Biggles!

Capt. W.E. Johns died in 1968 but 40 + years on his books are very much sought after by a new generation of readers and by collectors.

Johns was the creator of not just the Biggles books but also the Gimlet; Worrals; and Steely books along with a series of Science-Fiction books.

This prolific writer of children’s fiction also included a number of adult fiction and non-fiction titles in his prodigious output.

For the collector the books to look out for are at the beginning and at the end of his writing career.

The early books, published by John Hamilton & Oxford University Press are very hard to find as are the books written by Johns towards the end of his lifetime; 1964-1968 and published by Hodder & Stoughton & Brockhampton Press. Such is the demand for these 1960’s works that Norman Wright in the U.K., with the permission of the Johns estate, is re-publishing many of these titles currently in limited editions of 300 copies.

As with all truly collectable books the most keenly sought items are first editions with original dust wrappers. The price for the harder to find titles is continually increasing. However the more common Dean & Sons editions, produced in vast quantities for the U.K. supermarket chains, are so common as to be almost worthless.

The ‘holy grail’ for most Biggles collectors is “The Camels are Coming” (John Hamilton) whilst amongst the last dozen or so titles published between 1964-1970 “Biggles and the Little Green God”; “Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea and “Biggles and the Noble Lord” prove very elusive for most collectors.

One of the reasons why Biggles has cemented himself in the hearts and minds of Australian readers is the long-running Australian produced and immensely popular radio serial,” The Air Adventures of Biggles”. Many a Biggles collector became addicted to the books after being first exposed to our ‘flying hero’ and his chums in the radio serial.

Further information on both the Biggles books and the radio serial can be obtained by contacting bill.mclennan@thebookcollector.com

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