The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 13

We are finally in the home stretch for this lengthy comparison. There were only three chapters left of the book and I got them all done tonight! For my next comparison series I will pick something short – I’m thinking Noddy!

All the previous posts can be found here, in parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve.

My own copy of the book is an 8th impression from 1955 (it was my mum’s before it was mine) and the modern copy I’m comparing it to is a Macmillan one from 2001 (one I borrowed from Stef).


I only spotted two changes made to this chapter. The first was a standard replacement – weird for queer. The second was one of the ones that actually made sense as much as I hate to admit it. The original text the boys are talking about the counterfeit money being used by the thieves or their masters. The word thieves has been replaced with crooks in the millennium edition. Crooks may well be a more accurate word as we have no evidence that the men have stolen anything, merely that they are producing fake money.


Just as I was thinking the last few chapters would make for a short blog I started finding changes on nearly every page.

Jo-Jo’s words about killing Kiki have been changed from I’ll pay my debt now to I’ll pay me debt now. Some of his more colloquial language has been written out already so I can’t understand why poor English has suddenly been inserted now, unless it’s just a mistake.

Instead of Kiki flying as silently as a bat she flies as silent as a bat. 

Several descriptions of Jo-Jo get altered. Black is removed from his black face gleaming in the moonlight, and white is removed from showing his white teeth. Amazingly white is also removed when he shows his teeth again, and rather than being a stupid, half-crazy fellow he is now a stupid, grumpy fellow. 

Hyphens continue to be removed from some phrases like bank-notes but one instance of queer is left in place.


There are plenty more changes to end on in this final chapter! One thing that wasn’t changed, though, was the one instance where Lucy-Ann is simply referred to as Lucy. I’ve never noticed that before I don’t think!

Bill no longer talks about dear Jo-Jo’s boat, he just says they’ll take  Joe’s boat. Obviously the dear is sarcastic but I don’t think it was necessary to remove it.

A lengthy speech from Jack about Mrs Mannering also gets cut : She’s just wasted as a business woman I think,” said Jack to Philip. “She’s a mother and she ought to live like a mother and have a nice home of her own and you and Dinah with her.” Clearly this tripped the gender equality sensor and therefore got cut down to: “It’s a shame your mother can’t have a nice home of her own and you and Dinah with her,” said Jack to Philip.

After that Dinah says that is the plan and there is enough money so that Mrs Mannering can stop her hard work. Instead now she can stop working so hard. 

I can see why this has been changed. The editor has looked at it and said “we can’t promote the stereotype of women staying at home and being mothers and  home makers.” By making this change they rather imply that all women ought to go out to work and have joined all the people who make working mothers feel guilty about leaving their children to earn an income. If Mrs Mannering has chosen to stay at home with her children who she has barely seen over the past few years then I say good for her!

When Woffly (the mouse) runs out at the dinner table it upset Dinah and made everyone laugh. Perfectly fitting given Dinah’s dislike of Philips creatures but the millennium edition merely reads that it made everyone laugh. The original text may give the idea that people are laughing at Dinah’s discomfort but it can also be read as two separate things that happen at the same time. Either way, it is not a necessary change.

More hyphens are removed, this time from well-water, motor-boats and ginger-beer, and for a fitting end the final sentence is altered. Like earlier in the book Kiki’s cry of God save the king becomes God save the queen.

I’m going to count that as nine changes which brings us to a final tally of 128. Out of interest I have done a quick count of two words: queer and black. Queer appeared 40 times in the original text – 28 were changed to something else while 12 were left alone. Jo-Jo was referred to as black 35 times all of which were changed.

To compare the number of changes across all the books I’ve done so far:

First Term at Malory Towers – 133

The Island of Adventure – 128

Five on a Treasure Island – 117

The Secret Island – 59

The order changes however if you calculate how many changes we get per chapter (on average):

Five on a Treasure Island – 7

First Term at Malory Towers – 6

Island of Adventure – 4.5

The Secret Island – 3

So the fight for the most altered Blyton novel continues!

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3 Responses to The Island of Adventure – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 13

  1. drake says:

    They are of their time and should be left alone from the revisionist nazis. Is Fatty now called calorifically challenged?


  2. Francis says:

    Thank you Fiona – another brilliant piece of detection. Hate the changes but love your analysis.


  3. Rose says:

    Excellent informative article. Thankyou. Changing original words of a story clearly set nearly 100 years ago ruins it. As if publishers want to sabotage stories. Is it only Enid Blyton they do this to? Isnt this sexism if they dont do this to male writers? It spoils the stories, its sacrilege to change the words, i grew up reading them and am definitely not racist etc so to imply reading about jo jo being black is bad, is publishers showing their own stupid ignorance. Jo jo is a cool name (white female singer has the name so what’s wrong with it?) Publishers should have embraced fact Enid Blyton picked a main character to be a black man. Its 50 years since i read these but i loved the adventure series and i remember jojo being a lovable rogue, meaning yes he was a baddie, but the way Enid Blyton wrote him, made you love him. A lot of this was because of his lovable cool different name. Joe is boring, jojo is exciting. I bet many like me want to replace our yellow paged worn out books, to find we cant because they arent the same books anymore, they really shouldnt be listed as written by Enid Blyton! I was ready to spend hundreds replacing mine, to find i cant. Anyone know where i can get nice copies with original illustrations/words (1960/70s word editions) thanks


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