View Full Version : Arthur Ransome fans

11-07-2002, 09:56 PM
I've heard that as a reporter for the Manchester Guardian, AR sent columns from Moscow detailing the doings of the inner circle of the communist government, which were promptly rewritten by the UK athorities and published. Are the original AR columns extant?

11-08-2002, 06:08 AM
Speaking of which Hugh, I'm just now reading RACUNDRA'S THIRD CRUISE, a new book.

11-08-2002, 08:10 AM
AR was, indeed, the Russia correspondent of the Manchester Guardian. He had taken up the post before the outbreak of WW1, mainly to get away from his wife (his first marriage was a catastrophe) and to get out of England after a disastrous libel case brought against him by Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover of Oscar Wilde. He was attracted by Russian folk tales, and set out to record them.

As it happened, one of his closest friends in Russia was Karl Radek, one of the leading Bolsheviks, so, when they rose to power, he was the only foreign correspondent with access to their inner circle.

He fell in love with Trotsky's secretary, who eventually, after the long and difficult divorce processes needed in those days, became the second Mrs Ransome. The need to stay out of England until they could marry and he could bring her home accounts for his continued stay in Russia and Latvia, and hence for Racundra's cruises.

Politically, frankly nobody knows what Ransome's views were. There is dispute as to whether he was a British spy or not. He was certainly a personal friend of several of the Bolshevik leaders, and was un-keen on British intervention on the side of the Whites. He was kept under surveillance by Scotland yard during a visit to Britain.

One piece of cold courage is to his credit - he had returned to Britain and had to get back to Moscow, at a time when Britain was at war with Soviet Russia. He came up to the front line on the White side and proceeded to walk across No Man's Land, smoking a pipe and carrying a briefcase, so as to look un-warlike, in the knowledge that he would certainly be arrested as a spy when he got to the Soviet trenches - he was, but he persuaded the commanding officer not to shoot him before checking with Moscow!

Probably, the stresses involved in living in a situation where both sides saw him as a dangerous spy undermined his health.

Othersmay be able to add to and correct this.

11-08-2002, 09:03 PM
Thad - I haven't read that one. Publisher/Date? I am reading Peter Duck to my 6-year old, working my way through the series again smile.gif

ACB - Thanks, that is a great story! Hard to imagine someone pulling that off these days! :eek: