Auctions | March 3, 2015

Signed First Edition "Swallows and Amazons" for Sale at Bonhams

A signed first edition of Arthur Ransome’s beloved children’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is set to go under the hammer in the Fine Books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical Photographs sale on 18 March at Bonhams Knightsbridge.

Estimated at £4,000-6,000, the book’s title page is not only signed by Ransome but also has a black and red ink drawing of a sailboat by the author.

Arthur Michell Ransome (1884 - 1967) was an English author and journalist. He is best known for his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series about the school-holiday adventures of children, mostly set in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads.

Before becoming a children’s book author, Ransome was a well-known foreign correspondent, working for papers such as the Manchester Guardian to report on the First World War and subsequently the Russian Revolution. He came to sympathise with the Bolshevik cause and was friendly with a number of its leaders, including Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.

After spending years living in Russia and the Baltic states, he returned to England to settle in the Lake District. He decided not to accept a position as a full-time foreign correspondent with the Guardian and instead wrote Swallows and Amazons in 1929.

Involving the traditional holiday pursuits of sailing, fishing and camping, with a dash of fantastical adventure, ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and its successors were so popular that they inspired countless imitations, and to this day are the basis for a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water, the two lakes Ransome adapted as his fictional North Country lake in the books.

The sale features 26 other items by or relating to this prolific writer, including more first editions, proof copies, and presentation copies of Ransome’s books. These items are part of the collection of John Cowen, well-known collector and author of A Ransome Book-Case- an essential guide to all of Ransome’s books, outlining the content and history of each title.