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With What Joy We Write of the New Russian Government

Ferdinand Mount: Arthur Ransome, 24 September 2009

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Roland Chambers.
Faber, 390 pp., £20, August 2009, 978 0 571 22261 2
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... Ransome, when he turned up, proved to be an amiable and attractive man, with a luxuriant blond soup-strainer moustache, a rubicund complexion, a large mouth from which more often than not a pipe protruded, and a hearty disposition.’ Malcolm Muggeridge immediately took to Arthur Ransome when he first met him in Cairo in 1929 ...

Bolsheviks and Bohemians

Angus Calder, 5 April 1984

The Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Hugh Brogan.
Cape, 456 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 224 02010 2
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Bohemia in London 
by Arthur Ransome, introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Oxford, 284 pp., £3.50, January 1984, 0 19 281412 5
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... habits a few years later, when naming one of his most effective poems ‘The Penny Whistle’. Arthur Ransome in turn may well have recalled that poem, which evokes a charcoal-burners’ camp at night, when in 1930 he had the four Walker children, his ‘Swallows’, meet the two Billies, an ancient man and his elderly son, at work in the woods above ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... Sawrey and the dale of Newlands, settles there finally and specialises in native breeds of sheep. Arthur Ransome writes stories set in Coniston (and elsewhere) and inspires me and many thousands of other children with tales about families learning to camp and sail and climb and skate and smelt copper. Such for Thompson are the prime markers in the ...

At the Shore

Inigo Thomas, 30 August 2018

... and Ipswich. On its southern shore, halfway between the two towns, is Pin Mill, a village where Arthur Ransome lived. The inn at Pin Mill is called the Butt and Oyster: through its windows you see boats that at low tide rest on the sandy, seaweed-covered shore. Some of them are flat-bottomed Thames barges, the type of sailing boat that once traded ...

Between Jesus and Napoleon

Jonathan Haslam: The Paris Conference of 1919, 15 November 2001

Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War 
by Margaret MacMillan.
Murray, 574 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5939 1
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... influenza sweeping through postwar Europe. ‘England may seem to you untouched,’ Lenin warned Arthur Ransome, ‘but the microbe is already there.’ It turned out, of course, that in Europe Fascism succeeded where Communism failed. Mayer’s conclusions may not have fully withstood the criticism directed against them, but his more general concern ...

They saw him coming

Neal Ascherson: The Lockhart Plot, 5 November 2020

The Lockhart Plot: Love, Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-­Revolution in Lenin’s Russia 
by Jonathan Schneer.
Oxford, 331 pp., £25, July 2020, 978 0 19 885298 8
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... in the war. In Moscow, he formed a close alliance with the American Raymond Robins and a young Arthur Ransome, far the best-informed foreign correspondent in the country. Robins, a personal envoy of Woodrow Wilson’s, urged full recognition of the Bolshevik regime. Ransome, who knew the team around Lenin and had ...


Jenny Diski: Caroline Blackwood, 18 October 2001

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood 
by Nancy Schoenberger.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 297 84101 7
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... were given titbits to eat by their Irish tenants, who felt sorry for them. Like children in an Arthur Ransome or C.S. Lewis novel, they rambled unnoticed around the great house and were given to taking off on their bicycles up the main road to the nearby town. It is well known in the world of fairytale and post-Freudian analysis that it is not a good ...

No More Scissors and Paste

Mary Beard: R.G. Collingwood, 25 March 2010

History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood 
by Fred Inglis.
Princeton, 385 pp., £23.95, 0 691 13014 0
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... sons and grandsons of William Wordsworth were still prominent in the local community, and where Arthur Ransome was a frequent visitor to the Collingwood family home. Inglis, in fact, hazards a guess that R.G. was the inspiration for the elder brother, John Walker, in Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. True or ...

Good Books

Marghanita Laski, 1 October 1981

The Promise of Happiness 
by Fred Inglis.
Cambridge, 333 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 521 23142 6
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The Child and the Book 
by Nicholas Tucker.
Cambridge, 259 pp., £15, March 1981, 0 521 23251 1
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The Impact of Victorian Children’s Fiction 
by J.S. Bratton.
Croom Helm, 230 pp., £11.95, July 1981, 0 07 099777 2
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Children’s Literature. Vol. IX 
edited by Francelia Butler, Samuel Pickering, Milla Riggio and Barbara Rosen.
Yale, 241 pp., £17.35, March 1981, 0 300 02623 4
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The ‘Signal’ Approach to Children’s Books 
edited by Nancy Chambers.
Kestrel, 352 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7226 5641 6
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... Inglis begins unequivocally, ‘are Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Arthur Ransome, William Mayne and Philippa Pearce.’) What they may be charged with is not treating this fact with the seriousness it deserves: not, indeed, considering even the possibility that it might be wise to revise the whole view of fiction in its ...

My Books

Ian Patterson, 4 July 2019

... my pocket money went on books – Billy Bunter, Jennings, William, War Picture Library, Biggles, Arthur Ransome, bird books. In the 1950s I used to order Puffin books by post from the catalogue, the pleasure of unwrapping the parcel rivalling the discovery of a new book in a Christmas stocking. For my ninth or tenth birthday I asked for a glass-fronted ...

A Few Home Truths

Jonathan Rée: R.G. Collingwood, 19 June 2014

R.G. Collingwood: ‘An Autobiography’ and Other Writings, with Essays on Collingwood’s Life and Work 
edited by David Boucher and Teresa Smith.
Oxford, 581 pp., £65, December 2013, 978 0 19 958603 5
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... to their own devices’, doing the sorts of thing that would later be re-created by their friend Arthur Ransome in Swallows and Amazons. Collingwood remembered exploring the countryside on foot or by bike or in a little boat called Swallow, learning to recognise plants, rocks, wildlife and stars. He would also accompany his father on increasingly ...

The Clothes They Stood Up In

Alan Bennett, 28 November 1996

... The Ransomes had been burgled. ‘Robbed,’ Mrs Ransome said. ‘Burgled,’ Mr Ransome corrected. Premises were burgled; persons were robbed. Mr Ransome was a solicitor by profession and thought words mattered. Though ‘burgled’ was the wrong word too ...


David Craig, 6 July 1989

A Search for Scotland 
by R.F. Mackenzie.
Collins, 280 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 00 215185 5
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A Claim of Right for Scotland 
edited by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 202 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6022 4
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The Eclipse of Scottish Culture 
by Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull.
Polygon, 121 pp., £6.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6000 3
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The Bird Path: Collected Longer Poems 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 239 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 245 2
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Travels in the Drifting Dawn 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 160 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 240 1
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... move up a class was tested by their ability to swim the Avon fully clothed, write a critique of an Arthur Ransome book, climb the Tracker Tree, or spend a night alone in the woods and write about the experience. Classes were voluntary: a young radio buff who had chosen not to learn arithmetic finally begged the music master to teach him long division so ...

Darkness Audible

Nicholas Spice, 11 February 1993

Benjamin Britten 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 680 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 571 14324 5
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... he was. His diaries from that time record enthusiasms for the novels of J.M. Barrie and Arthur Ransome, for Emil and the Detectives and The Sword in the Stone. And he was much pre-occupied with writing a string quartet about his schooldays, with movements given titles like ‘P.T.’ and ‘Ragging’. His emotional life centred on his ...


Peter Campbell, 5 December 1985

... life. Others would be too good-mannered to notice things which embarrass Adrian. In the world of Arthur Ransome’s children parents hardly figure as characters. Their role is to establish the absolute security outside the plot which can make the adventures within it seem both realistic and safe. No possible turn of a ...

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