The Books

Click on the book cover to read a synopsis.

Old Peter’s Russian Tales, Rod and Line, Racundra’s First Cruise, Bohemia in London are some of the other titles by Arthur Ransome which the Society promotes and studies.

Swallows and Amazons

The Walker family take their summer holiday at a farmhouse on the shores of a lake where they borrow a dinghy called Swallow in order to camp on an island. There they are ambushed by the crew of the Amazon and battle for supremacy. Meanwhile the Amazon’s Uncle Jim, aka Captain Flint, has his houseboat burgled. The Swallows win the battle and find Captain Flint’s stolen treasure which funds some future adventures. (You can visit most of the places described in this book and the other Lakeland books)

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The following year the Swallows and Amazons return to the lake but John holes Swallow on a rock so the Swallows have to camp on the mainland. The Amazon’s Great Aunt is staying and so they are restricted by her demands for the Amazons to be on time for meals in ladylike clothes. Nevertheless the Amazons escape to join in adventures with the Swallows, climbing Kanchenjunga as she leaves for Harrogate.

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Peter Duck

The Swallows and Amazons spend the winter holiday on a wherry in East Anglia writing a story where they sail the Atlantic to a Caribbean island looking for treasure.  The evil pirates aboard The Viper chase them and attack Able Seaman Peter Duck and Boy Jim aboard Uncle Jim’s ship whilst Uncle Jim rescues the crew on the island after a terrible storm and earthquake which has toppled a mountain on the island.  They escape, with the treasure, but are chased by the Viper.

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Winter Holiday

The Swallows and Amazons are joined on the lake by Dorothea and Dick Callum from London.  The townies are found to be useful, as they can skate properly.  This year the lake freezes over increasing the scope of exploration and adventures and setting them training for an expedition by skate and sledge to the North Pole.  As they are staying a distance apart in 3 houses they use three types of signalling to communicate, but one goes wrong, and the Ds set off too early and get blown up the lake in a blizzard and 3 rescue parties set off in the dark after the storm.

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Coot Club

We are transported to the Norfolk Broads following the Ds on their Easter holiday, staying with a friend of their mother on a yacht.  After their sail up the lake on the sledge they are keen to learn to sail but Mrs Barrable dashes their hopes until she meets an outlaw who is good in boats and with his twin friends is invited to teach the Ds to sail and skipper them all down into the south of the area.  Thrills and spills ensue with the twins and outlaw thinking that Admiral Barrable is rather rash.  They are found by the Hullabaloos, rowdy tourists in a motorboat, who are seeking the outlaw, but driving without due care as usual, the Hullabaloos wreck their boat and an exciting life or death rescue ensues with more of the outlaw’s friends the heroes of the day. (All the places in the East Anglian books are real.)

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Pigeon Post

The summer holidays finds the S, A and Ds back at the lake, but restricted to camping in Amazon’s garden by the lack of parents to take responsibility.  Captain Nancy can’t be confined at the start of the long holiday and organises a secret pioneering expedition to the goldfields to find a suitable campsite so they can prospect for gold for Captain Flint to try to keep him at home.  The pigeons will bring the Amazon’s mother a daily message.  They have a hated rival, who is staying in a farmhouse in the goldfield, so the race is on.

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We Didn’t Mean to Go To Sea

Whilst the Ds and Amazons are at the lake, the Swallows are staying at Pin Mill where their father is to take up a new naval post.  They befriend Jim who owns The Goblin a small yacht.  He has just left school but is a good sailor and so the Swallows’ mother allows them to go on a short trip with Jim before Father is due at the weekend.  Jim breaks one of the cardinal rules and leaves The Goblin in search of petrol and is knocked down by a bus, leaving the Swallows to mind the boat.  They don’t have enough experience of tidal water and let the anchor drag as the tide rises and end up crossing the North Sea in a violent storm.  Daddy comes to the rescue in a pier head jump in Flushing.  Mother is not pleased!

(The Goblin is still alive and well and sailing as Nancy Blackett, based on The River Orwell.)

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Secret Water

The Swallows are expecting to have a holiday with their parents on the islands in Hamford Water, mapping the multitude of tidal islands.  The First Sea Lord has other ideas and summons Daddy to London.  Daddy decides that the Swallows can go and secretly invites the Amazons too.  The Swallows meet a savage they call The Mastodon because of the hoofprints from his mud shoes.  He is part of the tribe of the Eels who tell him to drive out the imposter Swallows.  Adventure, abduction and terror ensue.

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The Big Six

The Ds are back in the Broads at the end of the holidays, but staying with Mrs Barrable on land.  The bird protectors, The Coots, get a reputation for casting off boats and are on the run in their boat which has been refurbished by the grateful owners of the Hullabaloos’ salvaged boat.  Dot turns detective sending the Coots off to collect evidence to prove that the 3 young Coots could not have been guilty.  The nasty, egg selling, George Owden keeps finding evidence that they are guilty.  The 3 young Coots are befriended by a serious fisherman who gets Pete to catch bait for him, and he lends them his boat to use as a lure for the real villains to cast off.  Dick uses his photographic skills to catch them doing it, and the case is solved.

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Missee Lee

Captain Flint takes the Swallows, the Amazons, Gibber the monkey and Polly the parrot on a round the world cruise in his schooner Wild Cat.  We join them in their hundredth port, setting out on an eastern course across the south China coast.  “Plenty of fireworks there” said the harbourmaster.  They set off and become becalmed, Gibber setting the ship on fire whilst everyone is distracted and she explodes and sinks.  Our intrepid sailors take to Swallow and Amazon, and become separated overnight.  We follow the adventures of the two crews as they try to locate each other, whilst getting tangled up with real pirates, three taicoons, a dragon dance, and plenty of fireworks.

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The Picts and The Martyrs

The next summer The Ds are off to the Lakes again to stay with the Amazons as they are alone whilst Captain Flint takes his sister to recuperate. The dreaded Great Aunt finds out and invites herself to look after the Amazons. The Ds are ejected and make a home in the woods and learn to live off the land in secret hence Dot referring to them as Picts. Their new boat Scarab is due for delivery and they have to collect it and berth her secretly in the Lagoon. They learn to sail her and go to the houseboat to assist Captain Flint’s mining partner in assaying the samples from the mine they found in Pigeon Post. A burglary is necessary to remove essential equipment from Captain Flint’s study and the Police are called by the Great Aunt. The story ends with the GA getting lost and the Ds rescuing her in time for her to leave on time with 6 weeks of the holiday still to go.

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Great Northern

The Swallows, Amazons and Ds are away with Captain Flint on a borrowed boat touring the Hebrides.  They get mixed up with an egg collector after Dick discovers Great Northern Divers nesting on a loch island which has never been recorded in Britain before.  To save the birds and their eggs from the egg collector the S, A and Ds lead the egg collector and his crew a merry dance through deer herds to the fury of the owners who set their dogs on the explorers and egg collector alike.  They get imprisoned and Roger comes to their aid after hiding in his Pict House on the cliff. With help from the owners the egg collector is frustrated and the birds and their eggs are saved.