A marathon reading of ‘We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea’ by Arthur Ransome

On Saturday 21st October I will be joining Griff Rhys Jones, Libby Purves and author Christina Hardyment at Pin Mill Sailing Club on the River Orwell, near Ipswich in Suffolk, to take part in a marathon reading of Arthur Ransome’s iconic book ‘We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea’. The all-day event, beginning at 9.00am and ending at about 4.30pm, is being held to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its publication in 1937.

~Pin Mill on the Owell ~ photo: Anthony Cullen(c)~

The story begins at Pin Mill where the Swallows – John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker, along with their mother and Bridget-the-ship’s-baby, are waiting for their father to take up a Naval posting nearby at Shotley. The four children didn’t mean to go to sea at all but somehow ended up sailing to the Netherlands in a terrific storm. I have been asked to read the last chapter.

Come if you can! You will find more details of the event in the magazine Classic Boat and on the BBC News website. It is being organised by Peter Willis of The Nancy Blackett Trust who has been speaking about the event with Lesley Dolphin on BBC Radio Suffolk.

~ Sophie Neville aboard Arthur Ransome’s ‘best little ship’ the Nancy Blackett ~

You can read about our adventures sailing Nancy Blackett through the Netherlands this summer in Country Life magazine, here on the Nancy Blackett Trust website, with more here.

Sophie Neville profiled in Country Life magazine 12 July 2017

Members of The Arthur Ransome Society alerted me to this BBC Children’s Television programme made in 1997, which shows Griff Rhys Jones at Pin Mill with Nancy Blackett, the 28 foot Hillyard cutter that Ransome bought with ‘Spanish Gold’ – his royalties from publishing ‘Swallows and Amazons’. It shows his biographer, Hugh Brogan, and Taqui Altounyan who was a great inspiration to Ransome as a girl. The Swallows were originally based on her own family who stayed at Bank Ground Farm (Holly Howe) above Coniston Water in the Lake District 1928, when two clinker-built dinghies called Swallow and Mavis were purchased so they could learn to sail. I recently discovered the secret that Taqui, who became a keen sailor, was also the model for Captain Nancy in Ransome’s well-loved books. It also contains clips from the 1963 television adapation of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, with Susan George playing ‘Kitty’. Forgive the opening titles – it is worth viewing:


Filed under Arthur Ransome, boating, Entertainment news, family Entertainment, News, Sophie Neville, Swallows & Amazons, Swallows and Amazons, Titty in Swallows and Amazons, Uncategorized

7 responses to “A marathon reading of ‘We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea’ by Arthur Ransome

  1. Peter Latham

    Hi Sophie,

    Just found this on YouTube and thought you might enjoy it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMm88Rilbgc


  2. Martin Robinson

    Next Saturday`s marathon reading will be a wonderful event – sadly, too far from M43 for it to be a practical trip . I wish you all a great day and I shall be with you in my thoughts on this 80th. anniversary .
    TARS for ever , Martin Robinson

  3. Valerie

    I hope you can arrange to have “pea soup and omelette” there on the day 🙂 Best wishes from NZ.

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