The Naughtiest Girl in the School: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? Part 6

There are only four chapters left so this should be the final part! Part one looked at chapters 1-4, part 2 chapters 5-8 here, part 3 chapters 9-12, part 4 chapters 13-16 and part 5 was chapters 17-20.

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.


This is a good example of why I hate title case. Why doesn’t arrives get a capital!?

Enid goes a bit queer mad in this chapter and naturally they are all changed. (They didn’t even miss one like in chapter 10). There are four queers and one queerly. Queerly becomes strangely, one queer becomes odd and the rest become strange (as in previous chapters). Again, not exactly widening the vocabulary which is one common criticism of Blyton’s frequent use of queer.

Italics are removed once, from She thought you had sent her those presents. The line makes almost so sense without the emphasis on you. It is all about how Joan thought her mother (the ‘you’ referred to) had sent the presents and was wrong.

The two strange little changes for no apparent reason (maybe the editor was bored). She’s asleep is changed to She is asleep, and I was so very sorry becomes I was so sorry. Neither change the meaning, though the loss of very removes a little of the original flavour.

Lastly one (or two depending on how you count it) corrections are made. In my copy Harry exclaims sin surprie which is amended to in surprise. I wonder how many editions/impressions that mistake appears in?

Despite various attempts to update this book the school still has maids.


I’m not a fan of all caps but it has to be better than random uncapitalized words like talks. If it’s always Five Go and Five Get why on earth isn’t it Rita Talks? (I’ll stop now).

Little of consequence is changed in this chapter.

The original has an usual partial italics of a word – exactly – which is changed to exactly. After all the italics they have removed it seems odd to see them adding some now.

The one instance of queer becomes odd.

References to the pound and that pound become the ten pounds and that ten pounds respectively.

An arm-chair becomes an armchair.

And lastly the construction of one sentence is changed. I have to admit the original is a little odd. It reads Rita and I are the judges of what can be told the Meeting. I have seen similar structures where you feel like a word is missing but that’s usually in local dialects. It could have been altered to read what can be told at/to the meeting, but the editor has made it Rita and I are the judges of what the Meeting can be told.

The last illustration is in this chapter, and here’s how it compares to the scene in the original.


Ok, so fights, not Fights?

The only changes this chapter are more removal of italics. They go from Oh yes I do and will change my mind.

That second one comes after

But am I really so silly? Am I really so feeble? Can I really spoil my happiness here… No I can’t! I’m stronger than I thought. I can change my mind.

So will change my mind fitted perfectly. I have no idea why they removed the italics there.


Again some italics are removed, this time from: What are you doing?, Mrs Allen was very much astonished and she will be the best girl in the school.

And lastly, Elizabeth’s dorm which she says is number 6 becomes number six.


That was the last chapter but the paperback doesn’t end there.

There is a timeline of Blyton’s life, though as it only runs to two pages it isn’t very detailed or comprehensive, and a few photos. Then there is a couple of ‘chapters’ about Enid as a writer, followed by an extract of What they did at Miss Brown’s school, which appears in 12 parts in Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year.

Apparently the next book in the series, The Naughtiest Girl Again also contains information about Enid’s writing career and more of Miss Brown’s school.

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

Queer to odd/strange

Unique changes:

Sin surprie to in surprise
She’s to she is
So very sorry to so sorry
What can be told the meeting

Total this post: 4

Over all total: 45

Where does that place in the updating ranks?

I have written a comparison of all the books I had done before this one, so here’s how this book would fit in.

By total changes:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School 45
  • The Secret Island  59
  • The Twins at St Clare’s  83
  • Five on a Treasure Island  117
  • The Island of Adventure 128
  • First Term at Malory Towers 133
  • The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage 187

Per chapter:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School 1.8
  • The Secret Island 3
  • The Twins at St Clare’s 4
  • The Island of Adventure 4.5
  • First Term at Malory Towers 6
  • Five on a Treasure Island 7
  • The Mystery of The Burnt Cottage 10

And based on word count:

  • The Naughtiest Girl in the School 55,000 words and an edit per 1,214 words.
  • The Secret Island 63,000 words and an edit per 1,062 words.
  • The Twins at St Clare’s 55,000 words and an edit per 662 words.
  • The Island of Adventure 68,000 words and an edit per 531 words.
  • Five on a Treasure Island 51,000 words and an edit per 435 words.
  • First Term at Malory Towers retains 49,500 words and an edit per 372 words.
  • The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage 43,500 words and an edit per 232 words.

The numbers aren’t the only factor

I would like to applaud this book for being so lightly edited. However the edits that are there are equal parts baffling and frustrating.

The money, as you will have guessed from my lengthy rants, is idiotic. Firstly there was no real need to decimalise it. Secondly, if decimalisation was deemed absolutely necessary then it has to be both sensible and consistent. It was neither.

One shilling has been equal to twenty pence, forty pence, fifty pence, one pound, two pounds fifty and goodness knows how many other amounts depending on the whims of the editor.

One pound has bought a present for someone’s gran, two pounds has bought a red handbag and five pounds is wanted for an expensive spade.

Ten pounds is far too much money to spend in one afternoon and a huge waste.

It’s completely idiotic, the whole lot of it. And so I can’t be particularly pleased that they’ve left most of the book alone when they have mangled the bits they did touch.

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