Arthur Ransome Wiki

The depiction of smoking in the Swallows and Amazons series reflects the attitudes and morals of the time in which the books were written. Smoking (like drinking) is acceptable in the books for adults, but generally not for children or youths.

Favourable depictions of smoking[]

Instances of smoking as comforting or desirable or otherwise approved-of:

  • Ted Walker purchases a box of cigars in Holland (WD23), and later smokes one when he takes the tiller of the Goblin. John sees him in the darkness of the cockpit, singing sea shanties steering with the one hand, with the red glow of the cigar in his other hand weaving circles in the dark .... Susan whispers to John He can't think its our fault, or he wouldn't be singing like that and Titty whispers He's been away from home a long time .... He's singing because he's nearly back (WD24). Later the Customs officers both accept the offer of a cigar (WD26).
  • Dr Dudgeon smokes cigarettes, and in the dusk Tom was very glad to see the glow of a cigarette at the edge of the lawn, and to find his father, resting from victims at last. He is prompted to speak to him about casting off the Margoletta; saying what if a huge motor-cruiser was across the dyke with our baby on the other side .... (CC6).
  • Titty urges Captain Flint "Don't waste it" when he is about to throw a cigar overboard before handling petrol (which later leads to the loss of Wild Cat) (ML2)

These homely or comforting depictions of smoking are reflected in parts of the Strong Winds Trilogy; see Smoking on String Winds Wiki.

Neutral depictions of smoking[]

Smoking that is depicted as a normal activity, usually by adults, usually with pipes. (Objection by the GA doesn't count; she objects to many things!):

  • Captain Flint smokes a pipe, and when the GA visits, Captain Flint goes up on the fell for a smoke .... Aunt Maria doesn’t like tobacco in the house (SD3). He has a cigar in Missee Lee (ML2).
  • Timothy smokes a pipe. Captain Flint was talking, too, with Squashy Hat. They were lying by the camp-fire, smoking their pipes (PP35).
  • Ted Walker (Daddy) smokes a pipe. When the North Polar Expedition get the key to the Fram in an old tobacco tin, John says Navy Cut. That’s what father smokes. Peggy says So does Uncle Jim (WH14).
  • Peter Duck smokes: Captain Flint and Peter Duck had been on deck for some time smoking their morning pipes ..... (PD15).
  • One of the woodmen that Titty and Roger see through the gap in the stone wall when they are exploring, is smoking a pipe, Bob who is resting and riding on the great log while the other (Jack) leads the horses (SD4). They see them later with the Billies (SD30).
  • Harry Bangate smokes a pipe; he says if I'd had knowed where them (bittern) nests was, it'd have been money in my pocket and tobacco in my old pipe. But they decide not to argue with Harry; Harry is unlike George Owdon who had plenty of pocket money already without robbing birds (BS3).
  • The landlord of the Roaring Donkey says Drinks on the house .... Pop for the young 'uns (BS8) when he gets The World's Whopper to display.
  • Roger finds an ordinary wooden pipe left by one of the burglars on Cormorant Island, near Captain Flint's trunk under the old tree stump (SA28); and Captain Flint attaches the pipe to a wooden fish with a message for the burglars: Honesty is the best policy (SA29).
  • Captain Flint was smoking a pipe (GN1), and that night the worried skipper was sitting and smoking (GN2). During his uncomfortable day watching the Pterodactyl from the cross-trees he had smoked nearly an ounce of tobacco (GN24).
  • Dorothy and Roger (but not Titty) notice the smell like a railway carriage of tobacco smoke from the Gaels who are stalking the land party (GN5).
  • Dorothy says on the second night There's one of the Gaels watching us NOW .... (they) saw the flicker of a match. Someone was lighting a pipe (GN7).
  • In CN the Bonnka owner and Mr Woods the lorryman both smoke pipes.
  • In the chapter of CN It’s Gone! there is a picture of the Bonnka owner feeding Joe’s rat and smoking a pipe: the only picture of someone smoking in any of the books, apart from "It's a different tyre" which shows a man smoking a pipe and wheeling a bicycle to where Dick is sketching tyre tracks (BS14).

Unfavourable or qualified depictions of smoking[]

Depictions of smoking which may be intended to cast a character in an unfavourable light, or where the appropriateness of the character smoking is qualified:

  • In Holland they saw a small boy with a huge cigar: They start them in their cradles said Daddy (WD23).
  • George Owdon and his friend strolled past, smoking cigarettes" (BS2). This may be intended to contrast their behaviour with the general wholesomeness of The Coot Club members.
  • Red-haired Bill chews tobacco in Peter Duck; this is tolerated by Susan (who finds him an old tin to spit into) and Captain Flint, who prohibits the practice below decks (PD15).
  • Jim Brading has taken up a pipe, but he had promised his uncle he would not smoke until he left school (WD3).
  • Mrs Newby complains about ... visitors with motor-cars and matches and cigarettes and no more thought in their heads than a cheese has. It takes nobbut a spark to start a fire when all's bone dry for the kindling (PP1).
  • The motorists who twice start a fire in Pigeon Post when they stop along the Dundale Road to eat sandwiches probably stopped for a smoke as well as sandwiches, though it is not explicitly stated: some muttonhead visitor's been chucking matches around (PP17,30).