Choose your chapter of Swallows and Amazons if not a duffer

Fans of Arthur Ransome who want to take part in a marathon reading of the classic Lake District story Swallows and Amazons can now volunteer via a new website launched this week.

The site, , invites readers to choose from a list of chapters for the event which will be staged on the shores of Coniston in September.

Organised by the University of Liverpool in association with the Lake District National Park and the Arthur Ransome Trust and sponsored by Clocktower of Milnthorpe, the literary marathon is expected to take all day on Sunday September 3.

The name of the website comes from the telegram sent by the father of the children in the story who want to sail and camp on an island. He replies:  “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown.”

A number of celebrity readers have already signed up to take part including actors from the 1974 and 2016 film versions of Swallows and Amazons, Sophie Neville and Hannah Jayne Thorp, the screenplay writer Andrea Gibb, the director of the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, Becky Heaton Cooper, and Christopher Wordsworth, the great great great great grandson of the poet William Wordsworth.

not duffers sketch

Better drowned than duffers: Arthur Ransome’s own sketch for Swallows and Amazons, published by Jonathan Cape

Tom Harvey, the owner of Clocktower domestic applicances is going to be on duty on the day brewing tea and coffee for the reading team.

The organiser Dr Chris Routledge, head of Continuing Education, English Language and Literature, at Liverpool University, is hoping for some young readers to join the team – along with his 13 year old daughter Caitlin, and Elizabeth Kaye, the 10 year old daughter of Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, owners of Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel.

He said: “Swallows and Amazons still appeals to all ages and all generations, and we’ve been delighted with the response to this event. It will mark the 50th anniversary of Ransome’s death, and is a celebration of reading, the Lake District and being outdoors.”

You can sign up as a volunteer here:


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