BACK in 1973 a film crew and actors descended on the Lake District to make a full-length feature film of author Arthur Ransome's classic children's story Swallows and Amazons.

The group included 12-year-old Sophie Neville, who had been cast as imaginative Titty Walker, along with Virginia McKenna (as Mrs Walker) and Ronald Fraser (as Captain Flint).

Now a book which focuses on the making of the film and how it influenced Sophie's life has been published.

The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) will be of interest to anyone who has seen the film, but also to everyone who is a fan of Ransome and his famous book, which tells the story of a summer in 1929 when a group of children camp on an island in the Lake District, meet new friends and have lots of adventures exploring the wonderful landscape in this area.

Sophie Neville was encouraged by her mother to keep a diary during the seven weeks or so of filming and extracts from it are interspersed among her memories of the cast and crew. The book therefore gives a child's-eye view of filming, backed up by her adult perspective and knowledge gleaned from having since spoken to many of those involved with the creation of the film.

It was not an easy shoot. The weather was cloudy and unpredictable most of the time and the director had to try to make the most of any brief moments of sunshine. Filming was well behind schedule most of the time.

It is clear that the child actors had great fun, fitting in filming scenes with sessions spent on school work.

Sophie Neville showed great interest in the filming and editing side of things - later she had a career in television production at the BBC.

The book offers insights into the exact locations where some scenes were filmed - including Windermere, Coniston Water, Peel Island, Elterwater and Derwentwater, plus a scene at Runnymeade. It is also revealed that producer Richard Pilbrow had considered making a sequel based on Ransome's Great Northern? which also features the Swallows and Amazons children.

The enthusiasm and interest in what goes on about her that Titty Walker displays in Ransome's story and the 1974 film are also reflected in Sophie Neville's reflections of her time filming, making this an enjoyable read that adds to the collective knowledge surrounding one of the country's best-loved children's stories.

l The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974) is published by The Lutterworth Press. Sophie Neville is the current president of The Arthur Ransome Society.