Arthur Ransome Trust

Putting Ransome on the Map

Secret Water

Background to Secret Water

Ransome followed We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea with Secret Water, a second East Coast novel. Once again his yacht Nancy Blackett played a significant inspirational role. Ransome had come to know two local children, George and Josephine Russell, who were keen to learn to sail. He lent them his dinghy, Coch-y-bonddhu, and took them out in Nancy Blackett. On several occasions Ransome, Evgenia and the Russells cruised to Hamford Water, an area of tidal creeks and mudflats south of Harwich Harbour.

There they met the Busk family: Colonel and Mrs Busk and their children Jill, Michael and John, who owned the yacht Lapwing and a dinghy, Wizard. Together they explored the creeks and islands and it was from these experiences that Secret Water was born.


John, Susan, Titty, Roger and Bridget Walker have a new challenge: to survey a desolate world of islands and mudflats before their parents return to rescue them. But as they begin to explore, they soon discover that the tidal creeks are not as deserted as they originally thought.

First publication

Published by Jonathan Cape in November, 1939.


  • In Print
  • Jonathan Cape (hb) ISBN 978-0224606387
  • Vintage (pb) ISBN 978-0099589365
  • Red Fox (pb) ISBN 978-0099427230
  • E-book: Random House Digital Editions
  • Audiobook:
  • Abridged Audiobook: Gabriel Woolf

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