01 December 2006

Ransome papers being auctioned next week

It says here:
Deep-pocketed admirers of Arthur Ransome, author of the Swallows and Amazons books, will be mustering at a Gloucestershire saleroom on Thursday, credit cards at the ready.
Under the hammer is much illuminating new evidence about Ransome’s literary apprenticeship in London, Paris and Wiltshire and his relationship with his first wife, Ivy Constance, and the manuscript of his first substantial children’s book, begun in 1914 for his only daughter, Tabitha.


The auction includes books that Ransome left with Ivy. One is his Rugby School hymnal, others are inscribed by friends such as the poet[s] Lascelles Abercrombie and [Edward] Thomas.

The liveliest lot of all is a 1,500-word memoir written in about 1945 by Tabitha. It says that Ivy was engaged to a cousin when she “at the eleventh hour decided to run away with my father — a Common Writer”. He “had a Wild, & Bohemian nature” and “lived an adventurous life in Paris with my mother”.

There are some interesting details about Ransome's life, too:
But life with a writer who spent his leisure time tramping across country with literary chums did not suit Ivy. Her tantrums, manipulations and subterfuges included a message that she was about to be kidnapped and the claim that she was having an affair with Ivar Campbell. Miserably aware that a war between parents was no fun for a child, Ransome decided in 1913 to decamp to Russia, officially in search of fairytales to retell for English children.

The memoir puts things slightly differently. “Then the 1914 war came and my Father went to Russia on Secret Service,” Tabitha writes, blowing the gaff on what had been concealed until recently by the Official Secrets Act. Poor sight and an ulcer-plagued gut prevented Ransome from enlisting, as Thomas so tragically did, but he was determined to do his bit. Debate still rages over when and why Ransome first began his unofficial reportage on the state that Russia was in before and after the 1917 revolution.

If you were wondering what to get me for Xmas....

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