Nevil Shute (shewt) was born Nevil Shute Norway in Ealing, Middlesex, England, the second and only surviving child of Arthur Hamilton Norway, a civil servant working for the post office, and the former Mary Louisa Gadsden. Shute spent a few miserable early years at Hammersmith School, but after a period of truancy was sent to Lynam’s School in Oxford. Shute recalled this time as a happy introduction to Oxford, where he eventually returned to Balliol College as a mathematics student, graduating in 1922. During the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, in April, 1916, Shute served as a volunteer stretcher-bearer and later entered the Royal Flying Corps. He was discharged because of a stammer he developed during early childhood.
In 1922 Shute joined the de Havilland Aircraft Company as an aeronautical engineer. He was deputy chief on the rigid airship project, building the R100, one of the last of the British airships. During the next six years, Shute worked as a deputy chief engineer during the day and in the evenings wrote his first novels, of which two were published: Marazan in 1926 and The Mysterious Aviator (also known as So Disdained) in 1928. At this time, he wrote two other novels, Stephen Morris and Pilotage, which were posthumously published in one volume entitled Stephen Morris in 1961.
In 1930, after the crash of the government-built R101 virtually ended the aircraft industry in England, Shute founded his own company, Airspeed, Ltd., which designed and manufactured airplanes. From 1930 to 1938, Airspeed, Ltd. produced a number of small recreational and commercial airplanes, immersing Shute daily in intense aeronautical design and...
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