Arthur Ransome (1884-1967)
Arthur Ransome, journalist and writer of children’s books, was born in 1884 in Leeds, where his father was a professor of history. Ransome was educated ar Rugby, where he was a poor scholar as well as being bad at games, and then studied chemistry at Yorkshire College (the precursor of Leeds University) where his father taught.
He abandoned college after a year and went to London to become a writer. Eventually he became a reporter for the Daily News, and later for the Manchester Guardian. As a journalist he visited Russia to cover the Russian revolutions of 1917, developed some sympathy for the Bolshevik cause and became personally close to a number of its leaders, including Lenin and Trotsky.
He divorced his first wife in 1924 and married Evgenia Shelepin, Trotsky’s secretary, with whom he fled from Russia. The couple stayed for a while in Estonia before settling in the Lake District, where Ransome continued as a journalist writing for the Manchester Guardian, often on foreign affairs and (for the “Country Diary” column) on fishing.
When Swallows and Amazons first appeared in 1930, Ransome had already been a published author for a quarter of a century. Swallows and Amazons was the first of the series of books that made his reputation as one of the best English writers of books for children.