An introduction to the Adventure Series

The eight books in the Adventure Series are about the Mannering/ Trent/ Cunningham/ Smugs children (not as confusing as it sounds – honest) and the thrilling adventures they tumble headlong into at every opportunity.

This lot are a bit more globe-trotting than the Famous Five – they only have one adventure in England! They have one in the mountains of Wales, one in the remote Scottish islands and one elsewhere in Scotland. They also manage to get into trouble in some European countries – Austria and Tauri-Hessia (that’s a made-up one I’m afraid), as well as in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Their adventures also tend to be a little more hair-raising and dangerous as they deal with gun smugglers, forgers, Nazis and mad scientists as well as the more usual traitors and thieves.


The Island of Adventure
The Castle of Adventure
The Valley of Adventure
The Sea of Adventure
The Mountain of Adventure
The Ship of Adventure
The Circus of Adventure
The River of Adventure

Before we get to the adventures, though, I’ll explain who the characters are (and why there are so many names given to a single group!) There may be some spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read all the books as there’s a fair bit of character/family development in the series and I will be talking about that. The biggest spoiler is marked though, so you can try to avoid it!


Philip Mannering is 13, and his sister Dinah is 12. They live with their Aunt Polly and Uncle Jocelyn in a huge tumble-down house called Craggy-Tops right on the coast. Their mother, Mrs Mannering, works in the city to earn enough money to support them. Philip and Dinah have the same dark hair with a tuft at the front and Philip is nicknamed Tufty by Jack. Philip has a love of animals and almost always has some sort of ‘pet’ secreted about his person or faithfully following at his heels. This is a bone of contention between the two Mannering siblings as Dinah is terrified of most small creatures, especially those with lots of legs, no legs at all, long tails, sharp teeth, furry bodies, scaly skin… Dinah also has a cracking temper and quarrels with Philip regularly – even coming to blows with him on several occasions. Thankfully her tempers don’t last long and the two forgive each other fairly quickly. She’s described in the books as a “strapping, confident girl, well able to hold her own” and who “stood no nonsense from anyone.”

Jack Trent is 14 and his sister Lucy-Ann is 11. They live with their uncle Geoffrey as their parents were killed in a plane crash. The Trents are very alike with freckled skin and red hair, and Philip immediately dubs Jack ‘Freckles’. Jack’s passion is ornithology and he spends all his time poring over bird books and watching birds outside. Lucy-Ann is quite content to sit quietly with Jack as she adores him – in fact she follows him about everywhere. Jack is very fond of Lucy-Ann and happily puts up with her constant presence at his side. Lucy-Ann is quite a timid, shy girl, but she can overcome that during adventures.

Jack has a pet parrot called Kiki who can be considered a character in her own right as she is a very intelligent and talkative bird with an enormous repertoire of amazing noises. She goes everywhere with Jack and joins in all the children’s conversations.

Kiki the parrot of the Adventure Series, drawn by Stuart Tresilian

Kiki the parrot


Alison Mannering is a widow who works very hard running an art agency in the city to earn enough money to send her children to boarding school and pay for their keep in the holidays. Philip says she’s a very good business woman, but is saddened by how tired she seems when she visits Dinah and him. In the second book it’s said she worked so hard that she had no time to make a home for them.

By the end of the first book she has enough money to give up her city job and make a home for Philip and Dinah. At this point she also takes in Jack and Lucy-Ann who call her ‘Aunt Allie’. Mrs Mannering hates the adventures the children get into and they leave her sick with fright. She is often cross with Bill for allowing the children to fall into danger, yet grateful to him for getting them out safely.

Bill Cunningham is a secret agent the children meet in their first adventure, though he’s going by the name of Smugs then. Bill gets caught up in (or causes) the children’s next seven adventures too and grows close to Mrs Mannering/Aunt Allie. Blyton said in her autobiography The Story of My Life that Bill is based on a man she met holidaying in Swanage.


Half-way through the series Bill and Allie get married and Bill becomes an official father to the children.

***End spoilers***

I hope that explains the Mannering/Trent/Cunningham/Smugs clan!

Here’s my first review – The Island of Adventure

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9 Responses to An introduction to the Adventure Series

  1. Sandra Keeley says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, thanks. I’ve been pondering for ages whether to buy this series of Blyton books and this has given me a good insight, so I’ll probably invest in the collection very soon! Cheers!


  2. Gerry Francis Kelly says:

    What a cracking introduction, Fiona to one of my all time favourite series of books. It is a combination of adventure and longing to be a family group – particularly by Lucy-Ann. There is an underlying romance going on between the two adults which is out-of-sight of the children and us the readers.
    Well done!


  3. Enjoyed reading that introduction thanks Fiona. I remember these books although it’s probably nearly 40 years since I last read them. They are fantastic books and I may just have to read them again soon.


  4. Pete says:

    Great Intro!
    I’ve just bought a mixed bundle of Enid Blyton books that included four of the original Adventure hardbacks and two of the Thames reprints.I only need Circus & Island to complete my complete hardback collection now.
    The print and quality of the original hard backed editions is simply superb.So well laid out and easy to read….and oh,what beautiful illustrations these books contain.


  5. Dale Vincero says:

    Just reading Island of Adventure now. I remember reading Famous Five when I was about 14 and wondering if I would still be interested in them when I was about 25. Must be so, as I am still reading them. Age now 65.


  6. Dale Vincero says:

    Ref Bill & Allie soon to be married; Even as a 14 year old, I always thought it was a bit tame – the way Bill says “Well what do you think?”, and Allie says ok to the marriage “proposal”. This was at the end of Ship of Adventure I think it was (which book doesn’t matter anyway). Yeah I’d like to have seen a bit more dialogue & more social activity between them prior to the big announcement. I think even kids in the sixties knew enough to expect that there would be more than a few exchanged sentences before something as important as this.


  7. This series really represents the pinnacle of achievement in EB’s series, in my opinion. One contributory factor is that it is a shorter series than Secret Seven, Famous Five and Find-Outers, all of which seem to tail-off rather (particularly Find-Outers, where “Banshee Towers” seems to reach an all-time low!) However, it is longer than the Secret and Barney series which also have a few low points, so this is not the only reason. Somehow, all eight books in this series are excellent – there will always be a few niggles, but these are relatively minor. The baddies are more varied – and more evil – than in other series, the plots are far more varied (even the treasure in these stories have very plausible explanations for their locations and far more interesting build-ups to their recovery. There is never a dull moment in the action in any of these books.

    A wonderful summary as always, Fiona!


  8. Jeremy weber says:

    No-one would need to introduce me to the “Adventure” series — I still know of very few fiction books that start of in such an immediately gripping manner as “The Island”, after seventy-five largely mis-spent years. I encountered “The Valley” in 1951 and couldn’t wait to get the two previous stories.


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