The Saucy Jane Family: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

I’ve been looking for a new book to compare lately – as it has been a weekly scramble to come up with an idea otherwise – and then this rather fell into my lap. Or fell into my Whatsapp conversation, rather. Stef sent me a picture of the Caravan Family 4-in-1 collection which was selling for the princely sum of £2 in The Works. I managed to find a copy in my local store this week so I am all set. Well, almost.

I just have a nagging sense of ‘wrongness’ at doing a comparison of the second book in a series when I’ve always done the first! I know that realistically it is of no importance at all but it still bothers me… but as Stef pointed out in her review this book has books 2, 3, 4 and 6 for some unfathomable reason. So I’m just going to have to live with doing the second book.


The early edition I have of The Saucy Jane Family is actually the first edition published by Lutterworth Press in 1947. It’s a fairly slim book though it makes the omnibus edition look hard-pressed to contain four whole books. The omnibus (or bind-up as it is called on the back cover) is from 2014 and was published by Egmont.

The original is illustrated by Ruth Gervis, both externally and internally. The omnibus isn’t really illustrated – it just has little vignettes of seagulls above each chapter title, and a vignette of a different child looking through a port-hole at the start of each book. These, and the cover illustration, are done by Mark Beech who seems to strive so hard for his work to look like Quentin Blake’s that at a quick glance I am fooled into thinking they are by Quentin Blake. I like Quentin Blake’s work for Roald Dahl – in fact when I see earlier editions with other people’s illustrations I’m quite put out – but I don’t think his style, stolen or original, is really right for Blyton.

Mark Beech’s on the right, and Quentin Blake’s on the left.


Well, this is quite unexpected so far. It’s admittedly a short chapter – just 5-6 pages in fact – but there has been only ONE change made. I was actually beginning to wonder if it had been edited at all! And then finally I spotted a queer, which has now become odd. 

I mean I hate the updating but I was actually beginning to worry that I had wasted time and money here, if there was nothing to report!

Interestingly all the italics (and there are quite a lot of them, including every time Saucy Jane is mentioned) have been left alone – very unusual in my experience so far.


Ahh, this is more like it. Some actual changes to comment on in this chapter!

Like with all the other books I’ve looked at the quaint hyphenation of to-day is done away with (and presumably the same will be said for to-morrow and so on.) Saying that, it seems that all other hyphens have been left alone. Exciting-looking, cabin-part, sitting-space and so on all retain their hyphens when in all the other updatings I have looked at they have done away with a majority of hyphens.

Then we have a question from Mike –

“Why did we build canals, when we have so many rivers?” 

And Daddy’s answer is changed – but at least in a reasonably sensitive and minor way. (Though the more I look at it now the more I think it’s a rather bad run-on sentence!)

“Well, many goods are sent by water, instead of by rail, which is very dear,” said Daddy. “In the old days, when goods had to be taken about all over the country, and the roads were bad, and the railways were only just beginning, to take them by water was a very good way.”

Has become:

“Well, many goods were sent by water in the old days, when goods had to be taken about all over the country, and the roads were bad, and the railways were only just beginning.”

But then Daddy promises to show them barges and so on working on the canals which is fairly unlikely on a modern canal! You’ll see boats on canals now certainly but they’ll all be pleasure-boats and not working ones! (If you like canals and things like that, by the way, I recommend Great Canal Journeys on Channel 4 with Prunella Scales and her husband.)

After that very gay indeed becomes very colourful indeed – I expected that as soon as I saw gay. 

And lastly Is that the Saucy Jane over yonder? is now Is that the Saucy Jane over there?

I’m not sure how many to count this as this time. Four are easy to count but if I go by my ‘rule’ of counting removal of sentences we have only truly lost one. Yet, what Daddy says is significantly different in the new edition. I think I’m going to count it as two as two phrases are clearly cut.

So that make six in total!

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2 Responses to The Saucy Jane Family: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition?

  1. Francis says:

    You deserve a medal, Fiona for all the checking of text you have done.
    Well done. Francis


  2. Dale Vincero, Brisbane, Australia says:

    I have noticed how Enid Blyton was not very innovated when it came to choosing names. This “Saucy Jane” name has come up in several books, along with “Cheeky Charlie”. And we have a plethora of “George” and “Jack” in her various series of novels.


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