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Arthur Ransome Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS230

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Arthur Ransome Collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and printed matter related to the life and writings of Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), the English journalist, critic, and renowned children's author best known for his series of books, "Swallows and Amazons."

The collection comprises 5 boxes (1.25 l.f.) of materials and is divided into five series. Nineteen letters, most handwritten or typed by Ransome, are retained in the collection, including correspondence from Ransome to several publishers, including Rupert-Hart Davis, H. W. Wilson, and John G. Wilson. Five letters from Ransome to Helena Hirst are also present. One of Ransome's letters written from Petersburg in 1914, detailing the situation in Russia as it entered World War I, highlights the correspondence file. The collection contains three valuable manuscripts written by Ransome: a typed and edited printer's proof of his book "'Racundra's' First Cruise," a typed, heavily edited, and signed manuscript of his story "The Soldier and Death," and two autograph notebooks titled "Thirteen Caucasian Folk Tales." Many essays by and about Ransome, mostly in the form of xerox copies, are also in this collection. A handful of articles by Ransome, including a series of dispatches Ransome wrote for "The China Weekly Review" and an essay about his reasons for writing the book "Swallows and Amazons," are preserved. Numerous essays about Ransome provide reviews of his works and significant biographical and bibliographical information.

The Arthur Ransome Collection is divided into five series: correspondence, manuscripts, printed matter by Arthur Ransome, printed matter about Arthur Ransome, and miscellaneous material. This collection of letters, manuscripts, and printed matter supplements the Frank Kurt Cylke Collection of Arthur Ransome, which is also found at the Georgetown University Library, Special Collections Division. Cylke's Collection includes almost all of Ransome's first editions and totals about 200 volumes.

SYNOPSIS: The Arthur Ransome Collection is divided into five series as described below: Series 1: Correspondence. Contains letters, most written by Arthur Ransome, to various individuals. Arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent. Series 2: Manuscripts. Contains three manuscripts written by Arthur Ransome: "'Racundra's' First Cruise," "The Soldier and Death," and "Thirteen Caucasian Folk Tales." Arranged alphabetically by title of work. Series 3: Printed Matter by Arthur Ransome. Contains six folders of printed matter, mostly xerox copies of essays, by Arthur Ransome. Arranged alphabetically by essay title. Series 4: Printed Matter about Arthur Ransome. Contains printed matter, mostly xerox copies, about Arthur Ransome and his works. Arranged alphabetically by subject. Series 5: Miscellaneous. Contains four folders of miscellaneous material about Arthur Ransome, including a photograph, an audio tape of a radio show, and world wide web pages about Ransome.

ABBREVIATIONS: ALS - Autograph Letter Signed AM - Autograph Manuscript AMS - Autograph Manuscript Signed TEL - Telegram TLS - Typed Letter Signed TM - Typed Manuscript TMS - Typed Manuscript Signed


  • 1913 - 2011

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), noted author of children's books and originator of the modern holiday adventure story for youngsters, was born on January 18, 1884, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. His father, Cyric, was as a history professor at Leeds University. During his childhood, Arthur Ransome spent vacations, sailing, camping, and exploring in England's Lake Country near Lake Coniston and Lake Windermere. From an early age, he was also an avid fisherman. Educated at Rugby, where he resided in Lewis Carroll's study room, Ransome initially embarked on a career in journalism. For a time, he worked for the London publishing firm of Grant Richards. Next, Ransome served as a foreign correspondent for the "Manchester Guardian." In 1913, he visited Russia and became sympathetic towards the cause of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks. While in Russia, Ransome reported on the Revolution of 1917 and compiled stories published as "Old Peter's Russian Tales," a collection of 21 folktales. Ransome was expelled from Russia by the Soviet regime, but he escaped safely, thanks to the assistance of Evgenia Shelepina, Trotsky's personal secretary. Shelepina fled with Ransome and eventually married him. Ransome's duty as a foreign correspondent also led him to China, where he wrote a series of articles in the 1920s. It was not until age 45 that Ransome began to write the series of books, "Swallows and Amazons," for which he is most remembered. Comprised of twelve books, the "Swallows and Amazons" series was a set of holiday adventure stories for young boys and girls. The series included the following books: "Swallows and Amazons" (1930), "Swallowdale" (1931), "Peter Duck" (1932), "Winter Holiday" (1933), "Coot Club" (1934), "Pigeon Post" (1936), "We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea" (1937), "Secret Water" (1939), "The Big Six" (1940), "Missee Lee" (1941), "The Picts and the Martyrs" (1943), and "Great Northern?" (1947). Ransome won the first Carnegie Medal, awarded to the best children's book of the year, in 1936 for "Pigeon Post." Ransome's earlier works included "Highways and Byways in Fairyland" (1905), "Bohemia in London" (1907), "A History of Storytelling" (1909), "Edgar Allen Poe: A Critical Study" (1910), "Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study" (1912), "Old Peter's Russian Tales" (1916), "Six Weeks in Russia" (1919), "The Soldier and Death" (1920), "The Crisis in Russia" (1921), and "The Chinese Puzzle" (1927). Arthur Ransome died on June 3, 1967, in Manchester, England, at the age of 83.


1.25 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Arthur Ransome Collection
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057