The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 5


Part one looked at chapters 1-4, part 2 chapters 5-8 here, part 3 chapters 9-12 and part 4 was chapters 13-16.

I am comparing the 1944 5th reprint by George Newnes (which should be more or less identical to the true first edition) to a 2012 edition by Hodder and Stoughton.


Chapter XVII Elizabeth has a Secret / CHAPTER SEVENTEEN ELIZABETH HAS A SECRET

Whew, lots of money is mentioned in this chapter. If you are already tired of my lengthy rants about converting shillings to pounds then I suggest you skip to the next chapter!

Elizabeth gets a pound-note from her Uncle Rupert, and that becomes a ten-pound note. 

“Twenty shillings !” said Elizabeth, in surprise. “Two hundred and forty pence! Ooooh! is obviously changed too. It’s now “Ten pounds!” said Elizabeth, in surprise. “Ooooh!” Well, it would have seemed odd for her to say “Ten pounds! A thousand pence!”, wouldn’t it?

Twice the original says A whole pound! and both times it becomes A whole ten-pound note! The whole seems a bit much for just £10.

A pound then would have been ten times the weekly school pocket money of two shillings – a whole terms’ worth of money. Ten pounds is five times her weekly pocket money, so essentially she gets half as much in the new book.

When Elizabeth asks for prices on the cakes in the bakery she is told “They are two shillings and sixpence, five shillings, or for the very big one with candles on, and the name, ten shillings.” This is changed to “One pound fifty, two pounds or… five pounds.”

I think that should really be two pounds fifty, five pounds and ten pounds. But as they’ve only given her ten pounds they’ve had to make the pricing structure really odd. I freely admit I’m not well-versed in the prices of cakes (or much else) in the 1940s, but as Blyton wrote them at the time I’m assuming they are reasonably accurate. They may be prices she was paying in the posh parts of town, or she may have been aware and reduced them to reflect a more average price, I don’t know. I just know that £5 for a cake to feed a whole school – even a small school like Whyteleaf – is pure and utter nonsense. It wouldn’t even cover the ingredients.

Elizabeth gets ten shillings change in the bakery which is now five pounds change, so at least they can count.

Later five shillings is swapped for one pound. Yet again if two shillings pocket money is two pounds, how is a five shilling book now one pound? And how can twenty shillings equal ten pounds? Not to mention how anyone could go to a bookshop and order in a brand-new book for one pound in 2012.

They are a little more consistent later; with four shillings left being four pounds left and sixpence becoming fifty pence.

However that four pounds buys a red bag, red comb, and handkerchief fand leaves the fifty pence left over to put inside. And no, she didn’t shop in a charity shop or Poundland.

Further consistency in Elizabeth’s pound being ten pounds means they really over-egg the ‘whole’ ten pounds and how much ten pounds is. Apparently it’s an awful lot to spend all at once (it’s really not) and whatever could you have spent ten pounds on in such a little time? It’s a real waste of money (a book? a DVD? a game? there are many things that ten pounds could buy and would not be a waste of money) Whole ten pounds is also used again, but the reference to twenty shillings isn’t replaced.

It’s not just a straightforward problem with the numerical value of the money. Yes, a pound in the early 40s could have bought two Famous Five hardbacks with five shillings left over while ten pounds in 2012 would have bought one novel with perhaps £3-4 left. However, it’s the fact that so many children would have had to save and save to buy one Famous Five book. They weren’t an insignificant purchase for working class families. A pound would have been worth even more than twenty pounds in 2012.


CHAPTER XVIII Joan’s Wonderful Birthday / CHAPTER EIGHTEEN JOAN’S WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY

Very little in this chapter. Uncle Rupert’s pound is again his ten-pound note.

Italics are removed from two phrases – she was so surprised and I can see how happy you are, but are left in all the other instances.

There is an illustration in this chapter, though! Here’s how it compares to the original.


CHAPTER XIV Joan gets a Shock/ CHAPTER NINETEEN JOAN GETS A SHOCK

Again very little changed here.

A whole pound is still being overdone as a whole ten pounds, and the italics are removed from I couldn’t eat anything. 


CHAPTER XX More Trouble! / CHAPTER TWENTY MORE TROUBLE!

Only two changes here. A pound! Twenty shillings – spent in one afternoon becomes Ten pounds! Ten pounds – spent in one afternoon. If there was anywhere italics should have been removed it would have been on the pounds there. Ten pounds, makes no sense. What would she have spent? Ten pence?

I think the editor is trying to make as few changes as possible, with the result that it actually makes less sense than a few judicious extra changes.

Something else that wasn’t changed was that Elizabeth smudged her letter every time she stopped. That’s not so common now with ball points and biros, but you had to be very careful with a fountain pen.


The count

Already counted:

Roman numerals to words
Case change for chapter titles
Removal of hyphens from good-bye, to-day, etc
Removal of italics for emphasis
Extra word capitalised at start of chapter
Quotation marks
Dash length
Two shillings = two pounds

Unique changes:

A pound = a ten pound note (slightly different from previous chapter where a pound was just ten pounds).
Two hundred and forty pence removed
Two shillings sixpence = one pound fifty
Five shillings = two pounds
Ten shillings = five pounds
Twenty shillings removed

I haven’t counted any money changes that match the basic 1 shilling = 1 pound. So sixpence = 50p etc.

Total this post: 6

Over all total: 41

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2 Responses to The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 5

  1. In old BBC radio shows, money is occasionally mentioned. I noticed a few references in radio comedies of the 1960s to the price of beer. I know the Five Find Outers don’t drink much beer! But the illustration is still an interesting comparison, even bearing in mind that the comparison doesn’t go back quite as far as the 1940s.

    Beer is cited as costing 1/7d a pint (one and sevenpence is nineteen pennies) in a 1965 radio episode, “It’s A Knockout” (an edition of “The Clitheroe Kid”, broadcast in January 1965). 5 years later, beer is mentioned as costing 2/- a pint (two shillings is 24 pennies), i.e. 10p in new money, according to Grandad in an edition of ‘The Clitheroe Kid’ called “Good For Money”, broadcast in 1970.

    In 2019 Amazon.com was selling some of its cheaper beers at £1.50 a pint, which is 15 times as much as the 10p price in 1970. This suggests that inflation since 1970 makes £1 in 1970 equal to £15 today.

    I’ve seen references in old movies to beer costing about 6d a pint in the 1940s. That compares to two shillings a pint in 1970, i.e. the price was four times as much in 1970. This makes one pound in 1940 the equivalent of four pounds in 1970.

    The maths is therefore £1 (1940) x 4 (1970) x 15 (2019) = £60 today.

    That price of sixpence a pint in 1940, which has become £1.50 a pint today, means that £1 in 1940 is the equivalent of £60 today.

    My references to ‘The Clitheroe Kid’ are genuine quotes from that radio comedy show, which I imagine were correct at the time of broadcast. I can’t for certain recall the 1940s film in which I saw beer being sold at sixpence a pint, but it might have been ‘Band Wagon’ starring Arthur Askey, filmed in 1941.

    I think there is a reference to the price of beer in a pub scene in the tv series ‘Dads Army’, which was set in 1940, in the tv episode ‘Don’t Forget the Diver’. But that was filmed in 1972/73, and so might not be completely accurate.

    Like

    • fiona says:

      It’s so complicated, isn’t it. Different products have increased at different rates, but it’s safe to say that £60 seems a lot more reasonable for all that Elizabeth bought for Joan’s birthday.

      Like

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