Favourite Ransome Quotations

This is a list of favourite quotations from Arthur Ransome, mostly from the Swallows and Amazons series. These quotations have been posted as favourites by participants on TarBoard, the Arthur Ransome Discussion Forum, at one time or another. If you have a particular favourite which isn't listed, please let us know at contact ATR.

The quotations are presented as they are in the books. Material not in quotation marks is Ransome writing directly to the reader, e.g. Softly, at first, as if it hardly meant it, the snow began to fall. Material is presented in quotes when Ransome puts it in quotes, generally because a character is speaking or quoted e.g. "A pigeon a day keeps the natives away."

The quotations are organized by book and chapter; however, here is the overall favourite:

Softly, at first, as if it hardly meant it, the snow began to fall. WH, Ch.5

Swallows and Amazons

The island had come to seem one of those places seen from the train that belong to a life in which we shall never take part. Ch.1

Peter Duck

"Rot screw steamers," he burst out fiercely, "driving vessels like her off the seas where they belong!" Ch.17


They found, like many explorers before them, that somehow, in their absence, they had got into trouble at home. Ch.5
As Nancy Blackett always said, one of the best things about her Uncle Jim was that he never asked you why you tumbled down. Ch.7
"When a thing's done, it's done, and if it's not done right, do it differently next time. Worrying never made a sailor." Ch.8
"We're all duffers sometimes, but it's only now and then we get found out." Ch.8
"Pouf!" said Susan, raking the sticks together in the fireplace. "Isn't it a blessing to get home?" Ch. 36

Winter Holiday

"What? What? Oh, it's you, Dot. You did give me a jump." "Well, you ought to hang out a notice when you're not there." Ch.2
"Dark at tea-time and sleeping indoors: nothing ever happens in the winter holidays." Ch.3
Softly, at first, as if it hardly meant it, the snow began to fall. Ch.5
He was not angry. Nobody ever was angry with Dorothea. Ch.21
And the little sledge, roaring as it rushed over the ice, flew northwards in the storm. Ch 24

Coot Club

The klop, klop of water under the bows of a small boat will cure most troubles in this world. Ch.11

Pigeon Post

""It's Nancy...She's beginning something already." Ch.1
"A pigeon a day keeps the natives away." Ch.4

We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea

...this happy place where almost everybody wore sea-boots, and land, in comparison with water, seemed hardly to matter at all. Ch.1
"Grab a chance and you won't be sorry for a might-have-been." Ch.2

Secret Water

The explorers, crowded aboard her, looked astern and saw the islands of the Secret Archipelago merge once more into a long unbroken line on the horizon. Ch.31

The Big Six

They all went out together into sunshine that seemed extraordinarily friendly. A light breeze was stirring the river and they could see the water sparkling through the trees. "Come on," said Tom. "Let's all go sailing." Ch.32
"Poor lads," said the old man. "Poor lads....So young and with nothing left to live for." Postscript

Missee Lee

"She's got a rum job, but she knows how to do it, and to have a job and know how to do it is one of the best things in this life." Ch.26

The Picts And The Martyrs

A smell of new-mown hay drifted from the meadows on the further side of the river. "There isn't a lovelier place in all the world," thought Dorothea. London last night, and now Beckfoot. The summer holidays had begun. Ch.2
He wanted to be safe from help of any kind. Ch.16
"Tommy Jolys," the Great Aunt interrupted him, "am I right in supposing that you are the leading spirit in this foolery?" Ch.29

Great Northern?

"What's hit's history: what's missed's mystery." Ch.9

Coots In The North

The Death and Glory was very much as she had been the year before. The money her owners had earned by the catch of the enormous pike had somehow gone, as money does go, before they had done any of the things that in their first moment of wealth they had planned. Ch.1

Bohemia In London

Of all kinds of bondage, vagabondage is the most cruel, and the hardest from which to escape. Introductory Chapter

Racundra's First Cruise

Houses, are but badly built boats so firmly aground that you cannot think of moving them. Ch.1

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