Nevil Shute

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Nevil Shute (pseudonym of Nevil Shute Norway) (1899-1990) is best known as a popular novelist; he was also an aviation engineer (who worked on the design of the airship R100 as deputy to Barnes Wallis) and business executive, themes which figure in many of his books.

He wrote over twenty novels, notably A Town Like Alice,[1] The Trustee from the Toolroom, The Chequer Board, and On the Beach.

His novels often feature ordinary people upon whose shoulders falls a task, burden, or quest. In an understated way, capitalism and private enterprise are depicted as sources of moral good. For example, the framing story of A Town Like Alice describes how a woman uses a small legacy to start a small but growing business which helps to transform a dingy, depressing town into a town like Alice Springs.

Perhaps the most famous of his books is On the Beach, which he wrote while approaching the end of his life. It describes a future in which nuclear war in the northern hemisphere creates radioactive fallout which spreads southward, inevitably extinguishing all human life, and follows the lives of Australians as they react to the certain foreknowledge of their own death.

Notes and references

  1. published in the U. S. as The Legacy