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Arthur Ransome papers (Collection)

Identifier: SC-44

Scope and Contents note

The Arthur Ransome Papers consists of correspondence, articles, and various personal papers, books written by Mr. Ransome, and books that formed part of his personal library.


  • 1907-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1907 - 1994


Biographical / Historical

Arthur Ransome was born 18 January 1884 in Leeds, England, the eldest of four children of Cyril and Edith Ransome. His father was a history professor at the institution which later became the University of Leeds. He was also an avid fisherman. Ransome's mother was a talented watercolor painter. In 1901 Ransome enrolled in his father's university to study science. He left after two terms to take a job as an errand boy for a London publisher, the first of a series of publishing jobs he took while trying to establish himself as a writer. His book Bohemia in London (1907) is the record of that time, recounting the friendships of aspiring writers and artists--living on cheese and apples, inspiration, and words.

In the course of his life in London's bohemia, Ransome met and married Ivy Constance Walker. Ivy and Arthur were married in 1909. He started his first trip to Russia in May 1913. Although he visited his wife and daughter on his periodic returns to England, sometimes with the hope of reconciliation, the marriage had ended. In spite of the difficulties, Ransome tried to maintain a friendly relationship with his daughter. Ransome's divorce from Ivy was finalized in 1924.

Ransome went to Russia to collect material for a book of Russian folktales. He was also commissioned to write a guidebook to St. Petersburg. He wrote the book, but it was never published because the Russian Revolution was in process and the city was being transformed into Leningrad. In 1916 Ransome became the Russian correspondent for the Daily News. Some of the rapidly shifting political movements and his part in them as well as his friendships with some of the major figures in the Russian political drama are the subject of many chapters of his autobiography and the basis for his books and pamphlets on Russia. In 1917 Ransome met Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina. Among other jobs for the revolution, Evgenia served for a time as personal secretary to Leon Trotsky. After Ransome's divorce was final he married Evgenia in 1924, and they returned to England to live. By this time he was a special correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. He was sent by them at various times to cover political unrest in Egypt and China. Ransome brought the skills of his lifetime of writing to the creation of Swallows and Amazons, and the strengths of all his work are fully present from the first. Chief among these is his characterization of children. He always works with a large cast, from eleven in Secret Water (1939) to four in We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (1937). In the first of the books, Swallows and Amazons, the reader meets the two families of children who appear in ten of the twelve books. The Walker family: John, Susan, Titty, Roger, (and when she gets old enough in a later book, baby Bridget) sail on Swallow. Nancy Blackett and her sister, Peggy, sail on Amazon.

Source: Lynch, Catherine M. "Arthur (Michell) Ransome." British Children's Writers, 1914-1960, edited by Donald R. Hettinga and Gary D. Schmidt, Gale, 1996. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 160. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 19 July 2017.


298 Volumes (298 volumes and 2 boxes in 24 linear feet.)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Aisle 20A--Shelf 7

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from R.F.G. Hollett old and rare book dealer by the Pollak library in 1968.

Arthur Ransome papers
Jaime Cornejo
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Repository Details

Part of the CSUF University Archives & Special Collections Repository

University Archives & Special Collections
Pollak Library South Room 352 (PLS 352)
Fullerton CA 92831-3599 USA
(657) 278-4751