Arthur Ransome Trust

Putting Ransome on the Map

Winter Holiday

Background to Winter Holiday

One of Ransome’s most treasured childhood memories was the Great Frost of 1895, when Windermere froze from end to end. The lake froze again in 1929, and once more crowds flocked to skate and party on the ice. Ransome had also met, and been hugely impressed by, the Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansen, whilst living in Stockholm in 1918. Together these experiences inspired Winter Holiday, his fourth Swallows and Amazons novel.

Ransome took something of a risk with this novel, introducing two new characters to the Swallows and Amazons’ world. They proved to be a master stroke. Brother and sister, Dick and Dorothea Callum (soon known as the “D’s”) are two expressions of Ransome’s own character: Dick, a bespectacled and inquisitive scientist, Dorothea a budding romantic novelist. They are a contrast to the more practical Swallows and Amazons and, as town children, characters whom many of Ransome’s readers could relate to.


Viewed primarily from the D’s perspective, Winter Holiday takes place six months after Swallowdale. The Swallows and Amazons are planning a tame expedition to the North Pole when illness extends their holiday in the coldest winter for thirty years.

First publication

Published by Jonathan Cape November, 1933.


  • In Print
  • Jonathan Cape (hb) ISBN 978-0224606349
  • Vintage (pb) ISBN 978-0099573654
  • Red Fox (pb) ISBN 978-0099427179
  • E-book: Random House Digital Editions
  • Audiobook:
  • Abridged Audiobook: Gabriel Woolf

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