Arthur Ransome Wiki
John Walker
John Walker
late July (SA5); perhaps about 1918
shorter than Nancy
Master of Swallow

Commodore of Alliance
Mate of Wild Cat
Mate of Goblin (WD3)
Master of Goblin (WD15)
Acting skipper of Goblin (WD19)
Captain of Wizard

Mate of Sea Bear
Native Residence:
The South

School may be near the Lake

Future career:
Taqui Altounyan (although she's female)

John Walker — eldest of the Walker family children and Captain of the Swallow Captain John is generally the more rational of the two captains, Captain Nancy being inclined to recklessness. John is the closest thing to a father-figure that the Walker children have, as their real father is usually away at sea.

John expects to follow his father into the Navy: I shall be going to sea some day .... and so will Roger. But we'll always come back here (to Wild Cat Island) on leave (SA21). When Titty says that John doesn't really need Latin, but knows mathematics, John adds I'm going into the Navy .... like Father (ML16). He has Algebra as a holiday task (SD16). He said (about speaking to the pilot) I know a little French. But jolly little. I'm always bottom for it at school” (WD14).

John plays rugby at school, as he says after being quarantined for a month: It’s lucky it’s not the football term .... A month might make just the difference about getting into the fifteen (WH9).


  • John recalls his father saying "One hand for yourself and one for the ship". His father had told him that years ago, when he was a little boy and had tumbled down in the bottom of a fishing boat while using both hands to pass Daddy a rope (WD12).
  • Falmouth was where John and the others had holidays and sailed.


  • In Swallows and Amazons John becomes Commodore of the fleet, with Swallow as flagship. This is largely thanks to Titty's capture of Amazon as the other Swallows rowed to Beckfoot.
  • Possibly John's greatest role is in We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea where he forced into a position of even great responsibility as he captains the Goblin with a seasick crew and only a Woolworth Plate and torch as a signal light.

John has more technical maritime knowledge than Nancy, eg telling Nancy about leading lights (SA11). But Jim Brading tells them in a first lesson in pilotage to leave conical buoys to starboard .... but we leave the conical buoys to port now, because we’re going out. Soon after Roger says We’re leaving the port-hand buoy to starboard ... John replies Because we’re going down the river, not up and Jim grinned to hear his lesson passed on so very soon after it had been learnt (WD4).


Literary reference[]

The main character Donny Walker in the Strong Winds Trilogy by Julia Jones is explicitly named after John Walker (Donny is his nickname).