Book Review: The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) – 2nd edition & Big Read info…

A fitting second edition ofThe Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) by award winning author Sophie Neville has just been published by The Lutterworth Press. The glossy re-packaged book boasts a new filmography along with even more memorable diary extracts and insights into the cast and crew’s life behind the scenes.

9780718894962_cover Amazons.indd
The new second edition book cover.

After being cast as Able-seaman Titty Walker in director Claude Whatham’s adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book, it was Sophie’s mother who encouraged her to record what has now become ‘a little bit of film history.’ Originally made available as an eBook, it first came out in paperback (published by Classic TV Press) to coincide with the 40th Anniversary Special Edition re-mastered DVD and Blu-ray of the movie distributed by StudioCanal in August 2014. A couple of years later plans for an updated version started to gather pace after a number of new stories began floating to the surface. Reading the book had stirred her mother’s memory along with many people she’d never met, who wrote to her with amusing anecdotes. These included names for the credits such as John Foster the ‘snake wrangler’ from Cumbria – the man who provided a live adder. Among others was Lesley Bennett (who played Mate Peggy), who’d been living in the Netherlands and working in Dubai when Sophie first began to type up the diaries. She met her future publisher during the publication of Swallows, Amazons and Coots written by Julian Lovelock, (editor of ‘The Arthur Ransome literary society’s journal Mixed Moss’). Sophie provided an engaging introduction for the book drawing on her role as the current President of the society. This occurred during a busy period where she also supplied a foreword for the first ever guidebook to Cumbria’s film history: An A-Z of Cumbria & the Lake District on Film (Hayloft Publishing Ltd.) and Albatros Media’s new edition of Arthur Ransome’sSwallowdale in the Czech Republic.

Over recent times Sophie has maintained strong links with the Lake District, performing signings and Q&As after the 40th anniversary screenings of the film. During one such event at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, all 250 seats were quickly filled and queues of people had to be turned away. She has further illustrated talks lined up this autumn and at the Tavistock Festival and Books East in 2018. After attending the Arthur Ransome Literary Weekend in Edinburgh, Sophie will be taking part in the marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Ransome.

Sophie Neville who once played Titty Walker
Sophie standing in front of a screen at a talk on the making of the original 1974 film.

Recently, she mentioned on social media that the scene filmed on Elterwater was one of her favourite day’s filming in the Lake District. Prompting staff at the nearby Elterwater Hostel (in the Langdale Valley) to send her an invitation to stay as their guest after the ‘Read Ransome’ event. Appropriately, this momentous occasion is to be held on the shores of Coniston on Sunday September 3rd. Other celebrity readers signed up to read chapters include: 14 year old actor Hannah Jayne Thorp from Burneside, who played the part of Peggy in last year’s film version of Swallows and Amazons. Along with Christina Hardyment, author of several Ransome-related books and senior executor for the Arthur Ransome Literary Estate. Meanwhile, next year The Arthur Ransome Society (the UK’s second largest literary society) will return back to Coniston for a long weekend of events from 25th to 28th May 2018, where they will be welcoming new members.


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