I wonder whether all fishermen, without knowing it, talk to their fish. (Rod and Line)
... a thought for today ...

Introducing Arthur Ransome…

Arthur Ransome, aged 5

“Mine has not been a life of consistent effort towards a single end. It seems to me that I have been like a shuttlecock bandied to and fro by lunatics. I seem to have lived not one life, but snatches of a dozen different lives…”
The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome

Arthur Ransome wrote Swallows and Amazons and eleven other classic novels. Together they made him the leading children’s writer of his day, and one of the foremost of the 20th century.  But there is far more to Ransome than Swallows and Amazons and its sequels alone.

In total he wrote over forty books, contributed to many more and wrote extensively for newspapers, including the Manchester Guardian. His subjects reflected his interests and his life. As a young man he was a romantic Bohemian, fascinated by the art of story-telling. Folklore took him to Russia in 1913. Once there, war and revolution turned him from romantic fiction to war reporting, political journalism and amateur diplomacy. Among many other adventures Ransome played chess with Lenin, discussed Shakespeare with Karl Radek, married Trotsky’s secretary and helped Estonia gain independence.

Perhaps it is no surprise he attracted both MI5 and MI6’s attention. Or that he once wrote I seem to have lived not one life, but snatches from a dozen different lives.

A keen fisherman and sailor, with a life-long love for the Lake District, Ransome was above all an accomplished and professional writer. In addition to children’s literature, he made significant contributions to sailing and angling writing, literary criticism and political journalism.

…and welcome to the Arthur Ransome Trust

The Arthur Ransome Trust (ART) exists to help people discover, explore and enjoy Arthur Ransome’s fascinating life and works. We’re working to create a Ransome Centre in the Lake District via exhibitions, events, educational materials and publishing.

Scroll down to see why that matters, and how you can help to create Ransome’s legacy in the 21st Century.

Swallows & Amazons Changes Lives

The Swallows and Amazons’ flags
Swallows and Amazons

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons novels have inspired generations. They ignited Dame Ellen MacArthur’s desire to sail and led David Bellamy to champion conservation. For Norman Willis they were a source of sanity whilst General Secretary of the TUC. In Maurice Rowlandson they inspired a lifetime’s service organising youth sailing cruises on the Norfolk Broads. By the turn of the century over 30,000 had taken part and the cruises continue to this day.

They are just a handful of the many thousands for whom the Swallows and Amazons have been enduring mentors and friends.

Together, Arthur Ransome’s novels changed British children’s literature, affected a whole generation’s view of holidays, helped to create the national image of the English Lake District, and added Arthur Ransome’s name to the select list of classic British children’s authors,” (Professor Peter Hunt, Approaching Arthur Ransome, 1992).

A Legacy for the 21st Century…

Captain Nancy gives instructions
Winter Holiday

Arthur Ransome was born in the 19th Century. His Swallows & Amazons novels are set in the 20th – a world without air travel, the internet, or mobile phones.

Yet they remain as relevant today as they were when first written. His insights into childhood imagination and play are timeless. So are his attitudes to adventure, which provide a refreshing challenge to excessive risk-aversion. His characters’ emotions, aspirations and failings remain real. They remind us all of the value of common sense, co-operation, hard work, the acquisition of skills and mutual respect as they combat adversity and fulfil their goals. Their attitudes are surprisingly modern, democratic and meritocratic.

As Peter Hunt observed: Ransome presents not so much an ideal world in which children can play, but a world of ideals to which his readers can aspire: a world of equality and respect.

…a Home to Create…

The Arthur Ransome Trust is a small charity with a big vision: to help people discover both the fiction and reality of Arthur Ransome’s fascinating life.

“No matter where I was, wandering about the world, I used at night to look for the North Star and, in my mind’s eye, could see the beloved skyline of great hills beneath it.”
Author’s note for Swallows and Amazons, 1958

Our major goal is to create a dedicated Arthur Ransome Centre in the Lake District, Ransome’s spiritual home. His novels touched many subjects – not only sailing, camping and fishing, but also geology, astronomy, conservation, exploration, social history, folklore, farming, bird protection and much more. They have already been shaping lives and careers for over 80 years, and we believe that a dedicated centre will help them continue to inspire generations to come.

…and Ransome’s Future Today

ART’s potential will only be fully realised through a vibrant Ransome centre. But this shouldn’t discourage us from beginning to fulfil it today. There is much we can do now, in anticipation of doing it better in a permanent future home.

