The Magic Faraway Tree covers through the years

I was looking for something reasonably un-taxing to write this week, and decided that as the Faraway Tree series only has three books (well, four if you include Up the Faraway Tree which is a different format, but even so that only has three editions so hardly adds any complications) so I’m hoping it does prove to be more straight-forward than some of the ones I’ve done.

The ones I’ve done previously are:

The Famous Five, parts one and two
The Adventure Series, parts one and two
The Secret Series
Malory Towers, parts one and two
St Clare’s, parts one and two
The Barney Mysteries
Mr Galliano’s Circus
The Naughtiest Girl
The Five Find-Outers

So now for the Faraway Tree covers!

The classic first editions

Despite there being perhaps slightly longer gaps between books (there are seven years between the first and third books, and twelve years between the first and fourth), and the fourth book being a strip-book put together from Sunny Stories content, all the first editions were illustrated by Dorothy M. Wheeler.

George Newnes, 1939, 1943, 1946 and 1951.

A really long gap

If you thought 3-5 years between the books above was bad, well, the first time these books were republished was in 1971! Yes, a whopping thirty-two years after The Enchanted Wood was published. I find that quite bizarre. The hardbacks were probably printed many times over – it was common to see 14th or 18th impressions of Blyton’s books in the late 60s, but over thirty years for a new edition seems a very long time. All the other series I’ve looked at had paperback editions by the mid-to-late 1960s, so even for The Secret Island which was out in 1938 had a shorter gap. Many series even had two hardback runs (some complete, some only for certain titles). Anyway, I’m getting off-track here.

The first new editions are from 1971, and so we skip the 1960s style artwork we’ve seen on so many Armada paperbacks, and go straight to Dean with a strong 1970s vibe from an uncredited artist.

The bold colours definitely give me a 70s feel, particularly the green/orange combo of The Enchanted Wood, then on The Magic Faraway Tree I swear there’s a discrete flare to those jeans!

Dean 1971, 1971 and 1972

Mind you Up the Faraway Tree, the fourth book, had to wait until 1981 for its first new edition, which is when the other three got their second. The 1981 editions are from Beaver with covers from Gerry Embleton, who has given Moon-Face a literal moon for a face. I think he was called Moon-Face because his head/face were very round, but not an actual moon. He certainly doesn’t have a moon for a face on the first edition covers, or in any of the internal illustrations, but you can’t always trust illustrators. Both Embleton and Rene Cloke have given Silky wings, and then there’s the infamous back-to-front telescope from Eileen Soper… but I’m getting off-topic again. Moon-Faced or not, he’s a bit of a creepy specimen.

These are, to me, instantly recognisable as being for the Faraway Tree series but that’s perhaps its the cover I most often see for the fourth book.

Beaver 1978, 1978, 1978 and 1981.

Janet, Anne and Georgina

The first ‘complication’ of this series, is that three editions had two different illustrators. The The Enchanted Wood’s 1978, 1985 and 2001 Dean editions were by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone (twin sisters, who as far as I have seen were always credited together on Blyton’s books – this is backed up by Wikipedia). The Magic Faraway Tree and The Folk of the Faraway Tree had Dean editions come out within a few years of these, using a similar style but with Georgina Hargreaves as the artist.

Janet Grahame Johnstone died in 1979, and although it is said that her sister Anne fulfilled all outstanding contracts alone, despite never having worked alone before, she did not work on any more Faraway Tree editions. Perhaps there was not a contract in place at the time, and she chose not to take on any new ones in the first few years after the loss of her sister.

What’s interesting is that none of the covers are not the same, they are not even a close-up or cropped piece of the same work, they are three entirely different pieces of artwork. So either Janet and Anne submitted more than one cover and some were used later, or they are taken from the internal illustrations.

Georgina Hargreaves’ covers are reused, but not each time. Her 1981 and 1985 covers of The Magic Faraway Tree use the same artwork but cropped for the second one, but the 2011 edition is different. All three editions are from the same work for The Folk of the Faraway Tree.

All these editions, I believe, are called ‘Deluxe’ editions, I think referring to the full-page and full-colour illustrations inside, also by Georgina Hargreaves (and presumably the Johnstone sisters for The Enchanted Wood). All are quite large books, too, somewhere around a4 size, even so, it’s a shame that the most recent ones have reduced the cover art to a small square.


Familiar territory

The next Dean editions came in 1990, with a hardback style that was used on many series and stand-alone titles. I don’t have a better name for these than ‘colour border’, though it’s interesting that sometimes little bits of the square image escape their boundaries.

These were by another uncredited artist. What’s strange to me, is that the first two are quite dull and generic at first glance. They’re just some kids in the woods. The second looks rather like Hollow Tree House, while the first could be any adventure. It’s only on a closer look that you see there are a couple of fairies in them. And then the third, well, that’s a brightly-coloured scene from a dream, perhaps even a nightmare!

All Dean 1990.

Here’s a close-up so you can appreciate the sudden change of direction.

Despite there only being three/four books in the series, that still turned out to be more complex, or at least, more wordy than I had anticipated. I think it’s best if I return for a part two later, instead of making this post two or three thousand words long.

Have you seen any of your favourite covers yet?

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1 Response to The Magic Faraway Tree covers through the years

  1. Zezee says:

    I’m very happy to have found this website. For years, I’ve been trying to remember which of Enid Blyton’s books were my favorites as a kid (I now think it was the Wishing Chair ones, but I’ll need to reread them to make sure) and am trying to recall the covers of the editions I read as a kid too (I’d like to collect them if I can), so I appreciate this post. I know I read the Magic Faraway Tree books as a kid. Those 1970 covers seem familiar, and although I read them in the early 90s, it’s possible those are the ones I read. My local library from back then had really old books. But I also remember borrowing some of these books from friends too. The Georgina Hargreaves covers also look familiar, so maybe those were the editions I borrowed from friends.

    Liked by 1 person

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