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Nevil Shute (1899–1960)

Author of On the Beach

58+ Works 18,065 Members 636 Reviews 73 Favorited

About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in Ealing, London, England, on January, 17 1899. At the age of 11, Norway played truant from his first preparatory school in Hammersmith. After he was discovered, he was sent to the Dragon School, Oxford, and from there to Shrewsbury. He was on holiday in Dublin at the show more time of the Easter rising of 1916 and acted as an ambulance driver, winning a commendation for gallant conduct. He then entered the Royal Military Academy, intending to be commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps, but a bad stammer led to his being failed at his final medical examination and returned to civil life. The last few months of the war were spent on home service as a private in the Suffolk Regiment. In 1919, Norway went to Balliol College, Oxford, where he took a third class honors course in engineering science in 1922. During the vacations he worked, unpaid, as an aeronautical engineer, for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company at Hendon, and then for Geoffrey de Havilland's own firm, which he joined as an employee upon finishing at Oxford. He learned to fly and gained experience as a test observer. During the evenings he diligently wrote novels and short stories unperturbed by rejection slips from publishers. In 1924 Norway took the post of Chief Calculator to the Airship Guarantee Company, to work on the construction of the R100. In 1929 he became Deputy Chief Engineer under Barnes Wallis, and in the following year he flew to and from Canada in the R100. After the end of the airship project, jobs were hard to come by due to the depression so Shute started an aircraft manufacturing company, Airspeed Limited. This company was ultimately successful and built a large number of aircraft during the war. Shute remained joint managing director until 1938. When the business became too routine, he decided to get out of the rut and live by writing. The de Havillands, the first aviation job Shute had ever had, wound up buying Airspeed Ltd. He had by then enjoyed some success as a novelist and had sold the film rights of Lonely Road and Ruined City. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Norway joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Miscellaneous Weapons Department. Rising to Lieutenant Commander, he found experimenting with secret weapons a job after his own heart. But he found that his growing celebrity as a writer caused him to be in the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944, for the Ministry of Information, and to be sent to Burma as a correspondent in 1945. He entered Rangoon with the 15th Corps from Arakan. Soon after demobilisation in 1945 he emigrated to Australia and made his home in Langwarrin, Victoria. His output of novels, which began with Marazan (1926) continued to the end. Shute was one of the leading aeronautical engineers in Britain during the 30's and a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. When he began writing in the 20's, he feared that a reputation as a writer of fiction might harm his engineering career. For this reason he published under his two Christian names, Nevil Shute and engineered under his "real" name, Nevil S. Norway. Nevil Shute Norway died in Melbourne on January, 12 1960. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Works by Nevil Shute

On the Beach (1957) 4,798 copies
A Town Like Alice (1950) 3,657 copies
Trustee from the Toolroom (1960) 873 copies
Pied Piper (1942) 873 copies
No Highway (1948) 581 copies
Pastoral (1944) 570 copies
The Far Country (1952) 566 copies
Requiem for a Wren (1955) 535 copies
The Chequer Board (1947) 534 copies
Round the Bend (1951) 487 copies
In the Wet (1953) 439 copies
An Old Captivity (1940) 435 copies
Most Secret (1945) 424 copies
The Rainbow and the Rose (1958) 388 copies
Slide Rule (1954) 349 copies
Landfall (1940) 325 copies
Beyond the Black Stump (1956) 321 copies
Ruined City (1938) 295 copies
So Disdained (1928) 274 copies
Marazan (1926) 263 copies
Lonely Road (1932) 247 copies
Stephen Morris (1961) 182 copies
On the Beach (abridged) (1972) 68 copies
Vinland the Good (1946) 37 copies
The Seafarers (2002) 14 copies
Ruined City / Landfall (1968) 10 copies
See List 2 copies
pied piper 1 copy
Formynderen 2 (1988) 1 copy
Förmyndaren 1 copy
A Town Like Alice [abridged] (1992) — Author — 1 copy

Associated Works

Secret Weapons of World War II (1956) — Foreword, some editions — 76 copies
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two (2017) — Contributor — 74 copies
Once is enough (1959) — Foreword, some editions — 67 copies
On the Beach [1959 film] (1959) — Original book — 44 copies
A Town like Alice [1981 TV mini series] (1958) — Original novel — 43 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1976 v01 (1976) — Contributor — 31 copies
A Town Like Alice [1956 film] (1956) — Original book — 24 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1960 v03 (1960) — Author — 18 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1959 v01 (1959) — Contributor — 15 copies
On the Beach [2000 film] — Original book — 6 copies
The Far Country [1987 miniseries] (1987) — Original book — 4 copies
Pied Piper [1942 film] — Original book — 2 copies


1950s (51) 20th century (139) Action/Adventure Stories (59) adventure (109) apocalypse (98) apocalyptic (54) Australia (763) Australian (137) Australian fiction (104) Australian literature (104) aviation (117) British (78) classic (116) classics (94) dystopia (76) ebook (93) England (123) English literature (49) fiction (3,013) general fiction (94) historical fiction (201) Kindle (71) literature (118) Malaya (70) Malaysia (80) Nevil Shute (298) novel (449) nuclear war (166) paperback (55) post-apocalyptic (202) read (169) Roman (104) romance (137) science fiction (407) sf (68) thriller (54) to-read (656) unread (102) war (162) WWII (625)

Common Knowledge



January 2022: Nevil Shute in Monthly Author Reads (June 2022)


Neat, but very masculine. Portrayals of women quaint shallow and annoying. Peter's wife bugs. Interesting to think about what people would do if they knew when they would go. Really no rioting?
emmby | 173 other reviews | Oct 4, 2023 |
An enjoyable adventure story that makers of things will enjoy, though it doesn't have quite as much of a "do-it-yourself" aspect as I had expected.
lschiff | 30 other reviews | Sep 24, 2023 |
When it comes to fiction, readers are willing to accept the most fantastic and supernatural, but this willingness has a lot to do with the genre. We can accept almost anything in Fantasy or Science-Fiction that we could not accept in psychological fiction. This is more or less the case with The rainbow and the rose.

Like many of Nevil Shute's novels The rainbow and the rose is set in the world of aviation. More than other novels, The rainbow and the rose describes a lot of bravoura and daring-do, even to the point where endangering others is discussed by characters in the novel. To see what people are willing to do for others, the true test of friendship and loyalty, are an important theme in the novel. Some of the norms and values in Shute's work are now quite distant to us, and start feeling quaint. Although The rainbow and the rose is one of Shute's final novels, first published in 1958, Shute's moral framework belongs firmy to the 1920s - 40s. Still, unlike much other fiction from that period, the novels of Nevil Shute are still very readable because they are so well-written.

What is a bit difficult about The rainbow and the rose is the jumping perspective. The narrator who for the most part is the main character sees the past through they eyes of another character. When this first happens, the circumstances seem very natural, as the narrator, Ron Clake, is deadly tired and stays the night in the home of the other character, John Pascoe. However, throughout the novel this happens a few more times, really stretching the reader's willingness to go along in this. Toward the end of the novel the narrator even has a moment that by the end of the novel is explained or supposed to have happened around the time Pascoe died. Still all in all this is a powerful and memorable novel.
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edwinbcn | 12 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
A classic, but very depressing.
zot79 | 173 other reviews | Aug 20, 2023 |


1960s (1)
1950s (2)


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