‘All four of them had been filled at once with the same idea. It was not just an island. It was the island, waiting for them. It was their island. With an island like that within sight, who could be content to live on the mainland and sleep in a bed at night?’
Swallows and Amazons

That is why we have a range of active projects, including:

  • Republishing out-of-print Ransome works;
  • Ransome-related exhibitions, displays and events; and
  • Developing new ways of making his life and works more accessible to all.

We believe each project is valuable in itself. They offer benefits both now and in the immediate future. But they also offer stepping stones on our main “expedition” towards a Ransome home.

Adventure Ahead…

“The prospect before them was too vast for chatter” (Swallows and Amazons).

They lay there, making plans as if they were going to be on the island all their lives.
“Properly,” said Captain John, “we ought to shoot wild goats for our food.”
“Only there aren’t any,” said Susan.
“And we haven’t got a gun,” said Roger.
“Of course,” said John, “it’s quite all right to have provisions, pemmican, and all that, especially biscuits. All explorers do that.”
Swallows and Amazons

Every worthwhile expedition can feel that way. Just as all truly worthwhile projects need proper planning and preparation.

Yet success depends on provisions as well as plans. Two types in particular are vital for ART to fulfil its potential.

They are people and funds.

Only people can provide imagination, energy, enthusiasm, determination and encouragement.  ART needs these to thrive. As a small charity we do not have paid employees, relying instead entirely on volunteers. People who believe that offering Ransome’s legacy in the 21st Century is a worthwhile goal.

People make a difference. Will you?

…Be a PART of ART…

Spectate or create?

Sometimes watching expeditions or games is the right thing to do. It can be fascinating. It could be informative. Or it may just be fun.

But watching a game is rarely as satisfying as taking part.

Get involved – and make a difference

“No, no, no,” said her mother. “You can’t do that. Send out your pioneers and find the right place.”
Pigeon Post

In Arthur Ransome’s Carnegie Medal-winning novel, Pigeon Post, the Swallows, the Amazons and their friends Dick and Dorothea are determined to become gold prospectors on the Lakeland Fells. The Amazons’ mother, Mrs Blackett, thinks they’re playing a game. They know they’re not. But how can they start in a drought, when water is scarce and everyone is petrified of fire? It is here that Mrs Blackett recognises the need for pioneers. For people prepared to go first. People whose efforts will enable all their future plans.

PART – Pioneers of ART – is for anyone who supports ART’s aims and wants to see them fulfilled. Do you want to:

  • Show your support…
    by “nailing your colours” to ART’s masts? It helps to show that real people believe Ransome’s legacy matters;
  • Help financially…
    through an annual, monthly or lifetime subscription? It takes a shove to begin turning a capstan, and sustained effort to keep it going;
  • Offer advice and encouragement?
    We know we need both to keep ART on course!
  • Be a practical pioneer?
    We don’t have a physical capstan, at least not yet. But we do have plenty of “anchors” and “sails” to raise. Why not get involved and help make a difference?


…Every Heave Helps

With provisions, pemmican and biscuits

Two crabs sharing a ship’s biscuit
Peter Duck

Yet people alone are not quite enough. As John observed:

‘…all expeditions need provisions, pemmican and especially biscuits.’ (Swallows and Amazons)

Volunteers’ goodwill greatly reduces our costs. But it can’t remove them completely. Even biscuits cost money.

ART’s “biscuits” include items like educational leaflets, exhibition displays and transport to get those displays to events. All our projects need food. None can prosper for long without regular, ongoing support.

Make a difference to Ransome’s legacy today


can print over 50 educational leaflets


can help us produce display panels for exhibitions


can help us transport an exhibition or display

Every heave helps, however long your arms.

“Now,” said Captain Flint. “Mr Duck and I can hoist that mainsail between us. But we have to take one halyard at a time, and belay the peak while we’re hauling on the throat.
Let’s see what we can do with the lot of you tallying on.”
Peter Duck

Grab a Chance

“Grab a chance and you won’t be sorry for a might-have-been” (We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea)

Why not grab this chance to stock – or restock – your Ransome bookshelf with:

  • Our Buried Treasure publications;
  • The twelve Swallows and Amazons novels; and
  • A range of other books by and about Arthur Ransome.

‘They walked, as millionaires, into Roy’s shop.’
The Big Six

Ransome Today

"Of course I can," said Roger. "But chocolate's jolly important. All explorers have it." (Secret Water)
... please keep exploring! ...