He wrote with a power that enthralled millions. Shute became, in his time, the most popular novelist in the world. He was born to tell stories – of life in the Australian outback and the American West, in Burma and Malaya. In the towns and villages of England – stories of the courage and decency of ordinary people. Of the power of friendship and the force of love, of drama, innocence and disaster.
Nevil Shute worked as an aeronautical engineer at Vickers before setting up his own airship company. He used pen name ‘Nevil Shute’ as, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels.
Shute served in both world wars and was a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War II, working on secret projects. He flew his own aircraft to Australia to research On the Beach, before settling there permanently. His books are based on his own wartime and aircraft industry experiences.
Aviation is a theme in many of Shute’s novels, which are written in a simple, highly readable style, with clearly delineated storylines. Shute’s works can be divided into three sequential thematic categories: Prewar, War, and Australia.
His novels are written in a simple, highly readable style, with clearly delineated plot lines. Where there is a romantic element, sex is referred to only obliquely. Many of the stories are introduced by a narrator who is not a character in the story. The most common theme in Shute’s novels is the dignity of work, spanning all classes. For example an Eastern European bar “hostess” (Ruined City) or brilliant boffin (No Highway).
The writer Nevil Shute is best remembered today for well-plotted novels. Including A Town Like Alice and On the Beach, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the 1950s.
Her accounts started out as private letters to family members back in England. But their immediacy, and the unparalleled drama of their subject matter, demanded wider publication. So although it’s a slim volume, The Sinn Féin Rebellion As I Saw It by Mrs Hamilton Norway has since taken its place among the Rising’s compulsory texts.