So far this book seems to have had minimal editing, which is a pleasant surprise. Shall we see if that continues?
I am comparing the first edition (Lutterworth Press, 1947) to an omnibus edition containing four of the six books (Egmont, 2014).
CHAPTER FIVE: BELINDA WAKES UP EARLY
I only found two edits in this chapter. Waked me is changed to woken me. As far as I can tell waken is still correct but it does sound a bit odd as it isn’t used much these days. I can imagine kids nowadays using it would be ‘corrected’ quickly to day woke/woken.
The other change is another gay being changed to bright.
Interestingly there are still horse-drawn boats in the new book – surely things like that make modernising other parts completely pointless? I’ve seen horse-drawn boats on Great Canal Journeys, but they are a tourist attraction, a novelty, not a regular way for goods to be transported down canals!
CHAPTER SIX : A MOST IMPORTANT LESSON
A little more is edited here – with a fair bit of text lost.
Belinda helped Mummy to wash up. This was very easy, because all that had to be done was to rinse the dishes in the canal. Here the entire second sentence is removed. I imagine they thought it was dirty and unhygienic to use canal-water to wash dishes in. I’d say it’s what they’d do in the 50s, just like having horses pull your boat so why not just leave well enough alone?
Also removed entirely is the following passage:
“We don’t need to change into bathing-suits, because we’ve got our sun-suits on already!” said Belinda, capering about the deck in her little red woolly sun-suit. “We can go into the water and come out and dry ourselves in the sun, Mummy. We shall be dry in a couple of minutes, it’s so hot.”
Now woolly sun-suits are very out-dated, I will concede. But as above it seems silly to leave some truly old-fashioned elements and remove others. If they had to update this I don’t see why she couldn’t have said because we’ve got them on already, and the have Belinda’s described as her little red swimming costume or words to that effect, rather than losing a whole paragraph.
Sticking with the swimming theme, a bathe is updated to a swim and Daddy’s bathing drawers become swimming trunks.
CHAPTER SEVEN : ANN HAS A DREADFUL SHOCK
The only thing to be changed in this chapter is the name of Ann’s doll. In the original he is Black Sambo, and so I don’t think many people would have a problem with that being changed. The doll becomes a female called Stella. It would have been nice if she had kept it as a boy doll called Sammy or something though, just to minimise the difference.
CHAPTER EIGHT : WHAT HAPPENED TO BEAUTY
And absolutely nothing was touched in this chapter, that has to be a first!?
And yet they leave in what is surely a bit of animal cruelty which would normally be quickly removed. The horse that pulls the Happy Ted is so exhausted he walks straight into the canal and hurts himself. And nobody bats an eyelid, other than to say he will have to have a rest for a few days. I’m amazed this got left in to be honest, rather than having the horse stand on a nail or have some other unavoidable accident that would have had the same result.
I make that another eight, though some of these have been bigger than previous ones. That makes 18 altogether.