On Arthur Ransome Wiki, the term Peter Duck story is used to describe the "stories within stories" status of some novels in the Swallows and Amazons series especially Peter Duck and Missee Lee as well as Great Northern? although the latter is not universally accepted as such.
Christina Hardyment wrote: Three of the books .... are different from the rest. In them the children are actually shot at with real guns. They are pure romance, realistic fancy rather than fantastical reality. They are not set in the school holidays, but in a free time of their own; they are stories told round the fire in the winter (CFT pp26-27 ).
Another term for this device of a story within a story is metafiction.
Characteristics of a 'Peter Duck story'
- ocean journeys (PD, ML, GN, but also WD)
- prolonged presence of Captain Flint (in all but PD, ML, GN he is absent or busy for large chunks of the story)
- non-use of the name Turner in reference to Captain Flint (PD, ML)
- Wild Cat (PD, ML)
- violence including gun shots (PD, ML, GN), torture (PD), references to beheading (ML)
- Peter Duck had been the most important character in the story they had made up during those winter evenings in the cabin of the wherry with Nancy and Peggy and Captain Flint. (SD4).
- reference to the process of making up a story (presumably PD, cited in PP): Stories made up by lantern light in the cabin of an old wherry in Norfolk (PP14).
- reference elsewhere to an adventure as though it exists as a published book:
- inscription on title page "based on information provided by the Swallows and Amazons" (ML)
- lack of fresh milk and mention of use of the condensed product though in all the other books except ML, fresh milk would be available close at hand, condensed milk is practical for long voyages or cruises in a small boat (PD, GN)
- use of Swallow and Amazon as ship's boats (PD, ML) – note that Swallow is owned by the Jacksons of Holly Howe (SD6)
- the physical presence of Gibber (PD, ML) (but note his presence also in TOS)