Arthur Ransome Connections

Arthur Ransome, Helene Carter and my introduction to S&A

Marilyn C. Doolan Steele

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons was introduced to me by my elementary school library, which spanned one wall of the school cafeteria. The county bookmobile introduced me to Winter Holiday, Swallowdale and others, all antidotes to the world of the atomic age in the late 1950s in the suburbs outside Washington, D.C.

As a preteen I read Arthur Ransome to experience the camaraderie and adventures of the Swallows and the Amazons as they sailed, camped and explored throughout their English summer months.

Soon I wanted to know if the stories about these adventurous children were fiction or based on real families. My mon encouraged me to write a letter to the author. The reply took ages and eventually arrived from England.

Impatient to receive a reply I had written to the illustrator in New York City and received much more than I had expected.

I have included the first letters from this correspondence.

Click on any image for a larger versiom.

First letter from Helene Carter to Marilyn Steele, dated January 21, 1956

"As I remember it, he wrote abut real children he knew."

Page 1: "But, you know, some details are bound to be different, and after all the country is a dream country though a real one, and there is nothing against it being a different country in different places as it is bound to be a different country to different people."

Page 2: "The safest address for me for the next six months will be care of the British Counsulate, Aleppo, Syria. And it saves a lot of time on the way if you remember to write 'via Istanbul' on the top of the envelope."
Letter from Arthur Ransome to Helene Carter, dated December 31, 1931

Letter from Helene Carter to Marilyn Steel, dated May 18, 1956

"I am simply delighted to have your lovely sketches for "Swallows and Amazons". You draw extremely well and I hope you will keep it up.">

Letter from Arthur Ransome to Marilyn Steele

"I cannot answer all your questions without letting secrets... But I will let out one more: Rio is Bowness-on-Windermere.

This article is ©2016 by Marilyn C. Doolan Steele and first appeared in the September, 2016 issue of Signals from TARSUS/North Pole News, the newsletter of TARS North American region. THe article is posted on All Things Ransome with permission from Marilyn Steele and SfT/NPN.

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