The fatherless state of many child characters is a widespread feature of the Swallows and Amazons series. This may be Ransome reflecting the aftermath of the very great death toll during the First World War and subsequent flu epidemic. Also Ransome himself, had left his only child Tabitha effectively fatherless when he went to Russia.
The absence of parents (fathers and mothers) also provides the context for child characters' independent adventure.
Characters with no fathers
(during childhood that is, if adults)
- The Amazons (Nancy and Peggy)
- Molly Blackett and Jim Turner
- Red-haired Bill
- possibly fatherless (not documented):
- Mr Duck (his folk are all dead when he returns to Lowestoft after some years at sea)
- Jim Brading (the only close relatives mentioned are his Uncle Bob and Medicinal Aunt)
- George Owdon (appears to live with his uncle, although this is during school holidays so might not be a permanent arrangement)
- Robin Tyson, grown-up son of Mrs Tyson; no Mr Tyson is mentioned (PP).
Characters with mostly absent fathers
- The Swallows (Ted Walker is almost always at sea with the Royal Navy)
- the Ds (Professor Callum is usually busy marking examination papers)
Married women with no mention of a 'Mr', therefore apparently widowed or divorced (for brevity, let's not mention the mothers of those listed above as fatherless):
Other missing family members
- Father 'old': Jacky Warriner" - his father is described as old (PP34)
- Motherless: Port and Starboard – no mother; she died when they were babies.
- Uncle-less: Nancy and Peggy feel the absence of their Uncle Jim quite keenly, regarding this as treachery