First Term at Malory Towers – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

After a lengthy search I* managed to find my two copies of First Term at Malory Towers (I was in a bit of a panic actually as I didn’t have anything lined up.) *Ok, I found one and Ewan found the other. I really must put them somewhere safe when I’m done tonight. So I’m carrying on from where I left off last time, with chapter 11 onwards.

Earlier chapters can be seen here, with parts one, two, three and four.


Very little to write about for this chapter, there’s only one new change in fact. Leant becomes leaned. This is quite a common type of change, we’ve had leapt changed to leaped earlier in the book, and I’m sure there were some similar examples in the first Famous Five book. Both are correct, though the -ed ending appears to be more common now.

There’s one illustration in this chapter, in both books, and this time the illustrators have depicted the same scene – the spider crawling up Gwendoline’s leg (though in the hardback this is put a page or two before it actually happens.)

I think they were both good. They both convey plenty of movement though perhaps Lloyd captures more of the fear on Gwen’s face – and I love the flying plait.


Slightly more to say about this chapter, I admit I was getting worried the editor had gone lazy on us.

Another reference to spanking is removed, despite it being theoretical and not practical. Miss Potts tells Gwendoline that she and her school friends had a very good punishment for sneaks. All the girls in the sneak’s dormy gave her one good spank with the back of a hair-brush. This is to deter her from being a sneak of course. It gets updated to the sneak’s dormy giving her a terrible scolding. Not quite the same deterrent is it?

Queer of course gets changed, twice to strange and once to odd. Originally Darrell sank down on to a form, which becomes a bench. I’m not sure I know exactly what a form is, though from the context I’d assume it meant a chair, bench or something similar and not a class of girls. Presumably it has been changed as other modern children aren’t familiar with the word either.

Lastly, in the hardback it is said, Not Alicia. Alicia wouldn’t do a thing like that. But Somebody. In this case somebody has a capital letter as it’s a particular somebody and this is being emphasised. Typically a capital there would be incorrect, but as this is stylistic I feel it’s perfectly fine. The paperback’s editor didn’t agree and has removed the capital letter.


There’s only one very minor change here. Hie, Sally! becomes Hi! Sally. We saw this in the Famous Five too, and I’ve always maintained that hie and hi are not interchangeable. Hie means oi, hey, you there! or something similar whereas hi is simply short short hello.

Originally there was an illustration with this chapter, of Darrell speaking with Miss Potts (who is younger and thinner than I always imagine) about her place in the form but there is none in the paperback.


It seems the editor was saving himself for this chapter!

Lots of things are modernised, most of which seem pointless.

Darrell’s father’s driving gets cut twice – She soon saw her father’s plain black car which he drove himself becomes her father in his black car. Possibly this is because Blyton meant something like instead of being chauffeur driven, which is pretty uncommon these days. Though, really, nowadays it could be read that he’s driving rather than his wife, women drivers being much more common now than they would have been then.

Then, Darrell’s greeting to him, Hallo Daddy – did you drive all the way down? is cut to just Hallo Daddy. Poor Mr Rivers, as his wife gets a much more personal greeting. I really can’t see why this is cut.

Swimming-match is updating twice to simply swimming, though again, I can’t see why that’s necessary, and swimming-sports becomes swimming competition.

Gwendoline is no longer a real muff at all games, rather she is a chump, and instead of Darrell saying Gwendoline has been stuffing you up, she is now having you on. I can see why muff has been removed as it has much less savoury connotations now, but the other change seems silly as Mary-Lou thinks something about Gwen stuffing her people with lies earlier on.

Lastly, Mr River thinks Darrell looks ‘on top of the world’, the quotes showing it is a thought, but like earlier in the book the quotation marks are removed.

I count that as 11 unique changes (I’ve not counted the queers for example) so it is now 67 in total. The next chapter is an exciting one so I’m looking forward to reading it, and seeing how it is altered, if at all!

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7 Responses to First Term at Malory Towers – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

  1. An Englishwoman says:

    When I was at infants’ school (late 1960’s) the long, backless benches we sat on at lunchtime were still sometimes referred to as forms. I had forgotten that.


    • fiona says:

      Thanks for the info. It’s not a term I’ve really heard anyone use, by the time I was at school (in the 90s) all benches were just benches, though no doubt some of the teachers would have sat on ‘forms’ when they were younger.


  2. Francis says:

    Yes I remember form being used as a term for a long bench. The bit removing the friendly enquiry about her father’s drive is just sad – makes the text much more bland. In fact making the text bland seems to be the effect of many of the changes. Thanks for the review, Fiona – it is very valuable.


  3. Francis says:

    I have come to realise that many of the changes conspire to remove the colour and interest from the book and to make the content much more bland.
    Thank for your detailed review, Fiona.


  4. Barbara says:

    I started school in 1952 and ate my first school lunch whilst sitting on a form. It doesn’t make much sense when you say it now, but it was perfectly fine at the time.
    I much prefer the first illustration (on the left) of Gwen and the spider, but perhaps that’s because I remember them.


    • fiona says:

      I usually prefer the original illustrators, but I have a soft spot for Jenny Chapple as hers were the ones I mostly grew up on. I don’t think I saw a Methuen copy until I was all grown up.


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