The Twins at St Clare’s – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 6

This week (after abandoning this series for over a month) I got through two chapters. That leaves just five to go. Earlier posts – one, two, three, four and five.


The class-related discussions suffer from the most updating in this chapter. There are one or two slightly uncomfortable moments, where the St Clare’s girls look down on Sheila for being ‘new-money’ (though that phrase is never used). Saying that, it is made clear that they don’t care that she’s not always been rich, but that she hasn’t been honest about her situation and has pretended to be something she’s not. That may still sound horrible, but Sheila was one to constantly brag about her house and servants… and well, that’s where the edits start to creep in so I will get on with documenting them.

Sheila brags (or indeed swanks) about her marvellous home and the number of servants they keep, and her horse, and their three motor-cars. This gets changed to her marvellous home, and her horse, and their three cars. Obviously nobody nowadays is allowed to have servants, but the least they could do was make it staff. Very rich people still pay people to cook and clean for them! Also, three cars is hardly boarding-school bragging material now. I would think that having only three cars might be a shameful point.

Likewise, Janet’s speech about Sheila’s bragging gets cut up. She had said you talk about your servants and your Rolls-Royce cars, your house and your lake and goodness knows what – and then you talk like the daughter of the dustman! and now it is you talk about your house, and your cars, your horse and your lake and goodness knows what – and then you talk like a barrow-boy.

Again, that could have been staff rather than servants and Rolls-Royce is still a well-known luxury car brand. Or they could have had Janet mention their Bugatti Veyrons or Porches of course, if they wanted something more ‘now’. Also, I’m not sure how barrow-boy is less offensive or classist than daughter of a dustman.  I suppose that there are likely to be daughters of bin-men reading, and not so many barrow-boys but the classism is still there. I’m not entirely sure it’s that classist, even. It would be like saying ‘you waltz around like you’re the queen and then talk like you’re from a council estate’. It’s not polite, but it points out an incongruity.

Janet also says that decent people don’t use some of the phrases Sheila does. This has been changed to simply that people don’t. I suppose they felt that it wasn’t fair to imply people who don’t speak ‘well’ aren’t decent, but that’s Janet’s opinion and not a fact.

I sort of agree with one change, however. Initially Sheila knew she wasn’t as good as the others [because she was born poor]. This has been changed to she thought she wasn’t as good. I think that’s a positive change as Sheila isn’t any less good than girls who were lucky to be born into wealthy families. She might not be as nice as them, or have other skills they do, but she isn’t a lesser person for that. Though saying that, Sheila ‘knowing’ something is still a very personal thing. She could ‘know’ she is not as good and yet be entirely wrong.

After all that there are still a few minor changes to mention. The habit of removing some italics continues, though the majority are left. So what is the matter with her? loses much of its emphasis. ‘What is the matter with her?’ sounds like a very casual question. With the is highlighted, however, it makes the speaker sound quite flummoxed.

Good heavens is used twice in the chapter, both times the newer edition makes it Good Heavens. I can’t say I particularly agree with that. Then again I’m not a fan of he’ etc getting capitals when it’s to do with God.

The gramophone is again ‘updated’ to a record player – I’m sure I’ve already queried why Pat and Isabel aren’t putting their i-Pods into a dock to play music.

Queer becomes strange and every one quite rightly becomes everyone as it refers to people.

There are also two things left in that seem strange. Janet, in another rant, says goodness knows how many servants and cars and that is left unedited – the only reference to servants which isn’t removed. They also leave twopence in (I can’t remember the exact wording now but it was as in ‘I don’t care twopence for her) when usually now it’s tuppence.


And then, after all that, I could only find one change to this chapter. It’s hardly worth mentioning, really. Very left-out becomes very left out. That’s it.

I make that as nine changes – all in chapter 15. That brings us to 72 in total.

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1 Response to The Twins at St Clare’s – How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 6

  1. Francis says:

    Another ‘tour de force’ which makes fascinating reading. Thank you Fiona.


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