Amazon was one of two boats purchased in 1928 by Dr EHR Altounyan, so that his children could learn to sail with the help of family friend Arthur Ransome, by then an established author and journalist, and cruising and small boat sailing enthusiast.
She later was the model for the boat Amazon featured in some of the Ransome’s popular children’s novels, beginning with Swallows and Amazons, which he wrote in 1929.
The Altounyan family children featured in the fictional stories under their own names, and one, Roger Altounyan, later invented the cromoglycate inhaler used to treat asthma – an achievement for which us asthmatics will be forever grateful.
In real life the sailing dinghy was named Mavis, and was renamed Amazon in 1990 by Aruthur Ransome Society president Mrs Brigit Sanders, who appeared in the books as the character ‘the Ship’s Baby’.
Amazon still belongs to the Altounyan family, but is on long-term loan to the Ruskin Museum at Coniston and is on show.
Amazon is not varnished as described in Ransome’s famous books, but was probably painted from the beginning – it’s said that she probably looks today very much as she did when Ransome knew her.
Ransome himself remains a complex and intriguing character – as his Wikipedia entry shows.