Nevil Shute

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Nevil Shute Norway (17 January 1899 – 12 January 1960) was a popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer. He used Nevil Shute as his pen name, and his full name in his engineering career, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels [1].

Contents

Background

Born in Somerset Road, Ealing, London, he was educated at the Dragon School, Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford. Shute's father, Arthur Hamilton Norway, became head of the post office in Ireland before the First World War, and was based at the main post office in Dublin in 1916, at the time of the Easter Rising. Nevil was later commended for his role as a stretcher bearer during the rising. Shute attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich but because of his stammer was unable to take up a commission in the Royal Flying Corps, instead serving in World War I as a soldier in the Suffolk Regiment. An aeronautical engineer as well as a pilot, he began his engineering career with de Havilland Aircraft Company but, dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities for advancement, took a position in 1924 with Vickers Ltd., where he was involved with the development of airships. Shute worked as Chief Calculator (stress engineer) on the R100 airship project for the subsidiary Airship Guarantee Company. In 1929, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer of the R100 project under Sir Barnes Wallis.

The R100 was a prototype for passenger-carrying airships that would serve the needs of Britain's empire. The government-funded but privately-developed R100 was a modest success but the fatal 1930 crash of its government-developed counterpart R101 ended Britain's interest in airships. The R100 was grounded and scrapped. Shute gives a detailed account of the episode in his 1954 autobiographical work, Slide Rule. He left Vickers shortly afterwards and in 1931 founded the aircraft construction company Airspeed Ltd.

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