Arthur Ransome Trust

Putting Ransome on the Map

The ABC of Physical Culture

Background to The ABC of Physical Culture

In October, 1903, Ransome answered an advertisement in the Daily News, seeking an “experienced journalist with a thorough knowledge of athletics“. Ransome was neither, but the advert offered a salary of 20s per week to ghost write books for well-known sportsmen.

Ransome went enthusiastically to work, writing between two and six thousand words a day. In Bohemia in London, he records writing six books for his agent in two months. Unfortunately no records exist to say which books these were, or who published them. Neither is it clear whether The ABC of Physical Culture is one of these six books, or a separate but related work. Either way, it is the first book that Ransome had published under his own name.


The ABC of Physical Culture is a book of “practical instruction”, written by someone with no particular expertise in his subject. It contains an introduction and seven chapters on general health, muscles, breathing, smoking, food, drinking and sleep.

First publication

Published by Henry J Drane in August 1904.


  • Out of Print

Ransome's drawing of an armadillo, our world about him logo, used for The ABC of Physical Culture

“Twenty and thirty years later I have been amused to see on bookstalls, still bought by would-be athletes, some of the books of practical instruction… masquerading under once-famous names, that I produced during my six weeks of ghostly and breathless activity”


Also in The World About Him

Continue exploring Ransome’s bibliography:

Ransome's drawing of two children discovering a cave, our discover ransome logoRansome's drawing of a wooden hut in snow, our bibliography logoRansome's drawing of a dog on weighing scales, our books by ransome logoRansome's drawing of two flags, our swallows and amazons series logoRansome's drawing of a parrot, our story telling logoRansome's drawing of a hand holding a candle, our literary criticism logoRansome's drawing of two children in a boat, our sailing literature logoRansome's drawing of a cormorant eating a fish, our fishing literature logoRansome's drawing of a crucible held in iron bars, our political literature logoRansome's drawing of a pestle and mortar, our essay collections logoRansome's drawing of an armadillo, our world about him logoRansome's drawing of three pigeons, our autobiography logo