Whatever happened in the Secret Life of Arthur Ransome.
Arthur Ransome a Secret Life.
Arthur Ransome the author of 'Swallows and Amazons' was born on 18 January, 1884. He lived at number 6 Ash grove, Hyde Park, Leeds, Yorkshire, England. He had a comfortable childhood spending summer and other holidays in the English Lake District. Indeed he completed his formal education in Windermere. From there he went to Rugby School, one of the top private educational establishments in the country, it remains so to this day. Whilst there he stayed in the rooms previously used by Lewis Carroll, the author of 'Alice in Wonderland'. He was not academically gifted and moved on to Yorkshire College. Here he studied chemistry for a time but abandoned education, moving to London to be a writer.
He became part of a Bohemian set of friends headed by Pamela Colman Smith. Here in this group of left wing thinkers his social concience and awareness came to the fore. He met and married Ivy Constance Walker in 1909, they had one daughter Tabitha the marriage was not a happy one and in 1924 they divorced. It was during this time in London that he wrote a book on Oscar Wild. Lord Alfred Douglas the lover of Wild, took Ransome to court for Libel. This and other problems caused him to leave London and head for St Petersburg.The year was 1913 and although still married, He wanted a new start.
Russia and a secret life.
He obtained employment as the foreign correspondent for 'The Daily News' newspaper. Rumblings of revolution were growing, Ransome alligned himself with the likes of Lenin and Trotsky. He went into print several times in support of radical politics, though In Britain it was thought that he had a romantic view of the class struggle. He remained in Russia and began to report from the Eastern front. He was well placed in 1917 when the Russian Revolution broke out, being close to both Lenin and Trotsky. He would later marry Trotskys secretary, Yevgeniya Petrovna Shelepina.
In 2002 official documents were released which showed that Ransome was not as he had appeared. Ransome accepted friend of the communists, was working for the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. Great concern was shown by MI5 because he expressed Bolshovik sympathies in his articles whilst working for the 'Manchester Guardian' newspaper. Which he began to write for in 1919. Ransome was not removed from the files of MI5 until 1937. MI6 however knew him to be Asset S76. and it was they who had requested his help in supplying information on the revolution to British authorities. At one point MI6 assisted in the smuggling of Yevgeniya to Sweden, it is thought she to may have become a British Agent there.
Swallows and Amazons.
By the early 1920s Ransome was moving away from radical journalism. By now he was living in Estonia and the romance of writing was returning. He had built a 30-ton ketch which he had called 'Racundra' He took the ketch on its maiden voyage around the Baltic, this became the basis for his first sailing book 'Racundra's First Cruise'. This also awakened the enjoyment of sailing within him.
The mid 1920s saw Ransome and Yevgeniya return to England and he settled in his beloved Lake District. By now sailing was a passion and in 1929 he wrote 'Swallows and Amazons'. More books were to follow and Ransome moved yet again. This time to East Anglia.
He died on 3 June, 1967 in a Manchester Hospital. After his death he went back to the lake district. He is buried along with his wife, in the churchyard of St Paul's Church, Rusland, Cumbria, England. He found great fame with his series of books, but the secret life he led we can only imagine.
Arthur Ransome Sailing
© 2012 Graham Lee