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. When I met her niece Barbara Altounyan, she was most amused to hear that I had once played her Auntie Titty.
~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 on the arm of her father, Dr Ernest Altounyan in Aleppo, 1954
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.
There is also a more informal shot.
‘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. Although she produced a lot of colourful art, she 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 Altounyan at her sister Brigit’s wedding to John Sanders in 1953
You can see a couple more family photos on ‘Secret Britain – The Lakes’ has been 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.)
You can read about what it was like to play the part of Able Seaman Titty in the original film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ in this illustrated paperback, available online or to order from libraries worldwide: