Arthur Ransome Wiki
Not to be confused with sex as in personal sexual identity: see Gender

This article attempts to list the (rare) instances where sex, sexuality or romanticism (or a rejection of these) are mentioned or alluded to 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

Sex, sexuality and romanticism[]

  • Bonny lass is Mary Swainson, aye, and a good wife she'll make and all said Old Billy. He laughed, and the woodman reddened and then laughed too (SD30).
  • Mary Swainson was now grown up and was going to marry Jack, the woodman, as soon as she saw fit, while Miss Turner, poor old thing, had never married at all (PM23).
  • Nancy and Peggy were referred to as Captain Flint's wives by the Chinese pirates: Melican man with two English wives (ML4).

Critical commentary[]

Despite aging from about twelve to fifteen over the series of books, Nancy, in common with all the children in Ransome's books, shows no sign of developing any interest in sex. Watson suggests that this is in part because Ransome is describing "a company of magical children" rather than completely realistic ones. In addition he suggests that Ransome is merely reflecting the historical and cultural context, "Children's fiction in the 1930s had found no way of writing about sex."[1]

Genia was "devasting" in her criticism of The Picts and the Martyrs in 1942, which delayed its publication (but Arthur's mother liked it) (Life, page 389). But though Nancy and John would now be about fifteen, the last two books centre on the younger ones (the brats): Dick and Dot (PM) and Dick and Roger (GN).

hopeless ..... the book as a whole is dead .... if the Swallows are not allowed to grow up .... the feeling of imitation and rehash (Genia on PM).


  1. Watson, Victor: Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp Routledge, 2000