The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 2

This week I’m back with the Five Find-Outers to see what else has changed. The first post can be seen here.

To remind you – my personal copy is a Methuen from 1957 – the 12th reprint/impression of the original edition. The new copy is the most modern of any paperbacks I have used so far, an Egmont copy from 2014.


Nothing too major to report for this chapter.

As per usual, hyphens are being removed from phrases. Summer-house is now summerhouse (except for the first time it is used, when it’s left with its hyphen).

When Bets is enjoying being one of the gang it is referred to as being one of the Big Ones. Generally random capitals are frowned upon – especially by me – but in this case changing that to one of the big ones means it loses some of its impact.


Like the previous chapter fire it has been changed to set fire to it. 

Previous books have taken out a lot of the italics Blyton used for emphasis – and it happened twice in chapter two of this one as well. In this chapter we had it’s his mystery which has now lost the added emphasis.

Lastly something that will carry over into the next chapter too. Larry plans to drop a shilling so that they can pretend to be hunting for it in Mr Hick’s garden. This has been changed to drop a coin on both occasions it is mentioned.


The shilling/coin change becomes silly in chapter four. Larry now says look for my coin, all of you, answers my coin to Clear-Orf’s question of what they are looking for, then Ah! My coin! when he finds it, and lastly, I’ve got my coin now. 


Nobody drops a pound or fifty pence and says I’ve lost my coin (unless, I suppose the coin was of some historical value – but then you’d say I’ve lost my ancient Roman coin. Sometimes using a vague reference to coins or money works in updating, but in this case it doesn’t at all. If he had said my money it wouldn’t have sounded so silly, or he could have been specific and said a pound.

When looking for footprints in the garden it is said that There were none on the path, which was made of cinders, and showed no footmarks at all, of course. The 2014 book only says There were none on the path. I can’t understand why, unless they think that children will be stumped by a cinder path. It could easily have become gravel, which wouldn’t show footprints either.

In the original text Fatty says he won a prize for Art. School subjects always seem to be capitalised in Blyton’s books but are lower-cased in the modern reprints including this one.

While Fatty hasn’t been called fat in these chapters (not even when squeezing through a gap in the hedge) Larry’s joke about the art of  [Fatty] eating too much has been removed.

DSCN6300 circled

The hyphen is also lost from tea-time, but instead of the more common tea time they have rendered it as teatime.

And lastly – they have clearly decided all italics must be abolished.

  • You haven’t found a thing
  • This must be the print must
  • Yes he is clever
  • I would not have said
  • You nearly made me go green
  • You’d say we had been looking

Perhaps Blyton did use rather a lot of italics for emphasis, but I can’t see the harm in that. It’s all in direct speech from the children and it’s only natural, when speaking, to emphasise important words. Without the emphasis many of these lines fall rather flat.

Strangely, the reference to Mr Hick having a man-servant hasn’t been changed. Most references to servants and maids have been changed to staff or other more modern terms.


This chapter is surprisingly light in changes.

Italics are removed from two further phrases:

  • What about me?
  • She simply could not remember

Th only other changes are where Fatty talks about Horace Peeks. Thomas, the chauffeur talks about him as Peeks, and Larry asks who is Peeks? Fatty calls him Mr Peeks on all subsequent occasions, and he is also Mr Peeks in the ‘thoughts’ of the two boys.


Seeing as many of these changes are just repetitions of earlier ones, the count is only 15 for these four chapters. Adding that to the previous ones we get a total of 37.

And – disclaimer! I haven’t drawn on any books, promise!

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7 Responses to The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 2

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Sorry, I could swear I clicked on 5 stars, but for some weird reason it only accepted 4 stars :(. Thanks for the review.


  2. Michael Edwards says:

         My copy is the Dragon Books edition from the 1960s, and, as far as I can recall (I read it recently), it follows the old text.
         But one thing I am wondering about, which you haven’t mentioned, is this: In phrases like “Mr. Hick” or “Mr. Peeks”, have the full-stops from “Mr.” been removed in the modern edition? I would be highly surprised if they were retained; but I think it is better to retain them for abbreviations like this. People don’t seem to believe in punctuation so much any more; but it serves a useful function in clarifying a variety of things.


  3. Francis says:

    Another great review but I am glad I have the original editions and would recommend them to any children.


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