Arthur Ransome Wiki

Gibber is the monkey which Captain Flint gives to Roger Walker as his reward for his part in finding the stolen manuscript of Mixed Moss. Unlike Polly, Titty's parrot, Gibber only appears in two "Peter Duck stories", specifically Peter Duck and Missee Lee although he is occasionally mentioned in some of the other books as spending time at the zoo while Roger is on holiday.

Gibber appears in the early incarnation of Peter Duck, 'Their Own Story' (published in CFT) – in this text his name oscillates between Gibber and Jacko.


  • Swallows and Amazons (pre-appearance mention): Captain Flint takes an order for "Item: one monkey. With or without tail?" "With," said Roger. "The others are just apes." Then he says that there are monkeys nearer than Africa and a year is too long to wait, so he promises to get a monkey when he goes south to London to see his publisher (SA27,29)
  • 'Their Own Story': Gibber also called Jacko. Note that since 'Their Own Story' is set a couple of days after Christmas, that Gibber/Jacko might have been presented to Roger as a Christmas gift. Jacko is the name of E. F. Knight's monkey in The Cruise of the Alerte.
  • Peter Duck: Gibber is a prominent character
  • Swallowdale: Gibber and Bridget were both on the ship's papers but Roger had agreed that perhaps it would be as well if the monkey had his summer holidays at the same time ..., so Gibber had been packed off to spend a happy month, staying with relations at the Zoo (SD2).
  • Winter Holiday: When they are looking at the houseboat the D's hear about the burglary and how Captain Flint gave Titty a green parrot and Roger a monkey because they found his trunk. But the parrot and the monkey are at the zoo. Roger says Gibber's there too .... He's called Gibber because he gibbers .... especially when anybody's giving him monkey nuts and hasn't got any more (WH13).
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea: While cruising with Jim Brading near Pin Mill in Goblin, Titty imagines that last time we anchored there were palm trees on the bank and crocodiles ... it's an awful pity we haven't got the ship's parrot .... (Polly). Roger imagines Gibber too. He'd be simply fine sitting on the cross-trees, and much happier than at the Zoo. Titty looking up at the cross-trees found it easy to see the monkey and the parrot perched up there side by side (WD7). Roger remembers (when he is unsteadily crossing the gangplank to shore four-footed) the ways of Gibber (who was now spending his time spinning nautical yarns to the other monkeys in at the Zoo (WD23). (Does this mean that Gibber has nautical experience, or nautical yarn-spinning experience?)
  • Missee Lee: Gibber features prominently, and contributes to the destruction by fire of Wild Cat.

Nancy says that the animal Captain Flint is sending home from South America is called Timothy. Another monkey? said Roger. Or a parrot?" said Titty. He said he might be getting another (Dick thinks that it is an armadillo) (PP1).

Gibber as a plot device[]

Gibber's most significant role is when he sets fire to the Wild Cat in Missee Lee with Captain Flint's cigar. He did sign the Ship's Papers of Swallow, (inked at home), though we don't know when.

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You are standing into danger. This article or section contains conjecture.

It appears that Ransome realised that a real monkey camping in the Lake District would cause significant problems if he tried to include him as a participant in the "realistic" stories, hence Gibber's zoo holidays. He is not mentioned in most of the books and his absence is not usually commented on.


Is it "Gibber" or "Jibber"? Roger said Gibber is so-named "because he gibbers" (WH13). Wiktionary defines gibber: To talk unintelligibly or incoherently but gives no opening consonant guidance while Oxford plumps for 'J-' and goes for 'G-' or 'J-'. The Japanese translators call Gibber Jibbaa.

Native source[]

Jacko is the name of E F Knight's monkey in his book The Cruise of the Alerte, which is a significant source for Crab Island's geography in Peter Duck'.