Arthur Ransome Wiki
"They've got an awful funny smell," said Roger.
"Just foreignness," said Titty. (ML7)

Ethnicity is an aspect of classic literature that can sometimes create clashes with modern tastes, including the quest for political correctness and concerns regarding racism.

This article attempts to list instances where ethnicity is mentioned in Arthur Ransome's works so that scholars, critics and fans may then draw their own conclusions.

Note to contributors: let's give references here as much as possible


Ethnic terms used to contrast a group's satus as "out" of the "in-group":


Ethnic terms deliberately used in a negative way:

  • (hopefully there aren't any!)
  • (something about Gipsies or Jews in one of the Russian Tales books)
  • In The War of the Birds and the Beasts (and other Russian tales) published after Arthur Ransomes death in 1984, the editor Hugh Brogan eliminated a few anti-Semitic details which reflected social conditions in the old Russian Empire, but have no place in English books for children today.

Out of favour[]

Probably published in good faith, but some of these terms mightn't go down so well these days:

  • The highly offensive word known as the N-word:
    • to describe black pearls (PD35); and Bill to describe Mogandy (PD13), though further on Mogandy is a "negro" (PD30).
    • to describe figures in a photo negative (BS31 - changed to negroes in the Puffin Books edition)
  • Hottentots and white used to describe the soot-covered miners and their clean observer Peggy in Pigeon Post (PP30)
  • Blackfellows - Titty remembers that story the friendliest of all natives used to tell about the blackfellows in the Australian bush who found water by magic in the year of the great drought when the sheep were dying by thousands on the sheep stations? (PP16).
  • Piccaninny - a pun made by Roger when John calls Small black buoy almost dead ahead (SW3)

See also[]