to-be Frances. He hits a fence on landing and flips onto the runway.

1926 October 26: On behalf of the Airship Guarantee Company Shute attends structural tests at Birmingham University on Transverse and Longitudinal "Spiders" of the R100.

1926 1926 November 02: On behalf of the Airship Guarantee Company Shute attends repeat structural tests on a transverse "spider" of the R100. The test on the October 26 seems to have shown the transverse spider to be too weak and increased gauge material was incorporated prior to the test on the November 02.

1926 December: The 1st polygonal ring of girders for R100 being 110' in diameter (the widest was 130') was hung.

1928 February 09: On behalf of the Airship Guarantee Company Shute attends structural tests on R100 nuts and unions at Leeds University.

1928 "So Disdained" is published.

1929 January 11: Shute attends a conference with Barnes Wallis, Sir Denistoun Burney, Bairstow and Major Bishop to discuss the condition of the R100 structure where Duralumin corrosion is evident. Longitudinal girder "H" Stbd. in Bay 5 is chosen as representative of the worst condition and it is decided to remove this and test to the requirements of the Airworthiness Authority at Birmingham University.

1929 February 13: Shute and Barnes Wallis attend an Airworthiness Test at Birmingham University on a longitudinal girder section of the R100. Two test specimens of the "H" Stbd, Bay No. 5 girder were taken and this test was on the first of these.

1929 February 14: Shute attends a test on the second R100 girder specimen as the only representative of the Airship Guarantee Company.

1929 Summer: R100s gasbags are inflated.

1929 Autumn: Shute is officially made Deputy Chief Engineer of R100.

1929 Autumn ?: Shute moves into the St Leonards club in York and drives 20 miles to work each day.

1929 October: The government's R101 flies but performs poorly. It is dismantled to insert extra gasbags and lengthened.

1929 November: World Economic Depression begins.

1929 November: R100 is finished.

1929 December 16: R100 Flies. Its Top speed is 81mph and it Cruises at 70mph. Performance is above specifications.

1929 As Secretary of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club, Shute hires Harry Worrall as Instructor. Harry had been Alan Cobham's co-pilot. Shute admires Harry tremendously and considers him an archetypal and ideal pilot. Shute describes Harry glowingly in Slide Rule and his good points are mirrored in The Rainbow and The Rose.

1930 January: Shute now has a Singer Coupe car.

1930 Early: Hessell Tiltman joins the R100 design staff from De Havillands.

1930 June: R100s tail is cut to correct a minor design fault.

1930 July 29: R100 leaves for Canada and arrives in Montreal in 78 hours with an average speed of 42mph for 3,300 miles.

1930 Summer: Shute becomes engaged to Frances Mary Heaton. Frances is a doctor at York Hospital.

1930 August 16: (Saturday): R100 returns to Cardington and is put back in its hangar never to fly again.

1930 October 03: Shute is warned by Sir Dennistoun Burney that the Airship Program may not go ahead. Two days later this prophecy is vindicated.

1930 October 05 Sunday at 0210: The Government's R101 crashes in flames at Beauvais, France. The airship program is now doomed.

1930 October: Shute waits hours in London streets with 500,000 others to see the R101 dead pass by. The R100 team are not invited to the funeral.

1930 November 01: Shute and all the R100 staff are given one month's notice.

1930 Autumn Shute and Tiltman discuss forming an aircraft company.

1930 December 11: R100 is deflated and "hung" in the shed.

1930 - 31 Winter: Shute starts writing "Lonely Road" in in the St Leonards Club, York

1930 - 31 Winter: Shute looks for backers for Airspeed.

Nevil Shute Norway