I have a confession to make – I just bought my SIXTH copy of Five on a Treasure Island! This might seem slightly barmy, but bear with me, and I’ll try to explain why.
I think it makes sense to talk you through each of the editions in chronological order from when I acquired them. I will also talk a little bit about the condition of the books – I’ve based my judgement on some good old Googling, but I am in no way an expert. So with that disclaimer, here goes…
My first copy of FOATI was bought for me for my birthday in 1992, and is treasured for purely sentimental value – it bears the inscription “Happy 8th Birthday, love from Mum and Dad” and was my first introduction to the Famous Five. The copy I have is a two-in-one book which also includes Five Go Adventuring Again”. It is a well-thumbed 1991 Knight paperback edition similar to this one:
There are a few textual changes (as you can see from the cover, the children are wearing very 90s outfits!), and no pictures inside, so I’m sure you can see why it would be treasured for mainly sentimental reasons!
I have almost the full set of Famous Fives in those Knight paperback editions. I was content with those for many years, until I started finding older editions and wondering why they were different. My interest piqued, when I moved to the UK at the end of 2011, I sought out some answers (and some fellow fans!) and joined the EnidBlytonSociety.
So the next copy I bought was some time in 2011:
I bought this one for two reasons – first, I liked the cover, which is a copy of Eileen Soper’s orginal illustrations. The second was that I wanted to participate in a readathon on the Enid Blyton Society forum! I felt that the cover was misleading, in a way, as inside there were a few textual changes – right from almost the first page where they are putting luggage in the trunk (luggage hole in the original text). I don’t think it was my best buy – I don’t even think I offered any insights in the forum discussion! However, at only a few pounds from WHSmith, it didn’t really matter.
A few months later, I decided to buy yet another copy! This time I was insprired by the 70th anniversary editions, which had cover illustrations by a range of modern children’s book illustrators. I’ve always loved the way Quentin Blake illustrated Roald Dahl’s books, and I was interested in seeing his interpretation of the cover of FOATI.
I liked it – controversial, I know! I think what I liked most was the way that he had paid homage to Eileen Soper’s original illustration, without compromising his own unique style (which I happen to like). I also enjoy the juxtaposition of the edgy, modern drawing with such treasured classic story.
When I moved back to New Zealand, I stayed for a while at my sister’s house. She has all my childhood books in storage at her place, and I discovered I had a 1954 11th edition in quite good condition, but sadly with no dust jacket. I can’t for the life of me remember how I acquired that one though!
I then bought a full set of Famous Five books from a NZ online auction site. The books were all different editions, but they were all very early editions, including some firsts and some with reasonable dust jackets. It was a very exciting day when they arrived! The copy of FOATI included in this lot was actually not one of the better buys – it was a 1956 12th edition, in only fair condition, with no dust jacket.
I’m not sure I will keep either of these two (the 11th and the 12th editions), as they don’t hold any sentimental value, and are not in pristine condition or have the lovely dust jackets on them.
And finally, my most recent purchase is a beautiful 1951 8th edition, in good condition with a fair dust jacket. I bought this through an online auction site, and was very pleased with it. I tried to take a photo, but without much success. So you’ll just have to imagine a slightly dog-eared version of this:
So that’s it – my 6 copies of Five on a Treasure Island. Am I mad? Perhaps! I’m sure there must be others out there that have many copies of the same book, though….