Thanks to a generous society member I now have a stack of issues of Enid Blyton’s Magazine. I have 22 in total which seemed a lot until I checked and discovered there are 162 in the run!
The magazine began in March 1953 (mere weeks after the final Blyton issue of Sunny Stories) and ran until September 1959. I don’t have any Sunny Stories to compare them to but I think the magazines are fairly similar in format – a couple of short stories, a chapter or two of a serialised novel, a couple of puzzles and some adverts. Blyton makes it clear on the cover, though, that Enid Blyton’s Magazine is “The only magazine I write.”
The EB Magazine seems to have gone down a slightly different route to Sunny Stories, though. Sunny Stories were undated – to give them a longer shelf life – and could be found in great numbers in many newsagents. I suspect that the magazine, being dated, would have meant children had a shorter period in which to procure each volume.
Being a selection of duplicates from someone’s collection they are a random assortment from the run – four from volume 3, one from volume 4, fourteen from volume 5 and three from volume 6. I’d like to say that I would get some more, someday, perhaps try to complete volume 5 but having had a quick nosy on eBay and seeing that single magazines are priced at around £5 each, I can’t see it happening! They are lovely things to have but I really don’t have that sort of money to spend collecting magazines.
Just a note about the numbering, as well. I was pretty confused at first, until I checked the Cave of Books. I’d been looking through and wondering how I’d landed so many 5th issues from all the various editions… Picking up one at random now, I have “No. 14, Vol. 5.” That’s not the 5th volume of Magazine 14, though. That’s the 14th issue of Volume 5. I suspect normal people wouldn’t find it too confusing, though, as they are dated at the bottom too.
The magazines feature a lot of familiar characters from Blyton’s novels, already I’ve spotted The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Noddy, Amelia Jane, Rumble and Chuff, Brer Rabbit and Mr Twiddle. Saying that, much of the contents are not advertised on the front (though major serialisations are) and there’s no contents list inside. I’m betting that the Blyton name on the front was more important than anything else in getting children to buy.
There are also a host of familiar illustrators on the covers and inside. The Five are still drawn by Soper, The Secret Seven by Burgess Sharrocks, there are illustrations by Grace Lodge, Hilda McGavin, Sylvia I Venus and many others.
What’s also interesting is the serialised novels (such as Five Go to Billycock Hill, Five Get into a Fix, Secret Seven Mystery, The Adventure of the Strange Ruby, The Birthday Kitten and so on) have different illustrations than in their novels. The artists drew magazine illustrations (1-2 per chapter plus a repeated motif for the title) and then drew fresh illustrations for the novels. If you compare them, you can see many novel illustrations are reworked versions of what appeared in the magazines. It makes you re-think the whole ‘value’ of first editions, when the true first printings of a work was in cheap (4.5d) magazines.
Along that line of thought, I’m now thinking about the whole notion of having to wait two weeks to get the next chapter of a novel. There are 21 chapters in Five Go to Billycock Hill (though other serials may well have been shorter) so that’s 21 fortnights, aka, 42 weeks to complete the story. Nearly a year! In fact, Five Go to Billycock Hill began on May 23, 1956 (No. 9 of Vol. 4) and it concluded on Feb 27, 1957 (No. 5 of Vol. 5.) I don’t think I would have had the patience for that!
I wonder if it had any effect on book sales, as well. If so many children had already read the book in magazine serial form, would they still rush out and pay seven-and-six for the same content? I suppose they might have missed chapters (parents would, no doubt, not have understood the absolute necessity of getting a copy every fortnight, though, saying that, I bet children swapped them about like they would have their comics).
Breaking out the calculator for a moment, those 21 issues for Five Go to Billycock Hill would have cost 7 shillings, 10½d. More expensive than the book, but then again you were often getting two serials at the same time as well as other content, so the value is perhaps better!
While a fair bit of the magazines’ content went on to be republished there are also a lot of other gems which remain uncollected. So unless you have those magazines, you won’t be able to read them. For example, my first magazine is No. 8. of Vol. 3. and it contains the uncollected stories Sitting on an Adventure, The Acorn Snake and Are You Dreaming, Mr Twiddle? It also contains a segment of the picture-strip serialisation of Noddy and Tricky Teddy, a book which isn’t half as common or easy to come by as those from the Famous Five or Secret Seven etc.
So if you happen to see a bunch of these cheaply (or for free!) I’d snap them up and see what gems lie inside.
Full contents and illustration credits can be found in the Cave of Books.