Arthur Ransome in a time of war and revolution

100 years on from World War 1 and the Russian Revolution, Chobham Festival is turning a spotlight on a lesser known part of the history of that era and of Russia’s revolutionary years.

Arthur Ransome, the classic children’s author of books such as Swallows and Amazons, Swallowdale and Pigeon Post, is the featured author at the festival’s ChobLit book event, on Sunday 16th September.

Ransome enthusiast Paul Crisp will be delving into the author’s involvement in espionage and the possibility he was a double agent, spying for CHEKA, the forerunner of the KGB, as well as Britain.

Arthur Ransome’s stories of school holiday adventures of Susan, John, Titty, Roger and friends in the Lake District and Norfolk, epitomised British values of the old school. Yet Ransome himself was a bohemian character with radical leanings.

As a journalist he spent much of the 1914-18 Great War in Russia and on the Eastern Front -often coming home at great risk because of U-Boats – and reported on both the Russian Revolution and civil war. During his time in Russia, he befriended and subsequently married Trotsky’s secretary Evgenia Shelepina.

Spend a cosy Sunday afternoon learning more about the international adventures of the intriguing Ransome over Prosecco and cake in the aisles of St Saviour’s Church at Valley End (the smaller sister church of St Lawrence).

Paul Crisp learnt to sail as a child by reading Swallows & Amazons, and practising the sailing mentioned with a model dinghy. He has been messing about with boats ever since.

An early member of The Arthur Ransome Society, for over twenty years Paul has been custodian and owner of one of Ransome’s own dinghies. He has produced several books on the author’s early works, and as a historian interested especially in aspects of the Great War, he is looking forward to bringing together two subjects which have been important in his life.

Details of the event – Box Office, 01276 857222.