Trustee from the Toolroom is a novel written by Nevil Shute. Shute died in January 1960; Trustee was published posthumously later that year.
The plot of the novel hinges on the actions of a modest technical journalist, Keith Stewart, whose life has been focused on the design and engineering of small and scale-model precision machinery. Stewart writes serial articles about how to build miniature machines in a magazine called the Miniature Mechanic, which are extremely well regarded in the modelling community — as is he.
Keith's sister had married a wealthy naval officer, recently retired from service at the opening of the story. The couple plan a long pleasure cruise in their small yacht before settling in British Columbia, meanwhile leaving their 10-year-old daughter with Keith and his wife. Before leaving, they ask Keith for assistance in hiding a jewelry box in the yacht's concrete ballast. When the couple are killed in a shipwreck in French Polynesia, Keith becomes the permanent guardian and trustee of his niece (hence the title). But, the solicitor handling the estate finds that the money has disappeared; the evidence suggests that Keith's brother-in-law converted his wealth into diamonds to take with him abroad in order to evade export and currency restrictions intended to prevent capital leaving Britain.
Keith infers that the metal box he secreted contained the diamonds, and he starts to investigate how he may retrieve them from the wreck. It is a difficult problem. Keith, while not poor, has chosen to do work he loves in place of better-paying work, and cannot afford to travel to Polynesia. He is able to call on connections in the model engineering world to deadhead his way on a flight as far as Hawaii. Finding no conventional way to get further which is within his means, he takes passage on the hand-built sailing ship of an illiterate half-Polynesian from Oregon, Jack Donelly.
One of the aircrew who took Keith to Hawaii worriedly approaches Keith's editor on his return to England. The editor, somewhat shocked at the risks that Keith is taking, starts trawling the close-knit world of miniature mechanics for someone who could help Keith. Eventually, Mr. Solomon Hirzhorn, who runs a vast timber business near Tacoma, Washington, is informed. Hirzhorn, an inexperienced modeller, has sent lengthy letters asking for elementary clarifications of Keith's modelling articles, which Keith always patiently answered. Hirzhorn is currently building one of Keith's designs, a Congreve clock, and jumps at the chance to help him in return. Hirzhorn arranges for the yacht of a business associate, Chuck Ferris, to proceed to Tahiti to help Keith out. Coincidentally, Keith and Jack had already consulted the yacht's captain for navigation advice in Honolulu.
Keith and Jack arrive safely in Tahiti but are in danger of being thrown into jail due to not having proper ship's papers. The yacht captain smooths over the situation, and brings Keith to the island where the wreck is located. There he meditates on the fate that has brought him so far, takes many pictures, erects a headstone, and salvages the yacht's engine, which he arranges to ship back to Britain to sell.
After an amusing incident where Ferris's much-married daughter, Dawn, runs off with Jack Donelly, the yacht proceeds to Washington State. Keith spends several days visiting Hirzhorn, helping him with his model. After Keith catches an engineering error in the contract between Hirzhorn's company and Ferris's that might have cost a couple of million dollars, Hirzhorn arranges for a large consultancy fee to be paid by Ferris's company and has his own company pay Stewart's airfare home.
The consultancy fee enables Keith's wife to stop working and take care of their niece. The diamonds are "discovered" by Keith in the oil in the engine's sump soon after it arrives, and proceeds from their sale enable them to take care of their niece's education and other needs. The other characters proceed on their lives happily, we are told at the end of what is probably Shute's most villain-free novel.
The book is well loved by tool lovers, especially engineers and model engineers, for its reverent treatment of machinery, tools, and craftsmanship. The fictional magazine Miniature Mechanic is based on the actual British magazine, Model Engineer , and Shute himself admitted that the novel's protagonist is inspired by an author of that magazine, Edgar T. Westbury.The novel's plot is not especially complex, nor is the novel's mystery terribly well hidden: the tension and drama of the story are generated by suspecting the outcome but not knowing how it will be achieved.
Two contrasts are regularly apparent throughout the book. The first is between the seriousness with which the craft of model engineering is treated by its practitioners, and the physical scale of operations (which in today's language might be dismissed as "boys' toys"). Naturally, only the non-technical characters find this contrast amusing, since to an engineer the ultimate seriousness is that what he designs works, and Shute was a professional engineer. The other contrast is between Keith Stewart's generally low estimation of his own abilities and the high esteem in which he is held by engineers worldwide. "Not the Keith Stewart?" is the amusing recurrent response when one engineer introduces him to another on his journey. "A very competent student of engineering matters" is how Shute the neutral narrator describes him, "though he would have been amazed to hear himself described in those terms."
The novel represents a more liberal view of sexual conduct than we see in Shute's earlier books. The affair between Donelly and Dawn Ferris is accepted with amusement or resignation by most of the characters. In earlier books, such as A Town Like Alice , premarital sex was deprecated.
Several of the novel's characters come from groups subject to prejudice. The Hirzhorn family is Jewish, as is the diamond merchant Elias Franck. Jack Donelly is a 'coloured' American who is also illiterate and mentally 'deficient', although a talented boat-builder and sailor. The hero, Keith Stewart, is a 'working class' mechanic, although an extremely talented one. All four characters are portrayed in a positive light.
