I’ve already looked at the covers from the first editions through to ones from 1990, and now it’s time for the rest of the 90s through to the present day.
Here comes the nineties
While we have had some modernisation to the covers previously, to me the 70s are still sufficiently vintage to appear old fashioned. The early 80s Methuens have an almost 1920s feel to them despite the flares, so they seem older too.
But here in the 90s the publishers have brought the books bang up to date, making them terribly dated in 2019.
First up are some Dean editions from 1994, with covers by Liz Roberts. The girls now wear much shorter skirts, sometimes with black blazers and eat picnics in caves (I suspect it’s meant to be beside the pool in reality) while wearing on-trend alice bands.
All Dean 1994
After that are editions from Mammoth in 1995, which have illustrations that are also used on 1998 Deans and cropped on the 2006 Deans. They also seem to appear on some 2014 editions but I can’t find full details for those. They may have been part of a box set, which often have different covers from the individual titles though I found them on a bookshop website, for sale individually. Anyway, the original image and the first two redesigns are attributed to Button Design Co. I did do some Google searching and couldn’t find that company, they may be defunct now.
Anyway, they are very 90s. The uniforms are now black instead of brown and orange, but the alice bands still appear.
Mammoth 1995 / Dean 1998 / Dean 2006 / unknown 2014
The First Term cover(s) definitely put me in mind of my late primary school/early high school years, but some of the later ones seem all over the world.
All Mammoth 1995
The oversized yellow t-shirt reminds me of Neighbours from the 90s. They also look like they’re on a cruise ship, while Amanda looks like she’s in front of the Alps on the last one. (I’m sure they’re white cliffs and not mountains, but the wooden boat house/chalet doesn’t help.)
What’s interesting is the yellow cover with the crest above is remarkably similar to the editions that came out in 2009, from Dean.
Dean 2009 / unknown 2014 / Dean 2009 / unknown 2014
The colours are slightly different, but the layout is the same. Obviously the image inside the crest is very different between the editions. The 2009 ones are uncredited but are very much more in-keeping with the 1940s setting of the books.
Taking a step back to 2000
There’s a set I haven’t shown yet, as we were jumping between repeating designs. The 2000 ones were by Mammoth with covers by Paul Catherall.
I think of these as ‘spotlight’ covers as the illustration appears in a circle that looks a little light a spotlight being shone, especially on the two-tone covers like the first one. Interestingly the placement of Enid Blyton changes between the covers. Four have it split above and below the circle, and two have it above. Incidentally I have seen a cover of First Term in this design but in navy blue.
All Mammoth 2000
The last set, but the first cartoons
Up until now all the covers have featured realistic-looking girls. And then came the 2006 editions by Nicola Slater for Egmont. The same illustrations were then used in 2016 for Hodder editions, though one of them was flipped.
Egmont 2006 / Hodder 2016 / Egmont 2006 / Hodder 2016
Each cover seems to show a different girl or girls. First Term I assume is Darrell. Second, I have no idea. Third, Bill and Thunder? Upper Fourth is probably Ruth and Connie Batten. Fifth is either Gwen or Maureen, and Last Term is likely Amanda and June, but I’m not sure why they needed to include a fish.
Egmont 2006 / Hodder 2016 / Hodder 2016 / Egmont 2006
The funny thing about the second set of these covers (the ones with the white banner at the top) is that they change each book’s title. They should be in the format name of term/year at Malory Towers ie Upper Fourth at Malory Towers. These editions have it as Malory Towers Upper Fourth etc which is just not the name of the books!
One random one
As with several other series, the first book has an extra edition.
This one’s a 2015 Dean edition, and it’s random for more than just being a one-off.
It looks like it’s aimed at five-year-olds with the coloured lettering. The girls also look very young, and it’s a mystery to me why they are dressing up as the only time they do that is for the fifth form pantomime.
Probably the best set since the originals?
