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Swallows and Amazons

Updated Tuesday, 20th October 2015

Find out about the real children and the books behind Swallows and Amazons.

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First published in 1930 Swallows and Amazons recounts the adventures of the Walker and Blackett children and their idyllic summer holiday camping and sailing in an imaginary Lake District landscape; encountering pirates and finding buried treasure. From Bank Ground Farm on the banks of Coniston Water where the Walker children holiday with their mother, to the hamlet of Nibthwaite and Peel Island where Ransome himself holidayed as a boy, you can journey through the Lakes to places like Low Ludderburn, the remote cottage and barn near Windermere where Ransome wrote his much-loved tale.

But Arthur Ransome was not just a children’s author, he was also a globetrotting journalist.  Delving into Ransome’s own trunk at Leeds University unlocks his dark past of his time as a war correspondent during the Russian Revolution, brushing shoulders with Lenin and Trotsky, leading to accusations of him being a spy.

Swallows and Amazons is not only indelibly linked to the landscape Ransome so beautifully describes it captures the spirit of an imperial age when children were encouraged to be self-sufficient and independent.  After its success Ransome wrote a further eleven novels, a series that now stands as part of a trajectory of children’s adventure literature and whose legacy can be seen both in the milieu and in the moral and upstanding virtues it embodies.  Swallows and Amazons forever!

Video: Island adventures

Video: The real Swallows

Adventures: Make a map and sail to Wild Cat Island

The Secret Life of Books - Find out more about the other books in the series.




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