The publication of ‘The Making of SWALLOW & AMAZONS’


The paperback

Sophie Neville at home with the S&A flags

by Sophie Neville who played Titty Walker

‘Forty years after she enchanted film-goers as Titty in Swallows and Amazons, Sophie Neville has found a new audience… telling the behind-the-scenes secrets of the film of Arthur Ransome’s classic novel.’ The Daily Mail  The Making of  Swallows & Amazons ‘…is based on diaries, letters and old photographs which Sophie has turned into a heart-warming account of making the movie, which starred Virginia McKenna and Ronald Fraser.’

Swallows & Amazons flags for book

The Telegraph ~ Culture:  ‘Set in the Lake District in 1929, the film follows four young adventurers who sail a dinghy around Lake Coniston, cook for themselves over campfires and sleep in makeshift campsites.’

‘…The occasional chaos and terrible weather during filming contributed to the eventual popularity of the extraordinary and very much loved film.’ The Times

‘The film Swallows & Amazons is 40 years old, but thanks to its careful period evocation, its respect for Arthur Ransome’s original book and the performances of its child actors, it’s become a timeless classic. One of those children was Sophie Neville, who played Titty, and who kept a diary during the filming. That diary, with her adult recollections, is this book. It’s a fascinating insight into filming on location in the Lake District…’ Classic Boat

Sophie Suzanna and Sten

‘… The result is compulsive reading as she recalls that cold wet summer, while the camera crew wrapped up warm and she shivered in her skimpy dress as Able Seaman Titty Walker. Sophie brings to life all the many memorable characters who worked on the film and in particular the other children, the Director Claude Whatham who developed a great relationship with his young cast and the stars Virginia McKenna and Ronald Fraser. Nor are the other young actors forgotten for there are diary contributions from Suzanna Hamilton who played Susan, Stephen Grendon who played the Boy Roger and Kit Seymour who played Nancy Blackett. The text is supported by numerous illustrations showing life on and off the set.’ Roger Wardale, author of Arthur Ransome: Master Storyteller and other books

‘You don’t need to be a Swallows & Amazons fan to enjoy this book – it’s universal!’ Winifred Wilson, Librarian of The Arthur Ransome Society

‘This was a most unusual and interesting book. I picked it up expecting to browse through it, and found myself so drawn in to Sophie Neville’s detailed, amusing and insightful description of film making in the 1970’s that I was unable to put her book down. As Arthur Ransome fans, my family and I have always loved the film, and felt that Sophie Neville was ‘just right’ as Titty. What fun it has been to be introduced to the young twelve year old Sophie with her intelligent awareness of the challenges facing the production crew while she shivered in her cotton dresses. The many photographs and illustrations contribute richly to bringing the 1970s setting to life. Sophie recorded her experiences beautifully, and in so doing, added one more valuable book to the cultural heritage of all Arthur Ransome fans.’ Juliet Calcott, English teacher, South Africa

Lots of photos throughout the book bring the scenes to life – a delightful read.’ Celia Lewis author of An Illustrated Country Year

Mark Forrest Evening Show

Sophie Neville has been chatting to Mark Forrest on The Evening Show.

Screenshot of The Making of Swallows and Amazons book cover on Instagram

The second edition of this paperback is published by The Lutterworth Press, available online here


Author: Sophie Neville

Writer and charity fundraiser

20 thoughts on “The publication of ‘The Making of SWALLOW & AMAZONS’”

    1. Thank you! The choice of photographs was unexpectedly limited. What do you think of the title? Do you prefer it to ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows & Amazons?’

        1. My original title was meant to reflect ‘What dark secrets shall be revealed?’ – ‘Secret Water’. However, while children are intrigued by secrets, the press see the word as salacious so it had to go, but I regret not inducing the word filming or film.

          ‘Making the film Swallows & Amazons’ ?

          This title was both the publisher’s idea and choice. It separates the eBook from the paperback version, which has been re-edited to flow better, has a few more stories, a hugely improved ending and lots of stills from the feature film. I swapped them for the use of Dad’s behind-the-scenes footage now used on the new DVD extras.

            1. The book title is actually in brown. We tried the text in white but it didn’t have the impact. I requested gold, as nautical and all the rage, but it was too expensive!

              1. I think the brown lettering is fine. it picks up the darker shade, and is in keeping with the general feel of the picture. Subtle!

  1. I liked the ‘Secrets’ title, but now I’ve seen the cover, it looks fine, and it’s quite clear that it’s about the film. Can’t wait to see my copy!

    1. It is quite a big paperback – 6″ x 9″ with 16 colour plates, so good value for money.
      I think the photo we were able to use on the cover is the best still from the film.

      Do let me know what you think when it arrives. We hugely value your opinion.

  2. It took a little while to figure out Paypal but my pre-order for the book has finally been sent. Many thanks for this Sophie! I’m looking forward to August and the arrival of my copy!

  3. Ordered the signed book as soon as I could . I read the kindle version while we were on holiday in Portugal last month. It was great to read an account of how filming is not as simple as people imagine ! Enjoyed it very much .
    Cheers , Martin

    1. Thank you for posting a comment! It is always great to receive feedback and much appreciated. You will have to review the new book for me – it would be very interesting to know if you prefer the paperback to the Kindle version. I think people will as the publishers improved the flow and pressed me for a better ending.

      1. I remember you did that with a hardback copy of ‘The Secrets…’ last year, and achieved a very good result. I hope the same happens this year; I shall keep a close eye on it.

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