I know I called the Nicola Slaters the ‘last set’ but these only came out in a box set and so aren’t included in the Cave of Books which I always refer to as the bible of Blyton’s editions.
Anyway, these are 2018 Hodder editions and I think they’re amazing. They are paperbacks but look as if they could be 1940s hardbacks. Not only that but they actually show scenes from the books instead of just random girls doing nothing.
All Hodder 2018
They were specially commissioned for The Book People, and come in a set of 12 with the Pamela Cox books. I believe the covers are by Ruth Palmer who did the Famous Five for Grown Ups but I don’t know if there are internal illustrations, nor can I find an image of Last Term. They are £17 for the set which is a great price (RRP is £83.88 which is just stupid for books specially done for The Book People!), but I can’t really justify it just to find out those bits of information. If I was going to buy Malory Towers paperbacks for a child today it would definitely be these editions, though, and there’s also a St Clare’s box set.
All Hodder 2018
If Hodder can do this for Malory Towers and St Clare’s why can’t all Enid Blyton’s books get new but equally lovely covers? The Famous Five are lucky enough to still get the Eileen Soper covers reused at least some of the time, but new vintage-style covers for other books would be brilliant. If they still appeal to children (and they must or these wouldn’t have been produced) then why bother with all the ugly cartoon covers?
And finally, a look into the future
Hodder are releasing a new set of 12 books with new covers at some point this year, with covers by Pippa Curnick. Despite being set in the 40s with steam trains these are still very modern and cartoony.
All unknown probably 2019
There you have it, Malory Towers covers from 1946 to the future. What were your favourites?
I like vintage or vintage-looking covers. Cartoon ones just don’t look Blytonish.
I agree. I think I judge Blyton covers more harshly too – if I saw a book by a current author with modern cartoonish covers it wouldn’t bother me!
I find it reassuring that you liked the 2018 covers, which do hark back to those long gone crazy days when cover illustrations were expected to feature some aspect of the story inside the book!
My main reason for stopping by to comment, though, is to point out that the cartoon covers on the 2006 Egmont editions might have a simple explanation: Egmont was, at that time, a comics publisher, which might be why they have gone for a comics illustration (what you describe as a “cartoon” looks to me very much like a scene from a modern kids’ comic).
Perhaps surprising but I don’t hate everything, even if it sounds like it sometimes!
That’s interesting about Egmont being a comics publisher, I didn’t know that. It does seem likely that they stuck with their usual style, though most publishers have gone cartoony at some point since 2000.
They do publish Asterix and Tintin.
In 1987, part of the comics holdings of IPC Magazines Ltd (namely all the comics and characters created after 1st January 1970, plus 26 specified characters then appearing in ”Buster”) were placed in a separate company, Fleetway Publications. Fleetway was then sold to Egmont UK Ltd. So Egmont was thereafter the actual owner of all the British comics which were published under the name Fleetway. You’ve maybe never heard of Egmont, but if you had any interest in British comics as a kid, you’re probably familiar with the name Fleetway. Thus Egmont’s interest in comics is not a recent thing. On the whole, their cartoon covers for the Malory Towers books are preferable to photorealistic images of 21st century kids in puffer jackets and other absurdly modern kit.
Hi! I grew up with the 2006 covers so I spent a long time looking over them and lining them up with the girls. The first term pictures Darrell, you’re right. But the second form is Belinda, the art whizz, and the third is Bill and Thunder, you’re right. The Upper Fourth is indeed Ruth and Connie, and I always thought that the girl on In The Fifth is Gwen, since the hair and smirk matches. As for Last Term, the two girls pictured are Darrell (you can see the head girl badge) and her younger sister Felicity. I expect the fish was included due to Amanda, since she breaks the rules to swim in the sea.
Ah, see, in my head Belinda is blonde so I didn’t even consider her but as she is doodling that sort of makes sense. As does Darrell and Felicity. Thanks for the insight!