by John Masefield
COVER ILLUSTRATION BY
First published by William Heinemann 1938
Published in Puffin Books 1974
My edition 1974
‘My life has been in three scenes, one of great happiness, one of horror, terror, shame and disgrace beyond all telling, and then, one, a long one, of an interest, a steady joy and peace for which no words of mine sufﬁce.' This is how Ned Mansell sums up his own history, Dead Ned is his account of its ﬁrst two scenes.
Set in the eighteenth century, the story begins in Ned’s happy childhood, when he looks forward to a busy, useful life following in his father's footsteps as a doctor. But after his mother dies and his father has married again, a crop of new, malevolent inﬂuences enter Ned’s life. His indolent, snobbish stepmother, her sinister servant, Henery, and her wastrel son, Dennis, all hate and distrust Ned - and the feeling is mutual. Ned ﬁnds one strong ally in crusty but warm-hearted Admiral Cringle, from whom Ned hears tales of adventure at sea and in far-away countries which are to have a bearing on his own future. But then disaster overtakes the Admiral when his house is raided, and Ned is helplessly caught up in the tragedy, accused of a crime he never committed.
This is a rich book with a lot to offer. It’s a gripping suspense story, in which not a word is wasted as it gradually builds up to its climax. And in spite of the atmosphere of doom which hangs over it from the start, it’s full of a zest for life and the excitement of new experiences — and it ends with a beginning . . . .
The sequel, Live and Kicking Ned, will be available in Puffins Shortly, also for readers of eleven and over.
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