Best 1943 Adventures (9)

By: Joshua Glenn
June 18, 2018

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1943 adventure novels. Happy 75th anniversary!

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Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons adventure The Picts and the Martyrs or Not Welcome At All.

Nancy and Peggy, the ruthless and free-range Amazons, are forced to wear white pinafores, recite poetry, and play the piano! The bookish, relatively un-adventurous Dick and Dorothea Callum, who were befriended by the Swallows and Amazons in Winter Holiday (1933), are forced to live in an abandoned hut — learning new skills such as trout-guddling, rabbit-skinning, and burgling! And there are no Swallows! In this 11th installment in Ransome’s series, the last one set in the Lake District, Nancy and Peggy’s tyrannical Great Aunt Maria arrives for a 10-day visit, to keep an eye on her niece’s wayward children. She’s just as strong-willed as Nancy, and every adult in the area lives in fear of her; which is why the cook, the mailman, and others lend a hand, in one way or another, as Dick and Dorothea camp out next door to the Blacketts’ place… and as Nancy and Peggy sneak out whenever possible. Dick and Dorothea take their role as “Picts” seriously, which is a great pleasure; Dot is a great romanticizer. In the end, Great Aunt Maria gets her comeuppance.

Fun facts: One hears that Ransome’s wife, Genia, hated The Picts and the Martyrs while it was being written, and indeed was often discouraging about his books while he was working on them.

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JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

What do you think?

  1. Arthur Ransome’s Bolshevik connections are well worth an explore…a fascinating character. Some rumours that his wife may have been involved in smuggling diamonds to fund the Soviets, too? So incongruous (but wonderful) that he turned to writing mild childrens’ adventure stories.

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