Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Famous Five Revisited.

Hello, I hope you had a very nice Easter.

No adventures for me over the Easter hols. No real ones anyway, but I have been having rather a wizard time reading these old Famous Fives I picked up at an op-shop for twenty cents a pop.
I guess you could say as far as adventure's concerned, I've been living vicariously through Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy.

And while the antics of those wild and crazy kids failed to capture my imagination with the same page turning fervour as they did when I was ten, all that talk of ginger beer, potted meat, jam tarts and ginger cake certainly tested my resolve to drink green juice. Chocolate eggs? pass. "Melt-in-the-mouth shortbread"? YES please! 

Blyton even makes boiled eggs sound delicious - and I hate boiled eggs! Always lashings of them, bought from a friendly farmer's wife, and served with a "screw of salt".

Enid's marvelous descriptions of food and picnics more than make up for her lack-lustre titles.

Anyway, this time round it was Eileen Soper's gorgeous illustrations that caught my eye.  I thought you might like to see them too...

The end papers in Five Go Off In A Caravan (first published in 1946, my op-shopped copy, 1952) are particularly lovely. 
It's that eau de nil green mostly I think...

p.s. love the title of this one!

as is the 'colour plate'

"Merran Lake - they decided to have a picnic by the lake."

Here are the end papers from:

Five Have A Wonderful Time (first published 1952, my copy 1952!)

Five On A Treasure Island

This was the first of the "Fives" books, published in 1942. My copy is a spring chicken, published in 1975.

Five Go Off To Camp

first published 1948, my copy 1975.

Five Run Away Together

first published 1944, mine 1975.

and Five Get Into Trouble

first published 1949, my copy published (and given to Tania with love from Mum, Dad, Donna, and Nicky) in 1975.

Btw, there are twenty one Famous Five books in total. Written between 1942 and 1962.

To end, here is the dreamy cover pic of my 1975 copy of Five On A Treasure Island

good old Timmy!

You might like to check these contemporary covers designed to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Famous Five last year. Oliver Jeffers' cover for Five Go To Smugglers Top is my fave.

Were you a "Fiver" or did you prefer the Secret Seven?
Maybe you've never heard of them, and aren't really interested either...I know my own kids would be bored stiff!



  1. Reading her books would always make me hungry for fruit cake and orangeade and tins of biscuits,what the??? Love your old copies,still have my newer copies from the 70's.Five run away together was my favourite,too funny.Ps your hot cross buns look awesome!

  2. *Sigh...Loved reliving all those with the gorgeous pictures. I was a 5, a 7, a Far Away Tree, Noddy, the whole lot. You have reminded me anew those wonderful delicious descriptions. She really knew exactly what kids wanted to read and how to spark the imagination. Probably not so much now for modern kids I guess.

  3. For some reason we found it easier to read these than our offspring might. Perhaps we had more exposure to British language via the ABC etc than they do now. You prompted vivid memories of Enid food. It was always wrapped in paper wasn't it? Going off in a caravan could mean many different things to different folk. I prefer the having-a-huge-exciting-party-in-a-caravan version!

  4. I was a Blyton fan and read them all, Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Faraway Tree and Malory Towers. Apparently my Nan was rather sniffy about Enid Blyton and thought I should be reading classics such as Wind in the Willows but Mum thought any reading was good no matter what it was. Don't forget we had no daytime telly then but my niece (now thirteen) also read lots of her when she was younger.
    Wonderful illustrations and how lovely that the books travelled from New Malden (less than an hour from here) to Oz. I like to think they went with £10 Poms.

  5. Oh these are fabulous...I read both and have a small collection of originals now...so hard to come by really. i was tempted to do the unspeakable and but the boxed set of reprints that Big W have at the moment just so we had a complete reading set of each...i have refrained....for now.
    Enjoy reading. xxx

  6. Famous five were my absolute have books, I very much related to George I think as I was a real tomboy. Never did secret seven, no idea why not. Reading the mysteries trilogy to Roboboy at the moment at bedtime, never discovered these before either, they have been re released as a three book combo. He loves Enid Blyton especially since I freaked him off Roald Dahl by starting James and the Giant peach. After the first page where both the parents die he stopped me reading and reverted to little golden books for a while! mel x

  7. I loved enid blyton at all ages, tales if the faraway tree through to claudine at st clares! I have heard talk of using enid blyton books for kids younger than they were intended to extend reading skills whilst avoiding more grown up themes in modern kids literature which i like. Beautiful illustrations, especially the boat one x

  8. Oh, these illustrations are sooo beautiful!!! Sadly, I'm not familiar with those in my part of the world, but I recognize the aesthetis and themes of those stories from my own children's books. And yes, my kids ARE bored stiff whenever I try to convince them to read a line or two:-) I guess we just have to admit that times have changed and just stick to our own memories of those great books. Great post, touching actually:-)

  9. I loved Enid Blyton books. I wish I had a bigger house and I would collect them, but you know...cant collect everything (so Mr D says anyways)

  10. Happy Easter! Wonderful books / images - thanks for sharing.

    I have a wedding on Saturday - may wear the dress!

