Finding photographs of Titty Altounyan

Titty was the name of an imaginative and ‘highly original’ little girl who Arthur Ransome first got to know in the Lake District when she was aged eight. I met her niece Barbara Altounyan recently. She was most amused that I had once played her Aunt Titty.

Sophie Neville as Titty in Swallows and Amazons

~Sophie Neville playing Titty Altounyan in the 1974 film ‘Swallows & Amazons’. Official photograph taken a Bank Ground Farm above Coniston Water copyright: StudioCanal~

I’d brought Barbara some long lost family photographs that included some of Titty’s wedding in Aleppo. They are beautiful.

Titty and Ernest - wedding in 1954

Titty on the arm of her father, Dr Ernest Altounyan in Aleppo, 1954

Titty Altounyan's wedding

Titty on her wedding day with her husband Melkon Guzelian, her sister-in-law, her father Ernest Altounyan, her mother Dora and brother Roger, far right. You can also see Roger, Ernest and Dora below, with Roger’s wife standing far right.

Titty's wedding group

There is also a more informal shot.

Titty's wedding in 1954

‘Don’t you want to know about Titty?’ Barbara asked me. ‘She was a very detailed person and quite a perfectionist.’ I knew she was a wonderful artist who had studied under Henry Moore at the Chealsea School of Art, but was unwilling to ever attempt to sell her work. I was also told she also had long legs. I only hope that I have represented her well.

Titty with Brigit and Joe,John Sanders, 1953

Titty Altounyan at her sister Brigit’s wedding to John Sanders in 1953

Titty obituary - The Guardian

You can see a couple more family photos on ‘Secret Britian – The Lakes’ currently on BBC iPlayer at about 11.50 minis in. Those in the UK can view the programme here.

(NB: Ransome did not write ‘Swallows and Amazons’ while on holiday on Coniston Water as was stated in the programme. To see a photograph of Low Ludderburn, the house above Windermere where Arthur Ransome lived and wrote ‘Swallows and Amazons’ please click here and scroll down.)

12 Comments

Filed under Acting, Arthur Ransome, Autobiography, Biography, British Film, Cinema, Cumbria, Film, Film Cast, Lake District, Memoir, Sophie Neville, Swallows & Amazons, Swallows and Amazons, titty, truelife story, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Finding photographs of Titty Altounyan

  1. Wonderful read! Thank you for sharing this, Sophie.

  2. jsp713

    Wonderful post! Thank you!

  3. Jill G

    Thank you, Sophie and Barbara! I’ve always been particularly interested in Titty, both the real and Swallows ones, and these photos are a joy.

  4. martin robinson

    A wonderful article ,Sophie . I remember meeting Brigit Sanders and family members during a TARS expedition at High Nibthwaite in October 1991. We were all made so welcome to her house , including tea and seed -cake !

  5. I’ve just finished reading Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World. Ransome wrote the introduction. I think you would enjoy it if you haven’t already read it. He was an amazing character.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know! Are you a member of The Arthur Ransome Society?

      • I have been at times but I have lapsed. Your should read the story of Slocums travels with his family in the Liberdade if you can get hold of a copy. I was so “Titty” as a child and now I am refurbishing my Grandfathers 21′ 1939 little cruiser in the Outer Hebrides. To be honest the Liberdade voyage would be an amazing film and so few know of the story. Its like a swiss family robinson afloat.

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