Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint's Trunk, by Christina Hardyment (Jonathan Cape, £7.50) FOR ANYONE who read Hugh Brogan's The Life of Arthur Ransome, published earlier this year, this is an essential sequel, as the two books complement each other very well.
Brogan concentrated on Ransome the man, but left some tantalisingly unanswered questions about the characters and places in the Swallows and Amazons books Ransome wrote for an avid child readership. Christina Hardyment has delved further into the books themselves, visiting real places mentioned in the books, discovering the true identity of venues in the Lake District disguised with fictitious names by Ransome, and interviewing people Ransome's characters were modelled on, including the "Walker" family.
Hardyment's quest is a fascinating story in itself and anyone who, like me, was a Ransome addict in childhood (or even adulthood — Ransome started writing the books in his 405 . . . for himself!) can hardly fail to share her excitement as new clues come to light.