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!











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!