Classic Arthur Ransome novel to be staged for the first time

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Head of content

ONE of Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome’s best-loved books is to be the subject of a stage adaptation.

Winter Holiday, set in the Lake District during a frozen winter, was the fourth book in the children’s books series, which tells of the adventures and friendship of the Walker, Blackett and Callum children.

The play is to be performed by Otley Community Players at the Courthouse arts centre in the town in February after the author’s literary estate approved the script – a new adaptation by Duncan and Nick Hall. It is the first time the book has been staged.

Arthur Ransome was born in Leeds in 1884 and lived an exciting and varied life, watching events in revolutionary Russia and marrying Trotsky’s secretary.

He settled in the Lake District in the 1920s and wrote his famous Swallows and Amazons series between 1929 and 1947.

The books feature a host of familiar places, including Coniston Water; Belle Isle on Windermere; Bowness and Coniston Old Man, although Ransome changed the names in the books.

Winter Holiday was based on Ransome’s own memories of the great frost of 1895 when Windermere froze from end to end.

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The play will be directed by Nick Hall, who used to direct, act and tour manage with Bradford professional theatre group Twisting Yarn.

It will feature music written by both Halls, who are best known as acoustic folk-rock band The Hall Brothers.

Co-writer Duncan said: “It has been a great privilege having leave from Arthur Ransome’s literary executors to adapt Winter Holiday for the stage. It is a timeless adventure written 80 years ago and it seems surprising it has never been dramatised before.”

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