The Arthur Ransome - Sir Bertram Jerram Collection consists of nine letters and one postcard written by the noted author of children's books Arthur Ransome (1884-1967) to Jerram. One of the letters, which are preserved in chronological order, dates to 1929, but the others date from 1952 to 1953. Some of the correspondence focuses on Jerram's uncle, E.F. Knight (1852-1925), the famous yachtsman, whom Ransome greatly admired. Knight, war correspondent, barrister, and author, commanded the voyages of small sailing yachts to South America, the West Indies, and the Baltic. For his part, Jerram (1891-1971) was a diplomat who served as consul at Tallin and ambassador to Sweden and Chile. Some of the letters discuss sailing, one of Ransome's great passions. The collection is contained in one archival box (0.25 linear feet). The Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division also has the Arthur Ransome Collection compiled by Frank Kurt Cylke, which contains correspondence, manuscripts, and printed matter related to the life and writings of Ransome.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES: Arthur Ransome (1884-1967), noted author of children's books and originator of the modern holiday adventure story for youngsters, was born on January 18, 1884, in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. His father, Cyric, was a history professor at Leeds University. During his childhood, Arthur Ransome spent vacations sailing, camping, and exploring England's Lake Country near Lake Coniston and Lake Windemere. From an early age, he was also an avid fisherman.

Educated at Rugby, where he resided in Lewis Carroll's study room, Ransome initially embarked on a career in journalism. For a time, he worked for the London publishing firm of Grant Richards. Next, Ransome served as a foreign correspondent for the "Manchester Guardian." In 1913, he visited Russia and became sympathetic towards the cause of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks. While in Russia, Ransome reported on the Revolution of 1917 and compiled stories published as "Old Peter's Russian Tales," a collection of 21 folk tales. Ransome was expelled from Russia by the Soviet regime, but he escaped safely, thanks to the assistance of Evgenia Shelepina, Trotsky's personal secretary. Shelepina fled with Ransome and eventually married him. Ransome's duty as a foreign correspondent also led him to China, where he wrote a series of articles in the 1920s.

It was not until age 45 that Ransome began to write the series of books, "Swallows and Amazons," for which he is most remembered. Comprised of twelve books, the "Swallows and Amazons" series was a set of holiday adventure stories for young boys and girls. Ransome won the first Carnegie Medal , awarded to the best children's book of the year, in 1936 for "Pigeon Post."

Arthur Ransome died on June 3, 1967, in Manchester, England, at the age of 83.

Edward Frederick Knight (1852-1925) , British yachtsman and author, was born in Cumberland but raised in France. His father was a retired army officer. Knight attempted to enlist in the Franco-Prussian War but was denied because of his English nationality. Nevertheless, he accompanied French troops into the Sahara. Returning to England, he attended Cambridge.

During vacations from school, Knight spent time in France and learned to sail a small boat in the River Seine. Soon he bought his first cruising yacht, the "Ripple," a 6-ton yawl. He cruised the English Channel and the French coast. When he was 28, Knight purchased with a partner a 28-ton yawl, the "Falcon," upon which he sailed to the Amazon and explored the South American rivers and coast. His book "Cruise of the Falcon" (1884) was based on this trip, and it was a great success. "The Falcon in the Baltic" (1888) became popular, too. Yet another book, the "Cruise of the Alerte" was based on his experiences searching for lost treasure in Trinidad. His book "Small Boat Sailing" educated many amateur yachtsmen. Knight also served as a war correspondent for "The Times" and the "Morning Post."

[Source: "The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea." ed. Peter Kemp. London: Oxford University Press, 1976.]

Sir Bertrand Jerram (1891-1971), the nephew of Edward Frederick Knight, was a longtime diplomat for the United Kingdom. Jerram was appointed British Ambassador to Chile in 1949. During his long diplomatic and consular career, he served in the Soviet Union (1923-1927), in Tallinn as Consul in 1928, and in Helsingfors and as Commercial Counselor (1930). He also was Commercial Counselor in Warsaw (1936), Spain (1937), and Buenos Aires (1945-1947). Moreover, Jerram was Minister (1945-1947) and then Ambassador (1947-1948) to Sweden. He also was Minister at Vienna (1948-1949).

[Source: "United Nations Bulletin." Vol. X, page 272, March 15, 1951.]

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Status: Open.

Provenance: Purchased from Michael Silverman, September 1999.

Processed by Scott S. Taylor, September 2004.

BULK DATES: 1952 - 1953
SPAN DATES: 1929 - 1953

EXTENT: 1 box (0.25 l.f.)