The Saucy Jane Family: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 4

Last time we saw quite a bit of text cut out of one chapter plus some other more minor changes, so let’s see what we get this time.

I am comparing the first edition (Lutterworth Press, 1947) to an omnibus edition containing four of the six books (Egmont, 2014).


Most of the changes here revolve around gay and queer. 

  • gay castles – pretty castles
  • gay and neat – bright and tidy
  • gay – bright
  • what a queer, lovely, gay little place – bright, lovely, little place

As you can see they’ve not exactly widened the vocabulary as they’ve mostly used bright as a replacement. Also, I don’t know why neat had to become tidy?

Black Sambo became Stella in the previous chapter and so now references to him ie he have become she. 

And lastly, the somewhat deferential titles for the children have been removed. Ann and Belinda had been called Missy three times between them, and Mike Little Master once.


A second chapter without anything changed!


A queer chapter indeed. Blyton has overused queer just a bit!

  • dark and damp and queer – dark and damp
  • queer – strange
  • queerly loud – oddly loud
  • the queer call – the call
  • queer trumpet – strange trumpet

A mix of replacing it with alternatives and just removing the adjective altogether.

As with the previous chapter missy is removed, well once it is, the other time it is (presumably accidentally) left in.


There are three gays in this chapter to be edited.

Daddy and Mike repaint the Saucy Jane’s rowing boat and made her very bright and gay. In the new edition the quoted part is just deleted, when they could easily have put bright and fresh or just left it at bright.

The two gay caravans are now just two caravans, and clean and gay becomes clean and bright. 

The children are no longer described as brown and fat and strong they are just brown and strong. It’s an odd one as Blyton seemed to use fat both positively (as in this case) and negatively (think Gwendoline Lacey etc). As this is a positive use I don’t see so much of a problem, especially as they are described as sturdy in the next sentence.

And a last one that made me laugh. In winter at the caravans the children enjoy games and books and wireless. Now they enjoy games and books and television.

Let’s just think about that for a moment. Television. In a wooden gypsy caravan parked in a field. A caravan pulled by horses because it’s 1947! Six years before TVs became even moderately common-place thanks to the coronation. They can’t possible expect it to seem realistic that there are horse-drawn coal-barges tootling up the canal taking days at a time but there are also TVs in caravans!

And a final 7 changes there, and that brings the final total to 25. That doesn’t sound like very much perhaps but it is a very short book. It’s not that much longer than a Noddy for example.

Most of the changes are absolutely expected, for example the removal/replacement of queer and gay, and many other changes really are minimal. I like that they kept the italics exactly as they were, too.

However, some nice old-fashioned touches are lost in the effort to make the book seem modern and current, but the modern feel is ‘ruined’ as soon as the horse-drawn coal-barges make an appearance. Just another example of how futile it is to try to make what is essentially now a period piece into a modern one without rewriting it entirely.


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1 Response to The Saucy Jane Family: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part 4

  1. Francis says:

    Queer was quite interesting word with lots of subtle meanings – it is such a shame that it is not used much now. The same with gay which was a delightful word with a lovely happy meaning.


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