Arthur Ransome Wiki

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome is a 2009 book by Roland Chambers.

He said in the Introduction (page 8) that he has intended his book initially as a brief and colourful exposé, a sharp adjustment to the whitewash hithertoo. But he then found fascination with which Ransome adopted or blended all the competing ideas of his generation and was on good terms with holders of opposing viewpoints: nationalists and internationalists, democrats and Marxist-Leninists, Bohemians and conservatives, champions of self-determination and imperialists. .

He refers to the series as: an Edwardian idyll of bun loaf and pemmican, of butter and marmalade sandwiches, of cotton tents and grog and tea at four, and children who say ‘ripping’ and play by the rules .... a world supervised by adults, but only at a distance .... (page 7).

He mentions (pages 6,357) two negative assessments of the "Swallows and Amazons" stories; David Garnett regretted that his old friend had perpetuated a fantasy he once opposed. He complained that the characters in contemporary children’s books are almost always polite, rational and well-behaved citizens of a sensibly managed world (though) this false picture is the work of a generation of violent rebels, who defied Victorian conventions and morality. William Trevor the Irish writer who was bewildered by the Walkers as a boy, later deciding they were miniature adults in a middle-class fantasy. He joked that if two departments of the civil service had lain abed for long enough, ‘they woulfd have produced the magnificently right-minded Swallows and Amazons.

But he noted (page 357) that J. R. R. Tolkien’s children owned the whole set, likewise A. A. Milne(s). The young Queen Elizabeth read them, and W. G. Collingwood lived long enough to say that "the second, Swallowdale, pleased him as much as the first, and I can’t say fairer than that".


  • The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome by Roland Chambers (2009, faber and faber, London) ISBN 978-0-571-22261-2