Nevil Shute

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Nevil Shute Norway in 1949

Nevil Shute Norway (January 17, 1899January 12, 1960) was, as Nevil Shute, one of the most popular novelists of the mid-20th century, as well as a successful aeronautical engineer.


  • Differential equations won't help you much in the design of aeroplanes — not yet, anyhow.
    • Rawdon, the aircraft designer, to Morris, his aspiring protege.
    • Stephen Morris, ch. 3, p. 41 (1923, published posthumously in 1961)
  • He was one of that great class of Englishmen who love their wives and trust them unquestioningly with their money and their honour, but are apt to hedge a little over their motor-cars.
    • Of Stephen Morris
    • Pilotage, ch. 5, p. 203
  • It has been said that an engineer is a man who can do for ten shillings what any fool can do for a pound; if that be so, we were certainly engineers.
    • Of the R100 engineers
    • Slide Rule, p. 66

No Highway (1948)[edit]

  • " People believe what they want to believe."
    • Ch 2 - p.46 [Page numbers per the Pan paperback, 1963 edition.]
  • Environment has its effect on everybody, and for a time it had a numbing effect on him, preventing him from thinking clearly.
    • Ch 3 - p.62
  • His agitation was subsiding; already he was becoming aware that he had not got it in him to make these men believe that what he said was true. He had had so much of this in the past; he was accustomed to being right and being disbelieved on vital issues. It was what happened to him; other people could put across their convictions and win credence, but he had never been able to do that. Now it was happening again.
    • Ch 3 - p.64
  • Airline stewardesses are not chosen for their repellent qualities, and Miss Corder was a very charming girl.
    • Ch 3 - p.68
  • For many years the actress had been out of touch with the hard realities of life. All her working life had been spent in the facile world of honky-tonk, of synthetic emotion and of phoney glamour. Now she was getting a glimpse into a new world, a world of hard, stark facts, a world in which things had to be exactly right or people would be killed. She was beginning to perceive that little insignificant men like Mr Honey were the brains behind that world.
    • Ch 7 - p.161
  • Personal unpleasantness always upset his work; he could not think clearly if his mind was full of hard things that had been said about him, and he liked thinking clearly. Rows frightened him; he would go to considerable lengths to avoid them.
    • Ch 7 - p.165
  • She recognised in Mr Honey a man of moods, capable of deep depression; all geniuses, she had read, were men like that.
    • Ch 7 - p.166
  • She said, "When you've seen all the new places you've got no more new places to see. And anyway, one new place is just like another new place. . . . I used to like meeting new people every trip - and I still do. But those things, meeting new people, seeing new places, they aren't everything. And while you go on in that sort of life you can't have any real friends or any real home. Because you're never there . . ."
    • Ch 7 - p.176
  • They sat by the lake for a couple of hours, talking, finding out about each other.
    • Ch 7 - p.177
  • "A wiser man than I once said that an unusual man is apt to look unusual. In my department we seek for original thinkers, for the untiring brain that pursues its object by day and by night. If the untiring brain refuses to leave its quest to attend to such matters as the neat arrangement of collar and tie or to removing food stains from its waistcoat, I do not greatly complain."
    • Ch 9 - p.205
  • "You can't go through life sitting on the fence. You've got to make decisions, and sometimes you're pretty sure to make them wrong."
    • Ch 9 - p.209
  • "If you're going to make your life in a new country you should go before you're twenty-five. After that you start to get associations, little grooves and anchors, that make it difficult to change."
    • Ch 9 - p.214
  • Whatever the little man showed him or explained, the designer did nothing but grunt. This was one of his more offensive techniques; he would stand in silence listening to a halting explanation and then grunt, a grunt expressing an ill-tempered scepticism or plain disbelief.
    • Ch 10 - p.238
  • Success did not thrill him in the least. He regarded a success merely as a convenient platform from which to plan a further advance.
    • Ch 12 - p.264
  • She did not understand what all that meant, but it was evidently something very near his heart, and so she said, "How splendid!"
    • Ch 12 - p.269
  • He was like a little boy let loose in a toy shop, uncertain which of the attractive treasures to pick up first.
    • Ch 12 - p.270
  • He was a dark-haired, fresh-faced boy of twenty-one or twenty-two, who adopted the pose that everything was a joke and nothing really mattered.
    • Ch 12 - p.272
  • All good designers are difficult men or they could not be good designers; I think everybody at the table was more or less aware of that. We set ourselves to mollify the great man, and I say that with sincerity. A great man he was, a great designer, and a superlative engineer. But not an easy man to deal with. No.
    • Ch 12 - p.279

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