Arthur Ransome Wiki

Violence is the expression of physical or verbal force against one or more people, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt. Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series, which contains violence, clashes somewhat with modern accepted standards, as many people are opposed to the depiction of violence in children's literature. This Arthur Ransome Wiki page is an attempt to catalogue episodes of violence depicted in Arthur Ransome's books.

Violence in the books

  • Swallows and Amazons (published 1930)
    • When the Swallows and Amazons first meet: If it had come to a fight, it might have been a very near thing. But it did not come to a fight as they parley and form an alliance (SA10).
    • The War between the Swallows and Amazons aims to capture the enemy ship (SA10,11).
    • The Battle in Houseboat Bay: good-natured violence; cannon fire and a pillow fight followed by theatrical walking of the plank (SA27).
  • 'Their Own Story'
  • Swallowdale (1931)
  • Peter Duck (1932): the most violent of the books, possibly characteristic of a Peter Duck story.
    • This includes guns fired at the crew of Wild Cat (PD32,34), and the beating of Bill when the Viper crew capture the Wild Cat (PD30). Earlier Bill said I got more’n half a rope’s-ending next morning when he (Black Jake) come on deck and find you’d cleared out and There’s nobody aboard the Viper what anybody can lay into now (PD14). On the Wild Cat But no ropes-end searched him out or thudded on the planking (PD15).
    • Mr Duck recalls life on ships many years ago he was brought up at a rope’s end and on the island where he was shipwrecked there was no bosun after me with a rope’s end but then he went on the treasure ship as a cabin-boy since the old man threw the last one overboard to teach him swimming one day when he was playful like (PD5)
    • Captain Flint and Mr Duck find skulls and bones on the beach near Black Jake's diggings: 'Fighting, or murder." (PD20)
  • Winter Holiday (1933)
  • Coot Club (1934)
    • Violence among the Hullabaloos: Livy slaps the 'fat man' (un-named Hullabaloo) across the face for commenting on her not wearing skirts (CC8).
    • Mrs Barrable describes how during her childhood her brother Richard caught a grass snake .. and got beaten afterwards for taking it to school with him and letting it get loose in the middle of a lesson. Dorothea said He wouldn't mind being beaten for its sake. (CC22).
  • Pigeon Post (1936)
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (1937)
    • When the Flushing pilot thinks that John is "a sort of Roger" and the captain and crew’s "merry barty" in the cabin is not to be disturbed he says "Very fierce man .... I knew such one when I was a boy in sailing ship .... very sore" and suggests a rope was used on him (WD20.
    • Hanging the Swallows for piracy is discussed on their return from Holland: Titty says .. Jim, do prosecute. Nancy'd be simply delighted (WD26).
  • Secret Water (1939)
    • The Mastadon is told to get rid of the invaders (the Swallows and Amazons) though they MUSTN'T SET FIRE TO THEIR TENTS (SW15).
    • When the savages (the Amazons and Eels) rushed the camp, Bridget sees John, Susan, Titty, Roger brought to the ground and roped as prisoners while she is a (willing) human sacrifice (SW28).
  • The Big Six (1940)
    • Bill says to George's friend Ralph Been swimming? and A large hand swung round and caught him on the side of the head (BS29).
  • Missee Lee (1941): another Peter Duck story with gunshots and references to beheading:
    • Captain Flint is nearly thrown overboard (ML4) and then kept in a cage (ML8).
    • The three small boys mimic head chopping with their hand on their necks (ML8), and so does Missee Lee when asked what happened to prisoners who are not ransomed (ML13)
    • Captain Flint refers to being in prison once when he was at Oxford: A fancy for policemen’s helmets on Boat-race night (ML16).
    • When they are "Free but prisoners" the guard near their boats unhitched a short carbine and near the bridge they heard the sharp click of bolts as the men made ready their carbines; both as warnings (ML17).
    • They hear gunshots on shore from the Shining Moon when Chang challenges Missee Lee, and the Shining Moon is fired at by the pursuing junks (ML27)
  • The Picts And The Martyrs: or Not Welcome At All (1943)
  • Great Northern? (1947): The use of firearms qualifies this as a Peter Duck story according to Christina Hardyment Three of the books are different from the rest .... 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 (CFT pp26-27 ).
  • 'Coots in the North'

Violence to animals[]

  • If Bill had found it [a knife], he might have shot at a parrot with it. (PD20)