Hostel date for Swallows and Amazons actress

Typical Lake District surroundings!

NorthWest News and Features

The actress who starred in the children’s classic film Swallows and Amazons (1974) is to return to one of her favourite locations in the Lake District.

Sophie Neville, who played the imaginative Titty Walker, able-seaman of the Swallow, will stay at Elterwater Hostel as a guest of the staff. She’s returning to the Lakes to take part in a marathon day-long reading of the Arthur Ransome story on the shore of Coniston next month. When she mentioned on social media that Elterwater was the scene of her favourite day’s filming in the Lake District, the staff at the hostel sent her an invitation.

“Of all the days we spent filming Swallows and Amazons, the fishing scene, shot in a reedy bay on Elterwater, was the one I enjoyed the most,” Sophie recalls. The youngest character, Roger, caught a giant pike which he thought was a shark. A local fisherman…

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A Review of The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) by Anne Gaelan


Photos are used with the kind consent of the author.

The Arthur Ransome Society

This uplifting memoir by Sophie Neville tells us how a schoolgirl’s life was transformed by unexpectedly starring in a major film adaptation of the world famous classic tale by Arthur Ransome.

A minor role as author Laurie Lee’s childhood sweetheart led to her winning the role of Ransome’s much-loved tomboy Titty Walker.

Interspersed with the narrative are charming diary entries twelve-year-old Sophie made of her day-to-day experiences.

The book captures the demanding work required of child actors and the additional pressures they faced of discomfort and school work.

The narrative also opens a window onto the detailed process of film making and the many  skills involved.  Photographs include examples of call sheets.

However, the book’s greatest asset is how it communicates a sense of camaraderie between players and crew.

In a profession notorious for back-stabbing it is refreshing to read how such a community worked with mutual respect for each other on a highly commercial enterprise.  Claude Whatham, the director particularly comes across as a kindly and empathetic influence.

This production you feel had heart and its success was deserved.

This work is a treat with an afterward not to be missed!










A Wilde Winner

If Arthur Ransome made Wilde in the twentieth century by his brilliant, bold and distinguished bestseller Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study, Mr Gyles Brandreth has made Wilde in the twenty-first century with his superb Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries.

Anne Gaelan with Gyles Brandreth

Location: Chester Cathedral June 2017 Mr Brandreth very kindly autographed the Reading Gaol and Candlelight Murders in his series. Recommended!

Arthur Ransome Exhibition at Coniston

Hello again!  Welcome back to the site.  Regular posts will now resume!

Saturday, 3rd June 2017 was the fiftieth anniversary of Arthur Ransome’s death in 1967.   On that day I made a trip to the superb Arthur Ransome exhibition at Coniston museum in Cumbria which commemorates and celebrates his superb legacy in this significant year.

Setting off at 8 am from Morecambe, the journey was long and charming, involving a trip in the car across a stretch of water by ferry!

Once there I met other members of The Arthur Ransome Society (TARS) who had specially arranged this trip which offered an opportunity for everyone from the north west branch to meet each other there on that day.  My Dad, a dedicated history enthusiast also joined us and was not disappointed.

Mr Geraint Lewis, the Literary Executor kindly allowed me to take a photo of him along with other members (below)  and a long shot of the room housing the exhibition.

In addition to expected items relating to his famous books, there were also some superb photos of Russian citizens  and bearded soldiers  whom Ransome befriended in his capacity as a newspaper correspondent.  The photos of people in threadbare clothes on rackety looking trains or on horseback gave an indication of why there was a revolution!

I particularly liked the displayed hard-backed book of Arthur Ransome’s translation of popular Russian fairy stories titled  Old Peter’s Russian Tales.  It had the most exquisite illustrations in.

There were also books of photographs detailing the various stages of Ransome’s life and highlighting the brilliant work done by members of the Society who do so much to keep his memory alive.

It was a joy to see his fishing tackle and the shoes he wore when he went fishing.

Also interesting was the antiquated printing equipment the author used.

This exhibition is recommended.

Members say also recommended is the Brantwood cafe at the nearby John Ruskin museum for after the museum visit.

It was a lovely day with lively and intelligent conversation.


The French Connection

Now we have a brave new voice in the world with the new French President,  it is time to add a new post.

Did you know that both Oscar Wilde and Arthur Ransome had connections with France?

Wilde had sympathies with the Revolutionaries who had a vision of a better, more egalitarian society and he expressed Republican sympathies in his poetry.

Fluent in French, having spent a long time in France as a youth, he was widely read in French literature.

When Arthur Ransome undertook his commission to write Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study he travelled to France to meet the French poet Paul Fort, an important voice in the Symboliste movement, among others.

Ransome supported the Russian Revolutionaries and like Wilde, had sympathy with their aims of a better, fairer society.   Wilde’s poetry must surely have struck a chord with him along with the much-envied French society of the early nineteenth century.

Let us hope M. Macron succeeds to uphold the principles of the Revolution in this increasingly divisive and divided world.

Vive la France!