Now I know that this is a site dedicated to Enid Blyton, and a lot of you are probably thinking “who on earth is David Morton? He’s not from Blyton!” but occasionally, an author or character comparison from another author may pop up.
For those of you who can’t place him David Morton is from Malcolm Saville‘s Lone Pine series. The Lone Pine Series was first published in 1943, four years into the war (Blyton’s first Famous Five book Five on Treasure Island, was published a year earlier in 1942). The format for the Lone Pine series is similar to the Famous Five.
With the time line established, for me, its only natural to look beyond Blyton’s other characters and look for comparisons to Julian elsewhere. David Morton, a similar boy in a similar position as Julian seems to be a top candidate for the job!
There are a few points I think I need to highlight before I go into this any deeper.
1. Although Saville didn’t intend to let the children age, towards the end of the series the older Lone Pine characters age, and even form romantic attachments. Blyton’s characters did not age.
2. Both wrote their scenery based on places they had visited, however Malcolm Saville actually wrote about real places that have been mapped and detailed.
3. I am looking at the boys’ similarities despite two different authors, as they appear to be the type of male characters that were popular from the 1940s up until about the 1970s.
Some of you regular readers will remember that I wrote a piece on why we shouldn’t compare Julian Kirrin and Frederick Algernon Trotterville (another of Blyton’s well-loved characters), which can be found here. This time I’m hope you’ll join me in comparing Julian and David Morton.
Almost from the moment I started reading the Lone Pine series, I was drawing comparisons to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventures. In a way the Lone Pine adventures are much more complex and thrilling than some of the Five’s but both have a sense of charm to them. One thing about the Lone Pine series was that Malcolm Saville did write about the war, basing the characters in situations where they had to observe the blackout, lack of fuel, and rationing whereas Blyton’s Famous Five were devoid of references to the war, rationing and so on, because she had intended them to be a form of escapism for children.
Now for the characters. We are almost immediately introduced to David John Morton in the Lone Pine series, in a similar way that Julian is the first character in the Famous Fives to speak and be introduced properly. We find out pretty quickly that both boys are the eldest child out of three. Julian is the eldest out of Dick and Anne and David is older than the twins Mary and Dickie.
They are natural leaders for the groups of adventurers they lead. David’s leadership is almost thrust upon him in the first adventure Mystery at Witchend where Petronella, his new friend, and the twins tell him that he ought to be in charge. When more Lone Piners join the adventures, David is no longer the eldest in the group but remains the leader; there are some challenges to his leadership occasionally but every one of the Lone Pine members knows that David’s word is pretty much final.
When it comes to Julian’s leadership of the Famous Five, it isn’t a spoken agreement that he should take charge like David, his role as leader is more assumed because in relation to the other members of the five he is the oldest, being a year older than his brother, Dick, and cousin, George, and two years older than his sister Anne. Julian’s authority isn’t challenged as much as David’s is. Dick sometimes tries to out flank his brother, but not too often and Julian regains control pretty quickly. As a point of interest I draw your attention to the two major TV series of the Famous Five, in the 1970s and 1990s, where the relationships between the brothers are translated on to screen as the boys having more rivalry and fighting for leadership over the Five. In the books, this rivalry isn’t quite as well-defined.
From almost the first moment we meet David and Julian they are subtly pushed into leadership roles, their places in the books are set and recognised.
We meet David on a station, in charge of the Morton’s luggage while they change trains. The last meeting with his father is key to his feelings at this point when he keenly remembers that his father told him to look after his mother and the twins. Already David is taking on responsibilities that are in a way beyond his years. He has to help his mother now that his father has left and has no choice in the matter.
Julian’s leadership is a much more subtle affair. At the beginning of Five on a Treasure Island he is the first character to speak, asking his parents whether they will be attending their usual summer holiday destination. It can be interpreted as leadership, and assumed leadership because of the natural progression of the conversation. Also we are told that he is the oldest when Dick talks about the relevant ages of the three Kirrins in comparison to their cousin Georgina. Julian is said to be 12, Dick and George 11, and Anne is 10.
For me these openings and introductions cement the two boys as leaders for the rest of the series, and once David gets away from organising luggage, both boys appear and become natural leaders: they are both old enough and have a feeling of responsibility about them that allows adults to trust them and their orders to be followed.
Some differences between the boys arise when you look at the series they belong to. For a start, David gets to move beyond age 16 all the way to a mature young man of the age of 18. Julian progresses from the age of 12 to 16 over the course of the first six books written by Blyton, but from then on his age isn’t mentioned as the Famous Five series was supposed to finish after six books.
In many ways Julian matches David for maturity, and right up until the last few books of the Lone Pine series, David has the same thirst for adventures that Julian does. After Not Scarlet but Gold, David’s desire to get involved with adventures is quelled somewhat with his advancing age and the romantic attachment he develops (I shan’t spoil the books for you by telling you who it is with!) This is when the similarities between David and Julian start to wane, and David seemingly develops a larger emotional spectrum than his Blytonian counter-part.
Then it comes down to the other members of the Famous Five and the Lone Pine. David has a lot to deal with, being leader of such a large group of friends. Keeping them all under orders and control is hard especially when they split up in the middle of an adventure. Often his little brother and sister a.k.a the Twins end up in some very dangerous trouble and need to be rescued. He also has to deal with some very determined girls who don’t always make his decisions easy during adventures.
Julian has to deal with a sulky George; and we all know how George can fly off the handle! Julian and George can both be extremely stubborn and hot-headed on occasion, but Julian knows how to handle George and her moods. I’m never particularly convinced that any other character of Blyton’s let alone any other author’s lead character could handle George with as much skill as Julian does. There is no way that David Morton would be able to handle George.
As it stands these two boys are seemingly the typical lead male protagonists of the time. They bear many similarities even though they have been written by two different authors with two different styles.
For me it’s hard to choose between them, and who is my favourite, although when examining it closely I have to admit that it’s still Julian who holds the record as my favourite. Julian was really the first Blyton character, or character ever for that matter, to capture my imagination and stay so firmly rooted in my mind. He is my childhood in a way, whereas I didn’t discover David until my mid-teens and even though I love his character and his story as much as I do Julian’s, plus the added bonus of seeing him grow up, there is no way he can possibly push Julian off his perch.
So those are my thoughts on David John Morton and Julian Kirrin. If you’ve read the Lone Pine series, then please feel free to let me know your thoughts below, if not, they come highly recommended by me.
Happy reading everyone!