Swallows and Amazons

Source: Swallows and Amazons


Brantwood Brilliance


Here are photos from classic Arthur Ransome country.

These were taken in the breathtaking grounds of Brantwood, in Coniston, the beautiful former home of the legendary John Ruskin, whom Oscar Wilde admired.

A top tourist attraction accessible by boat, this museum is well worth a visit.

There is a superb film about Ruskin and his legacy and a very good cafe.

Ruskin believed in a social security system and condemned the world of the Industrial Revolution which condemned many to ill-health.

Ruskin’s new vision for Britain materialised after his death, a sign indeed of a great man.

Wilde Season

autumn treejpg


Cellar Theatre

Autumn was Oscar Wilde’s favourite season.

For us today, it’s certainly the spookiest!

In nearby Lancaster which had witch trials, events really start to happen by October!

There are cat walks and ghost walks which are ever-popular.

The Victorians loved this aspect of autumn and its literary offshoot, the ghost story.

Wilde certainly made his name in this timeless genre with The Canterville Ghost.

M R James also made his fortune from it.

Tales of departed souls also made great theatre for them because it was FUN!

You may want to check out the above link for a contemporary taste of old-style theatre.

If you’re new to my website, you may also want to check out for a previous post about Cellar’s production Tea with Oscar Wilde.



Great Scot!





Among the photos above,  the first and third are of the beautiful natural world around Edinburgh.

Some TARS (The Arthur Ransome Society) members chose to explore the area outside the great city on their free afternoon during our recent A R weekend.  The second photo is of the ancient Duddenston Kirk church and the last is a film still from the short Wilde-Douglas.

Here is the promised second film that was shown at the TARS Conference in Edinburgh at the beginning of September.   (See TARS Treats).   Just click on the link below to view.

Lord Alfred Douglas

The young Scots Lord from Dumfriesshire meets Oscar Wilde in Rouen, France and invites him to Naples.

The year is 1897.

Douglas was a good poet.  Among his works are a collection of children’s poems, of which The Cod has won praise in literary circles.  Wilde said he was best at the ballad.

The scene  was filmed at The Robert Gillow Pub in Lancaster.

Lancaster Royal Grammar Students take the roles of Douglas and Oscar Wilde.






TARS Treats!

Saturday in Edinburgh

Members of TARS at Duddingston Kirk Church

The Arthur Ransome Society Conference was from Friday 1st September to Sunday 3rd September 2017 at Edinburgh University.  Here is an update with a member photo.

After registration the President of TARS Sophie Neville welcomed everyone.

The talks were as follows:

  1. Wilde Ransomed by myself
  2. Arthur Ransome and the Dymock Poets by Jeff Cooper,  who is Lascelles Abercrombie’s grandson
  3. Nancy Blackett in Life, Literature and Life by Peter Willis
  4. Better than Gold:  Arthur Ransome and the Carnegie Medal by Dr Lucy Pearson
  5.  Call the Agent or How Children’s Books Can Save the World by agent Lindsey Fraser
  6. Faery Stories Which in the Time of Armaggedon Nobody Will Read by Mary Pritchard
  7. Arthur Ransome’s Rewriting of the Russian Folk Tale by Tatiana Bogdranova
  8. Caught in the Russian Revolution: The British Community in Petrograd 1917-1918 by Richard Davies

It was a privilege to be invited to speak and I had a most fulfilling and enjoyable weekend with interesting, friendly people of diverse interests.

On Saturday afternoon we were left to enjoy the delights of Edinburgh and along with Sophie I joined TARS member Malcolm on a walk to a nature reserve where we saw some deer and stopped off at an old church.

On Saturday night there was a splendid gala dinner with a dessert to die for!

The  TARS bookshop and library were open throughout the weekend and I bagged the most beautiful hardback book for only £7.50 about Arthur Ransome in China.

I find  the amount of places associated with this writer amazing.  They include  Chelsea, Camden, Russia, China, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Norfolk, Cumbria and Lancashire.  There is also a French connection which you can read in a previous post.

I promised you films.  Here is the first film shown at the TARS Conference.


It was made in co-operation with Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Lancaster Film Makers’ Co-op.  Both films were highly praised.

The film shows the relevance of Ransome to older school students.

TARS, however, does have a junior magazine for children – Outlaws!

For more about joining TARS go to http://www.arthur-ransome.org.uk















Edinburgh Excursion

Well, the Arthur Ransome Society Conference is in Edinburgh this year; a great literary event for his fiftieth anniversary. (For film stills and pic see below).

I am the first speaker tomorrow night!

My talk will be about how A R was the man who made Oscar Wilde in the twentieth century through his book he wrote about Wilde Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study which ended in a law suit in 1913 when Alfred Douglas sued him for libel.

The case set New Georgian England alight and had repercussions to the present day. Continue reading

#OTD in Irish History – 26 August:

I love the American connection.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1725 – Five Dublin children receive the first recorded smallpox inoculations in Ireland.

1798 – General Humbert leaves Ballina bound for Castlebar. He takes an indirect route through the mountains.

1811 – Death of Thomas Fitzsimons. He was an American merchant and statesman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Congress. Fitzsimons’ ancestry has not been proved, but one thought is that Fitzsimons was born at Ballikilty, Co Wexford in October, 1741. He was a member of a collection of Irish families with the name “Fitzsymons” and it variants. In the mid-1750s he immigrated to Philadelphia where his father soon died. However, Fitzsimons had enough education that he could begin work as a clerk in a mercantile house. He married Catherine Meade on 23 November 1761 and formed a business partnership with her brother George. Their firm specialised in the West…

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Swallows, Amazons and Music, a Useful Link

The Amber Trust

Sea Shanties were a favourite with Arthur Ransome, unsurprisingly considering his love of the sea!

What gives real flavour to Swallows and Amazons is how  all the characters come together near the end with Captain Flint for a sing-song!  Old sea favourites are among the agenda including Spanish Ladies and Blow the Man Down!

As music and songs are an important part of his classic book, readers of my website might be interested to know about a charity which supports blind children in connection with music (above).

The Amber Trust gives grants for blind children to learn music,  bringing them an invaluable experience and skill throughout their lives.

If you want to know more or wish to support this fine organisation just follow the link above.