As promised here I am starting a new text comparison, this time of the first book in the Secret Series, The Secret Island. My original copy is a sixth impression from October 1949 (and has an inscription in the front from Christmas 1949 when the book was given to Pamela, by her ‘Uncle Wendy,’ or at least that’s what it looks like!) The paperback is an Award one from 2009.
Starting, as you do, at the very start of the book, the first difference is that there is no end-paper illustration in the paperback, or vignette on the title page. Modern books so rarely have these lovely pictures which is a shame. Also, the Roman numerals have been removed. There are no chapter numbers in the paperback in fact, though all twenty-one chapter titles are unaltered.
CHAPTER ONE: THE BEGINNING OF THE ADVENTURES
The first change, which seems to be quite common is that the double quotation makes for speech are replaced with single ones. I always think double ones are clearer.
For some reason the single line after the first paragraph has been merged into the opening paragraph in the paperback. I can’t really see why.
Very quickly we get into the problem that the original text refers to Nora being slapped. She says Aunt Harriet slapped me six times this morning because I didn’t wash the curtains well enough. Look! This is replaced with yelled at me six times. Look! Originally she then shows Jack her arm, red with slaps. This is changed to her hands which were red and sore from all the washing.
Later when Mike says he hates to see the girls slapped and worked hard, it becomes bullied and worked hard.
And later, another line is drastically altered from Nora got a few more slaps and Peggy was scolded so hard she cried bitterly into her overall, to Nora got shouted at again, and Peggy was in such trouble she cried bitterly for hours. So slaps becomes a shouting-at, that’s expected really, but why has a scolding becomes trouble? And why can’t a girl doing cleaning wear an overall? It could easily have been changed to an apron or dress, why make it a time period instead?
Not all mentions of violence are removed though. In both copies Mike says that his uncle shook me so hard I couldn’t stand up afterwards. Likewise, the phrase no unkind aunt and uncle to slap them appears in both. I’m not sure either of these can be seen as any more acceptable to the editors so I assume they were somehow missed somewhere in the process.
The rest of the changes are quite minor really. The usual hyphenations become one word like to-day, good-bye and to-night, hallo Jack becomes hello Jack, and Granpa becomes Grandpa. I’m sure you can argue many ways that Grandpa is more correct but surely people are allowed to choose their own names for their grandparents? Be it Grandpop, Pop-pop, Paw-paw, Grandad, Granddad, Grandaddy… Granpa is pronounced a little differently from Grandpa and is a different name. Finally, some emphasis and excitement is lost when we must, must, see the secret island becomes just must, must (the second must losing its italics).
One change which may turn out to be a simple error comes when the children are being described. Nora is described as having a head of black curls originally, which matches the illustrations in both books, but in the paperback she is blonde in the text. Peggy also has blonde hair instead of yellow. It will be interesting to see if the hair colour changes back later.
CHAPTER TWO: AN EXCITING DAY
A few more references to slapping are removed. Instead of looking forward to being safe from the slappings and scoldings, it becomes from shouting and unhappiness. Also, Peggy originally says she doesn’t care how much we are slapped or scolded now and this becomes shouted at now.
A spelling error is corrected too, as Jack in the hardback has them bale out and baling out the water from the boat, this is altered to bail out and bailing out. I admit I did a quick Google just to check, and the difference is explained as bale is correct for bundles of hay for example as it is from an old German word connected with ball. Bailing out is spelled so because it’s from the French for bucket – baille.
Somewhat unusually (in my experience anyway) the paperback has a fair number of illustrations. There is one decent sized one in each of the first two chapters (compared to six small ones in the hardback). Unfortunately, in my opinion, they are fairly poor especially when compared with E.H Davie’s originals. The cover is lovely, as expected as it was by the great illustrator Val Biro (who sadly passed away recently aged 92), but the internal illustrations are by a chap called Dudley Wynne. I’ll take a few photos of them just to show you what I mean.
Wynne’s are much more heavily drawn and shaded and the children (especially Nora) have odd-looking faces. E.H. Davie manages to put much more detail in too. I’ve had a flick through the paperback and the illustrations don’t seem to improve so I will probably share some of the worst in later posts.
Anyway, I make that sixteen changes to the text (if you count all hyphen removal as one). It will be interesting to see if there are as many in later chapters as they will be removed from the slappings and shakings and scoldings then. This updated text doesn’t seem to go as far as some others does in terms of gender equality (at least not yet) as Mike still takes on the burden of making the decision about running away despite the fact Peggy is the oldest. And he sits and wonders if the girls will manage, roughing it on the island without proper beds.
And I will leave it there for this week.