The Secret Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 4

This week we start on chapter ten of The Secret Island, and continue until chapter thirteen. The original text I’m using is from the sixth impression from October 1949 and the updated text is from an Award paperback from 2009. There weren’t many changes in the last few chapters, I wonder if that trend will continue? (The earlier posts can be read here and here.)



It looks like the trend of very few changes will continue as there are only two in this chapter. Firstly, the old milking-pail becomes the old milk pail, and secondly he’s dropping with sleep is altered to he’s dropping asleep.

Both are very minor changes that you probably wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for them but to me they join the list of pointless changes. Neither makes any meanings clearer or removes potential offence. The milking-pail one is particularly ridiculous as it is called a milking-pail at least two or three times in subsequent chapters.

As usual we get one illustration from Dudley Wynne in the paperback (of Peggy looking at the trippers’ rubbish) We actually get four in the hardback this time, of varying different scenes from the chapter.


There is only one little change in this chapter. The children tell Nora that it is all right after the hens return, then the original reads and it was all right. The italics are removed from was in the paperback, doing away with the emphasis it provides. Again, italics remain in several paragraphs after that so I can’t see why they couldn’t be left alone here.

This time Wynne illustrates Nora hiding in the bracken after losing the hens, and Jack (presumably) looking for her on the opposite page. Davie drew Nora before the hens escaped and then crying when the other scold her, and also the girls washing up when Nora is reunited with them.


And just one alteration to talk about again. This time it’s where the caves get called queer by Nora, and instead they become eerie.

Both Wynne and Davie draw the children inside the caves in this chapter, and Davie also has the boys on one of their night-time trips across to the farm and them sitting discussing their plans.

I don’t think Wynne quite gets the scale of the caves right. In the text they have to look right up at the high roof to work out where the sunlight comes from – in the picture there’s a great obvious hole right above their heads. Davies is much better to me, as the caves look big – at least to the children.


There’s more to discuss in this chapter but I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. It’s bad as it means there has been more meddling but it’s good as it gives me something to write about!

The children were described as being just as dark as gypsies, which becomes just as dark as could be instead. Gypsies have become a bit of a sensitive issue at some point during the books’ publishing history and I’m now wondering how many alterations are made to books featuring gypsy characters like Jo and her father in the Famous Five.

Queer, this time in relation to their food, is changed to odd.

The yellow-hammer’s song gets updated too (no-one is safe!) it is originally given as little bit of bread and no cheese! (though in at least one Famous Five title it is a little bit of bread and no cheese!) Award have made it little bits of bread and no cheese! I can’t for the life of me see why.

[Nora] and Peggy had to practice every day in the lake till Jack said they were as good as he and Mike were is what is written in the hardback and I see nothing wrong with that. It has already been established that Peggy can swim a little and Nora not very much. I’ve always assumed that Jack wanted them to be able to swim well for their own safety seeing as they live on an island and use a rickety old boat. However it is altered to [Nora] and Peggy practised every day till Jack said they were as good as he and Mike were. This only a small change but it removes the fact it was on Jack’s orders and I’m not sure why that is necessary. He is fairly bossy throughout all the chapters as he has been elected their captain and always delegates the tasks.

Finally more italics and emphasis are lost in the line she would make quite certain it was a boat next time. 

The caves are illustrated again by Wynne in this chapter, with Jack leading Daisy inside (he has an old fashioned lantern in his hand which is nice!) The same scene is also drawn by Davie, as well as the girls swimming and Peggy binding up Jack’s ankle.

This is one of the better illustrations by Wynne I think. Jack is probably the best drawn character throughout and he can draw cows quit well too, somehow!

That’s only another seven changes to the text (as I’m not adding on each time queer is altered.) Add that to the thirty four I’ve already found and we get forty one. I’ve not checked but I’m fairly certain that’s a lot less than the other books I’ve compared before.

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4 Responses to The Secret Island – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 4

  1. Francis says:

    I really don’t like the way that ‘queer’ has been replaced – what on earth is wrong with the word?
    Thank you Fiona.


  2. Lin says:

    I agree with Francis. Why can’t they leave the texts as they are?


  3. Elara says:

    Brilliant article yep totally pointless, changes story thwm changing so many unneccesary words in my eyes. Books read by 7 to 15 year old so they must have seen slapping hitting etc on a tv soap and far more violence in other books. Ditto girls housekeeping, blokes mucky jobs, common in many books and films. So totally ridiculous to massacre Enids writings, as if they have a thing against her. Lots of these changes change the story, the reason they escaped etc

    Granpa… ditto ppls names should never be changed, i’d love someone to change the name of the person who edited this!!

    The word queer etc… is still used by many including me to describe something strange, and funny is often not used to describe something strange, because people think you meam funny as in haha, so changes meaning to seem the children are laughing at the cow!

    Keeping these words in would expand the knowledge of pre teens or early teens, they can use a dictionary and learn… these books arent aimed at toddlers or 5 year olds. I read them aged 10 plus. By this age children have seen on tv far more violence, swearing etc than i ever did so can understand the concept of words meanings changing over time.


    • Fiona says:

      I hadn’t thought of it like that but yes – I bet school kids today see far more violence and offensive language on TV (and on games particularly) than anything they’ll find in a Blyton book.


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