First Term at Malory Towers – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 4

Here we go again, comparing an early edition (1948) to a more recent paperback (2000). There is some fall-out from the slapping/shaking incident in the last chapter so a fair number of changes to look at. A reminder of earlier parts, one, two and three.


The paperback continues to alter the text to reflect the fact that Darrell just pushed/shook Gwendoline instead of slapping her.

Originally Gwendoline goes up to her dormy to get some cold cream for her red-streaked legs, and this is changed to her going to get a clean hanky for her tears. In following the earlier alterations this makes a certain amount of sense.

It’s then said that they didn’t need cold cream of course, which becomes simply, she didn’t need one of course, and in both editions this is followed by but she meant to make as much fuss as she could. I’m not sure how much sense that makes in the second version. Applying cold-cream implies making a fuss, if any of the other girls saw, but picking up a hanky especially if she isn’t crying doesn’t so much.

When Katharine and the girls are talking about the incident she remarks that she heard those slaps right at the other end of the pool. This becomes squeals instead, which still works to a certain extent, though as they are talking about being unable to tolerate Darrell’s behaviour, the loudness and presumably strength of the slaps is more pertinent I think than the sound they elicited from a girl we know to over-react to things.

This chapter the editor seems to have forgotten that Darrell shook Gwendoline instead of slapping her as most of the references talk about how Darrell scolded her. That doesn’t make sense on two levels, one, she shook her which is different and two it means many references become out of proportion.

Katherine orignally tells Darrell to imagine what the school would be like if we could all lose our tempers and go about slapping people when we felt like it. This becomes go about scolding people. Now, I’m not saying it would be good if all the girls went around shouting the odds but her comment rather loses something when she says scolding. It would have more sense to say shaking really.

Then Gwendoline decided to write to her mother about being slapped by that beast of a Darrell. That seems like a reasonable reaction from Gwendoline at least, but in the paperback she decided to write about being scolded. I don’t think Gwen, who we are then told loathes writing home, would bother going to that much effort over a simple scolding. Again, a shaking would have made more sense, and there are other references to this letter of Gwendoline’s when she tells the other girls she’s writing to tell about how Darrell slapped me, and again this is altered to scolded me, and Katharine mentions she will write to Mrs Lacey to tell her what led up to the slapping, which also becomes scolding.

Likewise the girls all think it served Gwendoline right to get a slapping, or scolding in the paperback.

On to other topics for alteration now. One I cannot understand, when Mary-Lou thinks that Darrell could never really like a stupid person like Mary-Lou this is changed to a cowardly person. Yet characters are called stupid out loud at other points in this and other chapters.

And finally, going against the trend, common room earns itself a hyphen and becomes common-room.


We’re back to the issue of slapping again here, only this time when Darrell says I only slapped Gwendoline hard it is altered to shook Gwendoline. Seems odd considering the previous chapter was so adamant about referring to it as a scolding!

We can’t even attribute it to different characters’ views on the incident as Gwendoline is then said to have never in her life been slapped, and how not even her mother had slapped her. These have both been updated to shaken. Also changed is the line the four or five slaps she had received which becomes the shaking.

And then we go back to scoldings, as it is said that it would have been much better for… Gwendoline if a few smacks had come her way when she was small, or indeed if she had been scolded more.

There are only a couple of other changes, a few in relation to furniture oddly enough. Mary-Lou is said to have tidied the drawers in [Darrell’s] dressing-table, and this becomes desk instead. Dressing-table to me, makes it clear we are talking about the one in her dormitory whereas desk makes it sound like she’s gone down to the classroom to do it. This same dressing-table then becomes simply table on two occasions later when it’s mentioned Mary-Lou puts flowers on it, further implying the desk and table are different items.

The last has the Pool changed to the pool, which I really agree with (especially as the original is a bit inconsistent with capitalising pool). Oddly though, throughout both copies the central courtyard is capitalised as the Court.


As mentioned before this chapter title is altered from queer to strange. It refers to Mary-Lou and Gwendoline becoming friends after Gwendoline ducked her in an earlier chapter. However, the other girls are noted to think how odd  it was for them to be friends, instead of queer. Keeping both words the same, I think, tied it all together better.

Instead of going down to the pool to bathe Darrell goes to swim. Bathe is a little old-fashioned, we don’t really use that to means swim and I suppose it sound more like a washing activity than a sporting one but still, did it really need to be changed?

Lastly flower-vases becomes flower vases while common room still becomes common-room.

At a rough count that’s 14 alterations (not counting every straight substitution from slap to scold/shake otherwise I’d be here all night.)

That makes 56 altogether so far.

There was one illustration in the hardback actually, of the classroom when Mam’zelle Rougier is scolding Alicia for pretending to be deaf (though this time she actually is) but there are none in the paperback. None of the Malory Towers books seem to have many illustrations actually, not compared to the Famous Five or Adventure Series certainly. I’m not sure though, if earlier Jenny Chapple editions (which go right back to the 1967 Dragon paperback) had more illustrations in them.

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