There are number of well-known quotes from Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series of novels. Read our selection below and see how many you remember.


They found, like many explorers before them, that somehow, in their absence, they had got into trouble at home. – Swallowdale (Chapter 4), 1931

When a thing’s done, it’s done, and if it’s not done right, do it differently next time.  – Swallowdale (Chapter 8), 1931

“Only, the beastly Arctic won’t freeze,” – Winter Holiday (Chapter 3), 1933

Softly, at first, as if it hardly meant it, the snow began to fall. – Winter Holiday (Chapter 5), 1933

A pigeon a day keeps the natives away – Pigeon Post (Title page and Chapter 4), 1936

Grab a chance and you won’t be sorry for a might-have-been. – We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea (Title page and Chapter 2), 1937

“A lot of things were lucky,” said Daddy, and suddenly, while they were walking along, brought his hand down on John’s shoulder and gave it a bit of a squeeze. “You’ll be a seaman yet, my son.” And John, for one dreadful moment, felt that something was going wrong with his eyes. A sort of wetness, and hotness… Partly salt… Pleased though he was, he found himself biting his lower lip pretty hard, and looking the other way. – We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea (Chapter 23), 1937

She’s got a rum job, but she knows how to do it, and to have a job and know how to do it is one of the best things in this life. And if only she stops hankering after Cambridge… – Missee Lee (Chapter 26), 1941

Dorothea blew out her candle and settled down in the middle of the big spare room bed. An owl called in the woods. ‘Not a barn owl, but a tawny,’ thought Dick, listening to the sharp ‘Gewick! Gewick!’ as he fell asleep. A smell of new-mown hay drifted from the meadows on the further side of the river. ‘There isn’t a lovelier place in all the world,’ thought Dorothea. London last night, and now Beckfoot. The summer holidays had begun. – The Picts and the Martyrs (Chapter 2), 1943

What’s hit’s history: what’s missed’s mystery. – Great Northern? (Chapter 9), 1947

For these and more quotes from Arthur Ransome, see WikiQuotes.