  11. I collected famous five books and I think I had nearly if not all of them at one time. Didn't read them all though! I love seeing the inscriptions inside books, makes you wonder about the people mentioned doesn't it?

  12. We read them all, me and my sisters. Just loved Enid Blyton. I have all our St Clares and Mallory Towers books here now after clearing my Mum's house out recently. But not with the beautiful end pages that you have. Glad you had a spiffing time with them over the Easter break old bean! xxx

  13. I was OBSESSED with The Famous Five AND The Secret Seven! Obsessed with Enid Blyton in general, really.
    Being an only child, living in rural New South Wales, made it tricky to play Famous Five type games, though. Not even the Comedy Strip can sully my Famous Five fantasies!!!
    And, I loved St Clares and Mallory Towers as well!

  14. I used to watch Famous Five on the ABC. I was always a little confused by George's androgyny. My kids haven't really shown an interest but I heard the latest reprints are going cheap at Australia Post.

    I'd love to see Five Go-Off in a caravan.

  15. Ha! I was a Trixie Belden girl... xx

    1. I loved Trixie Belden too. I tried calling my mother 'Mumsie' once (just like Trixie did) and my mother was none too impressed!!

  16. Oh I was a "Famous Five" girl, ahhh such memories!!!! I just love the illustration of them in the boat with Timmy. Thank you for a lovely post, I am sitting in bed unwell and it's raining out side.
    Love V

  17. I was into Trixie Belden and Sweet Valley High, although was given a many enid blyton by a well meaning aunt who would tsk tsk at me reading sweet valleys....so risqué!. I only found out recently that mum donated all my childhood books years ago....she kept telling me they were boxed up somewhere, too scared to tell me the truth (I may have tsk tsk`d her a little!!) x

  18. i used to watch the tv show, but now i feel like getting stuck into the books!yoyr copies ate beautiful xx

  19. I collected Enid Blyton books - pretty sure Mum has every Famous Five but then her father collected them too so we had a good head-start! I should check because Granddad was born in 1911 so he probably had some VERY early editions.

    There were a few Enid Blyton's in the reading corner while I was on prac and they always got a good run with the kids during silent reading so I don't think they are totally irrelevant... if that was the case, they probably would have been considered irrelevant when I was reading them in the 90s too :)

  20. These old books are magical aren't they Kylie, I especially love Five Go Off In A Caravan. I haven't seen it before. I loved Secret Seven, the descriptions of the picnics always intrigued me too, everything is better served in lashings!

  21. PS. When Ry gets in a grumpy mood I call him Uncle Quentin haha

  22. I was definitely a Fiver! Loved that series. The illustrations are gorgeous!

  23. I was a Famous Five gal, never got into the Secret Seven at all. Those Eileen Soper illustrations take me right back, they were the editions I read as a child.
    My eldest read a few of them, but wasn't taken with any other Enid Blyton books. I can understand it, they must seem terribly old fashioned - well, they were when I read them too! I remember liking the schools series (Mallory Towers and St Clare's) and The Five Find-Outers Mystery books as well. xxxx

  24. not for wanting to rain on your parade at all, but here's an interesting note on la enid. ;)))
    i strongly recommend a viewing, however. bonham-carter is marvellous.
    by the way, i was a five reader, amongst other trivia, and before literature, but i loved every sec of it!

  25. Yep loved them then, love the illustrations and colour palate still! Tried so hard to inflict on my kids but with limited success. Thanks for sharing, sigh, if only I could transport myself there some days...

  26. Oh I LOVE Enid Blyton and adore these vintage copies. I never appreciated them as a child but during a hospital admission with my big girl we read the Magic Faraway Tree series and loved them. Fond memories ...

  27. PS just asked the expert and she assures me the Seven rock because 'their methods seem more real' ;)

  28. I was a huge Five and Seven fan as a kid, I only wish mum had kept all the books from my childhood.

  29. I LOVED the Famous Five! Especially the TV show. I bought 4 FF books last year - with the red covers (no dustcovers). They are 1951-1952...
    Five Go Off in a Caravan (I gave it to Lea cos of the title)
    Five Go to Smugglers Top
    Five Have Plenty of Fun
    Five Go on a Hike Together

  30. Loooooved reading these when I was young... always got hungry though (surprise surprise) and I'd steal into the kitchen for a snack whilst reading... Mine were given away though .. sob... WELL DONE ON THE JUICING! I FEEL GREAT!