Monday, 26 April 2010

"Arthur Ransome and Capt. Flint's Trunk" by Christina Hardyment

Christina Hardyment starts her quest for the real people and places used by Ransome as the inspiration for his books at Leeds University Library, where his papers are kept, many of them in an old cabin trunk which clearly served as the model for Captain Flint's. She then embarks on an odyssey of exploration in the Lake District, just as the Swallows and Amazons do on so many occasions, later visting also the Norfolk Broads and Hamford Water (Secret Water).

She also tracks Ransome through his life, tracing the variuos families with whom he was friendly and speaking to the real life adults who, as children, were the models (or part models in some cases, since he seesm to have taken various qualities from different people and put them together) for the various characters. She also performs some valuable analysis of the plots and participants of the various books which, although they took Ransome nearly twenty years to write, all take place within four years of what she calls "Ransome time", a Golden Age of childhood innocence in the 1930s.

Any Ransome fan will love this book, which will add greatly to their enjoyment and understanding of the series. There are also some interesting perspectives on Ransome's own life, though as Hardyment herself concedes, Hugh Brogan's biography of Ransome is the place to go for this.

It is heartening to be able to report that, though first published in 1984, a good book is, for once, still in print, and in paperback too. Do buy it.

No comments: