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Swallows and Amazons

(Swallows and Amazons #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  29,770 ratings  ·  1,122 reviews
The first title in Arthur Ransome's classic series, originally published in 1930: for children, for grownups, for anyone captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Swallows and Amazons introduces the lovable Walker family, the camp on Wild Cat island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and the two intrepid Amazons, Nancy and Peggy Blackett. ...more
Paperback, 315 pages
Published July 16th 2010 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1930)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  29,770 ratings  ·  1,122 reviews

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Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recently watched the 1974 British film adaption of the 1930 novel Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, which in turn, prompted me to read the book.

How wonderful to see kids being allowed to experience life in a way that they’re no longer able to do, sailing to a small island on a lake, setting up camp, the simple joy of the outdoors. Fun and engaging for children and adults alike.
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

Swallows and Amazons, despite it being a popular old-fashioned children's book that almost every adult in England would have read, has never been on my radar and I don't think I'd ever even heard of it before. I imagine it's because some people think that Titty would make me laugh (there was a titter, but I am English).

There's not a lot I can really say about this book, despite nearly giving it five
Tharindu Dissanayake

I think it's unfair that Swallows and Amazons books are classified as children's. This has got no age limit! I - not having read any books from Swallows and Amazons series before - found this to be a fantastic read that is full of adventure as well as humor. when I started reading this, I had some doubt as to whether it would seem an uninteresting read or at least not really suited for adults. Well... it didn't need more than a few pages
This was a book that I never took to as a child. The sailing, the fantasy of being an explorer, making camps on islands or lake shores were appealing, but maybe too alien and unreal for an inner city child who occasionally got to go out on the row boats in London parks, or maybe it was simply the kind of childhood that I would have wanted as a child cooped up in a flat with no garden and cruelly forbidden from thundering down the stairs - like an elephant as my mother would have it, despite her ...more
Althea Ann
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I feel like I heard about this book throughout my childhood [I believe that the author wrote the introduction to one of my favorite childhood books, The Far-Distant Oxus, which was heavily influenced by this book], but I never came across a copy. I finally got around to reading it...

I do wish I'd read it as a child, and I hope that kids today are reading it (although they probably aren't). It's the sort of book that just doesn't seem to get published today.

Four young siblings ask permission to c
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
They sail around in boats and have jolly good fun.

I am amazed how little I remember about this book, which I know I read when I was about nine. Some of the things I read then I can recall in fair detail, and for many others there are still key scenes or plot elements that stay sharp. This one: total blank. Sorry, Mr. Ransome. Maybe aliens have operated on my brain.
Leo .
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Remember the first time I read this book, it was in reading class when I was about 10 years old...40 years ago! Man how time flies. I distinctly remember about thirty in the class, mixed boys and girls and how exited we were to have our turn to read a paragraph. I remember the story was used a lot when I was in primary school. We went to Botley camp in Somerset and there must of been 80 children from different schools and only 6 teachers to look after us. Oh! The nostalgia. We actually reenacted ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Sep 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Kaethe by: Top 100 Children's
I wrote a review of this and it disappeared. It was a good review, too, nicely scathing about the tedium and the kids playing with matches and ending with a reference to Heart of Darkness as a metaphor for British colonialism.

That it disappeared only solidifies in my mind the idea that it was the finest review I've ever written, or ever will write.

"Boring bloody slog" will have to serve.

Library copy.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: younger, adventure
This is a superficially simple tale about four siblings spending a week camping on a small island. They meet two local sisters and play pirates with them. I'm sure if I had read it as a child myself I would have loved the concept. As an adult I found it a little hard to get into at first. Not much happens actionwise in the first half of the book. The kids set up camp and we get a lot of useful information about boating. However, as the days pass and the characters' personalities became more deve ...more
I grew up reading Enid Blyton -- The Famous Five, the Adventure books, the boarding school stories -- and I loved the plucky, rosy-cheeked English children with their tinned pineapple and potted meat sandwiches, camping in farmers' fields or on rocky wind-swept islands, and getting involved with amusing and/or villainous foreigners who were scorned or pitied for not being English. I was too young at the time to notice or be bothered by all the casual racism and misogyny which makes Blyton mostly ...more
Many readers do seem to have both very much enjoyed Arthur Ransome's 1930 Swallows and Amazons and also tend to possess nostalgic remembrances of the novel from their own childhoods. But for me, yes indeed and also most frustratingly and annoyingly, my first personal encounter with Swallows and Amazons and as an older reader (in my fifties) has not at all been the pleasure for which I had been hoping but rather a totally and utterly forgettable, annoyingly tedious long and massively yawn-inducin ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
The book that truly made me fall in love with books. How I longed to be part of that little gang with freedom, boats, picnics, adventures etc.
I vividly recall passing my 11+ exam (those of you of a certain age will understand) and my parents buying me a 'proper' typewriter. How I adored that machine! I used to sit at my 'desk' typing out great chunks of this book. No idea quite why I did so, but I can only assume it was bound up with my love for it.
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrensbooks
My daughter Arwen always loved this book, and I found her a copy from 1939 this year for Christmas. So of course I read it.

It's among the most charming childrens' books I've ever read. It has a marvelous blending of real life and imagination (and I'm sure it was an inspiration to CS Lewis for his Narnia books. Though they soon go off into a purely imaginative land, they begin in a world where a wardrobe can be a doorway to another world.) Swallows and Amazons is like that, about the way that chi
Dannii Elle
This is the first book in the Swallows and Amazons series.

The Swallows are four siblings with a whole summer of adventures ahead of them. They receive permission form their parents to sail to a nearby island, at the centre of a lake bordering their summer home, and make camp there. They do just that, leaving the 'natives' far behind as they explore the uninhabited and unexplored natural world before them.

The movie adaptation for this novel was one of my childhood favourites but I had not ever re
Friend of Pixie
UPDATE: Well, it's been nearly a year and we're nearing the end of the series. Still going strong and finding the books just as wonderful! Because of these books, Logan started taking wilderness awareness classes, got a pocket knife for his birthday, and basically began taking an interest in physical and outdoor things more. We've read many, many books, but I imagine these will be a big part of his memories of childhood reading. And I must put in a plug for the Brilliance Audio versions read by ...more
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is somewhat magical - it takes you back to a time when not only childhood was more innocent and carefree but life and the world itself more wholesome and adventurous. If I could choose any decade in which to live, the 20s would probably be first or second choice and Swallows & Amazons is testament to that. The whole novel is a mix of childhood delight in the power of imagination and the timeless appeal of the great outdoors. I think a lot of its charm comes from the fact that this is n ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better drowned than duffers; if not duffers, won't drown...

In this first book of the series, the Walker children's father gives permission for them to spend the summer camping out and sailing in the Lake District of England. They expect to spend their time exploring, making maps, improving their sailing skills - and do not expect pirates or rivalry from others on the lake!

I recently tried to read this aloud to my nephew. I found that really did not work because there was too much nature and sail
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
It's hard to comprehend now, when parents won't even let their kids play out in the front yard, that children at one time were allowed to roam free outdoors like this, sailing and camping and being resourceful, and letting their imaginations run wild. This a wonderful book that is too often forgotten and overlooked these days. Instead of buying marketing gimmicks like The Dangerous Book for Boys, do your kids a favor and let them read this. ...more
Jennifer Black
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My husband read these books as a kid - I did not. He introduced them to me when we started dating, and we read them out loud together.

Now we have a 10 year old and we are enjoying reading the series out loud with her as well. She claims they're her favorite books (and to have unseated Harry Potter in that position is high praise from her indeed).

I do think they take a special kid or an adult with the right frame of mind to enjoy. Knowledge of sailing terminology is helpful. The plot doesn't move
Beth (bibliobeth)
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars if I could...
I first came across Swallows and Amazons as a child and really enjoyed it, as a result I believe I borrowed the other books in the series from the library as fast as I could read them! Reading it again as an adult was fun and brought back many fond memories of the four children and their adventures on Wild Cat Island. The book was published in 1930 and was inspired by the author Arthur Ransome teaching the children of his friends, the Altounyans to sail one su
Oh well, this bears out the idea that it's always difficult to write about happiness. The summer days of imagination and adventure are told here so matter-of-factly that nothing impresses or moves the reader. Several times I was expecting something to happen and was disappointed, and the only time that a thing does happen was told in quite an anticlimactic fashion. Have I been reading too much sensational literature, do you think?
What I liked was that the practical lessons about sailing, surviva
Jane Williams
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first met this as an extract in a Ladybird book - I suppose I'd have been about 4 at the time, and this would have been one of the first "real" books I met. A few years later, I got the full thing from the library, and was hooked. I read and re-read the series for years, and when we finally managed a visit to the Lake District, spent a lot of time exploring maps and lakes to find Wildcat Island and the rest of the places in the books.

Now, revisiting it as an adult, I'm still delighted, enthral
This was one of those "feel good" books, perfect for a tumultuous time in my life.

Arthur Ransome wrote a sweet book here of his adventures of a short summer vacation living on an island in a lake off the English coast as children. I loved how his mother set it all up for the neighbors to keep watch on the kids without interfering. I'm a much more fearful mother and was wondering throughout the whole book if I could let my kids do what they did. I loved the make-believe. I loved their knowledge
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite children's books of all time. Not so well known in the States, but a children's classic in Britain.

John, Susan, Titty and Roger have gone to stay in the Lake country for the Summer with their mother while their father is away at sea. When they discover an island on the lake, they beg their mother to allow them to camp on the island for the remainder of the Summer holidays. So sailing out in the boat named "Swallow" they soon find that the island is not as uninhabited as they
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ebookwormy1 by: BBC Top 100 List
This classic of English literature was read by most British children in the mid-twentieth century. I liked the whimsical adventures of the children, though the nineteenth century style which favors description and character development amidst slowly unraveling plots was a little fatiguing for this busy contemporary mama.

Bogged down with homeschooling responsibilities and distracted by other titles, Swallows & Amazons languished on my shelf, awaiting my return. It was another book that brought me
D.M. Dutcher
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, children-s
I wasn't expecting this to be as compelling as it was. Exotic to the point of being alien.

Four children are on vacation with their mother. They've asked permission to take a boat out to a nearby island, and their absentee father grants it. The swallows, named after their ship the Swallow, set out and soon encounter a houseboat with a cranky "pirate," and another child-captained ship, the Amazon. The two tomboys on it become friends and play-adversaries to the swallows over the seven days they sp
Charles Edwards-Freshwater
Have you ever read a book purely fuelled by nostalgia alone? Swallows and Amazons was my dad's favourite book as a child, and I remember him giving me an edition when I was fairly young (maybe around 8?) and loving the idea of sailing in a little boat, free and unrestricted around lakes and playing at pirates at sea.

So, with this rosy recollection in mind, I decided to tackle the book again now I'm almost 30, and I can quite honestly say that some books deserve to be left in the past.

Endless sai
Isaac Moss
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mind-numbingly dull.
I chose this from the 1001 books to read list within prior knowledge of anything regarding the book or author. What a delightful children's story it turned out to be! Set at the end of the 1920s it describes the adventures of children on a lake during their summer break. Fun and enjoyable full of innocence, simplicity and wonder. ...more
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Arthur Michell Ransome was an English author and journalist. He was educated in Windermere and Rugby. His family spent their summers at Nibthwaite, to the south of Coniston Water.

In 1902, Ransome abandoned a chemistry degree to become a publisher's office boy in London. He used this precarious existence to practise writing, producing several minor works before Bohemia in London (1907), a study of

Other books in the series

Swallows and Amazons (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Swallowdale (Swallows and Amazons, #2)
  • Peter Duck: A Treasure Hunt in the Caribbees (Swallows and Amazons, #3)
  • Winter Holiday (Swallows and Amazons, #4)
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  • Pigeon Post (Swallows and Amazons, #6)
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (Swallows and Amazons, #7)
  • Secret Water (Swallows and Amazons, #8)
  • The Big Six (Swallows and Amazons, #9)
  • Missee Lee (Swallows and Amazons, #10)
  • The Picts & the Martyrs or Not Welcome at All (Swallows and Amazons, #11)

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