Trustee from the Toolroom was voted #27 on the Modern Library Readers' list of the top 100 novels. The top ten in that poll included four works by Ayn Rand and three by L. Ron Hubbard and according to David Ebershoff, Modern Library's publishing director, "the voting population [was] skewed."
Shute describes Keith Stewart and his wife as living in the very house in South Ealing, London, where Shute himself was born and brought up. There is a faithful description of the property and of the modest way of life that went on there.
Nevil Shute Norway was an English novelist and aeronautical engineer who spent his later years in Australia. He used his full name in his engineering career and Nevil Shute as his pen name to protect his engineering career from inferences by his employers (Vickers) or fellow engineers that he was not a serious person or from potential negative publicity in connection with his novels, which included On the Beach and A Town Like Alice.
On the Beach is a 1957 post-apocalyptic novel written by British author Nevil Shute after he migrated to Australia. The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of deadly radiation spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere, following a nuclear war a year previously. As the radiation approaches, each person deals with impending death differently.
A Town Like Alice is a romance novel by Nevil Shute, published in 1950 when Shute had newly settled in Australia. Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman, becomes romantically interested in a fellow prisoner of World War II in Malaya, and after liberation emigrates to Australia to be with him, where she attempts, by investing her substantial financial inheritance, to generate economic prosperity in a small outback community—to turn it into "a town like Alice" i.e. Alice Springs.
No Highway is a 1948 novel by Nevil Shute. It formed the basis of the 1951 film No Highway in the Sky.
Sir Alan John Cobham, KBE, AFC was an English aviation pioneer.
Slide Rule: Autobiography of an Engineer is the partial autobiography of the British novelist Nevil Shute. It was first published in 1954. Slide Rule concentrates on Nevil Shute's work in aviation, ending in 1938 when he left the industry.
Pied Piper is a novel by Nevil Shute, first published in 1942. The title is a reference to the traditional German folk tale, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin".
No Highway in the Sky is a 1951 British black-and-white aviation film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Louis D. Lighton, directed by Henry Koster, that stars James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Glynis Johns, Niall MacGinnis, Janette Scott and Jack Hawkins. The screenplay was written by Oscar Millard, with additional material provided by Alec Coppel.
What Happened to the Corbetts is a novel by Nevil Shute, a fictional depiction of the effect of aerial bombing on the British city of Southampton, a major maritime centre. It was written in 1938, and published in April 1939 by William Heinemann Ltd, when the outbreak of World War II was already a very likely development.
The Far Country is a novel by Nevil Shute, first published in 1952.
This is a list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1960s, as determined by Publishers Weekly. The list features the most popular novels of each year from 1960 through 1969.
Round the Bend is a 1951 novel by Nevil Shute. It tells the story of Constantine "Connie" Shaklin, an aircraft engineer who founds a new religion transcending existing religions based on the merit of good work. It deals with racism, including the White Australia policy, and also with the importance of private enterprise. It was one of the first novels Shute wrote after emigrating from Britain to Australia in 1950.
Ruined City is a 1938 novel by Nevil Shute, published by Cassell in the UK. In the US, the book was published by William Morrow under the title Kindling.
Marazan is the first published novel by the British author Nevil Shute. It was originally published in 1926 by Cassell & Co, then republished in 1951 by William Heinemann. The events of the novel occur, in part, around the Isles of Scilly.
So Disdained is the second published novel by British author, Nevil Shute. It was first published in 1928 by Cassell & Co., reissued in 1951 by William Heinemann, and issued in paperback by Pan Books in 1966. In the United States it was first published in 1928 by Houghton Mifflin in Boston, with the title The Mysterious Aviator.
On the Beach is a 1959 American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama film from United Artists, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, that stars Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins. This black-and-white film is based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel of the same name depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war. Unlike in the novel, no one is assigned blame for starting the war; the film hints that global annihilation may have arisen from an accident or misjudgment.
Herbert James "Ringer" Edwards was an Australian soldier during World War II. As a prisoner of war (POW), he survived being crucified for 63 hours by Japanese soldiers on the Burma Railway. Edwards was the basis for the character "Joe Harman" in Nevil Shute's novel A Town Like Alice. The book was the basis for a film and a television miniseries (1981).
Edgar T. Westbury was perhaps best known as a major contributor to the English recreational magazine Model Engineer. He contributed under his own name, and also under the pseudonyms 'Artificer', 'Ned', 'Kinemette' and Exactus. Beginning in 1925 until his death in 1970, he made over 1474 authored contributions to Model Engineer under his real name. As Artificer, he wrote a further 135 articles from 1936 to 1970, on a range of topics including basic workshop skills and techniques, and construction of a light vertical milling machine. Ned was the nom-de-plume for writing about workshop equipment, under which he wrote about 159 articles. As Kinemette came a further 67 contributions from 1936 to 1959, on making optical equipment including slide and film projectors, and enlargers. These articles can be looked up via the Model Engineer Index (download), or online at Model Engineer Magazine - Database and Index of Published Articles.
Stephen Morris and Pilotage are two short novels by Nevil Shute; the first novels he wrote after writing poetry and short stories. Stephen Morris was finished in 1923 while Shute was working at Stag Lane for de Havilland, and Pilotage was written in 1924. Unpublished during his lifetime, but published by his estate in one volume as many of the characters are common to both novels. They are set in the budding post-war aviation industry in Britain, and also on yachts (Pilotage).
Georgina Norway, was a British writer of children's adventure fiction.