The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

I’m keeping up with my resolution to do at least one of these a month (so far!). Previous instalments can be seen  hereherehere and here.

As always my own copy is a Methuen from 1957 – a 12th reprint/impression of the original. The new version is the most modern of any paperbacks I have looked at so far,  which is an Egmont copy from 2014.


The new version of the text continues to make Fatty seem lazy and uninterested in find-outing. Originally he says he would like to go with the others on a bike ride  but I believe I’m too stiff. This is changed to the weak-sounding but I don’t feel up to it. 

Considering the majority of the references to his bruises, stiffness and soreness have been cut from earlier chapters his not feeling up to going with the others sounds like a lame excuse.

The children no longer get called in to tea by a bell. The tea-bell rang. The children ran indoors to wash, and were soon sitting down, has become The children were called into tea, and ran indoors to wash. They were soon sitting down. 

It’s bad enough that they had to change a bell to being called, but it annoys me even more that they then alter the following sentences to accommodate it. Why not Mrs Hilton called out that it was tea-time. The children ran indoors… Or of course, they could still have a bell! If they have an enormous garden it still makes sense for a bell (or gong) to be rung to save someone bellowing.

As with one or two earlier chapters hie is changed to hey, and all instances of italics are lost.

  • I’d like to go
  • That seemed very suspicious indeed. Very suspicious.


In all chapters so far any capitalising of words like suspect has been removed. It is a bit strange therefore that Bets’ phrase of find-outing suddenly becomes Find-Outing here. They are Find-Outers (a name for their group) because they find things out, or find-out as Bets says. I don’t think that qualifies the act of find-outing for capitals.

As with the last chapter the bell is done away with. Instead of Then a bell rang it is Then they were called for dinner. At least it doesn’t necessitate other text being changed – but it makes slightly less sense because not all the children would have been called. Daisy and Larry went home and Fatty went back to the hotel with Buster. So, it should have been Pip and Bets were called for dinner, except it says after that how Pip went in to supper and Bets went to bed. So why was anyone called for dinner?

And again, not a single italics survives. It’s so annoying!

  • she couldn’t have started the fire
  • tell us where he was
  • Then what do we do?
  • Did you really see them?
  • now we seem to have two people

Perhaps five uses of italics in one chapter could seem like a lot, but the pages are hardly peppered with it.

Some odd things that have survived are a couple of references to Fatty’s bruises. Mentions of bruises have been cut out of earlier chapters, but in this one we are told his bruises are now red-purple, and he slept badly because of his bruises.

Only six individual changes between those two chapter, but we now have 109 altogether.

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3 Responses to The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 5

  1. It REALLY annoys me that Blyton’s original texts have been ‘updated for a modern audience’. They were written in a style and with with appropriate wording for the times and if the ‘modern audience’ cannot appreciate that then that is sad. The language used was outdated when I read them back in the 1970s but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment, in fact I’d say it enhanced it. Can you imagine the outcry if Shakespeare’s texts (for example) were given the same treatment? Afterall, they are hardly easy to understand for the ‘modern audience’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Francis says:

      Jill – you’re so right. Imagine if they updated the text of the Harry Potter books in 60 years time – after the author has safely ‘passed on’ of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Francis says:

    What a huge number of changes so far – I think the quality of the text is summed up by the quality of the new cover compared to the old – not in the same league.
    Many thanks, Fiona

    Liked by 1 person

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