Arthur Ransome was born in Leeds on 18th Jan 1884. As a small boy he had holidays around Coniston, and attended preparatory school in Windermere, which gave Ransome an early taste for Lakeland. After completing his education, he worked in London, coming North whenever he could.
He became a friend of W.G. Collingwood, writer artist and secretary to John Ruskin. Collingwood lived at Lanehead, beside Coniston Water, and it was here that Ransome learned to sail. Ransome's favourite childhood book was W.G. Collingwood's Thorstein of the Mere, which was set around Coniston.
After an unsuccessful marriage, he went to Russia, where he met his future wife Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, who had been Trotsky's secretary. In 1924, he gained a divorce, and was able to marry Evgenia and come back to The Lake District, living first in the Winster Valley. Apart from two periods when he went South, he lived in Cumbria for the rest of his life, finding inspiration and settings for Swallows and Amazons. His last house was Hill Top at Haverthwaite.
Arthur Ransome based his book 'Swallows and Amazons' on Coniston Water, and much fun may be had trying to discover the locations of the stories. There are special interest cruises on the Coniston Launch which explore the locations used by Arthur Ransome in his books. The Steam Yacht Gondola which sails around Coniston, gave the idea for Captain Flint's houseboat, although this was eventually modelled on Esperance (now at Windermere Steamboat Musem).
Arthur Ransome died on 3rd June 1967, and his grave is in St Paul's Church, Rusland. His wife Evgenia (1894-1975) is also buried here.
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Through The Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews
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