When I was growing up, The Famous Five was the one series of books that I read over and over again. Even now, I will occasionally go back and read a few of them. I still get a huge kick out of watching them solve their mysteries, and they’re fun to read.
As a child, it was a long time before I would actually read them. I had this idea that if something was popular, I was going to avoid it (which explains why it took me so long to read Harry Potter or buy an iPod). It’s not something I always believe now, thankfully.
The first time I ever read a Famous Five book, I was in Cornwall. I’d read all the books I’d taken with me, and we’d stopped in a little charity shop. I can’t remember the specifics surrounding the purchase, but I do remember agreeing to give it a go.
The book in question was Five on a Hike Together, and to my horror now (as I no longer have it) I think it was a very early edition, possibly even first. As soon as I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I ended up with them all and that was that.
So it was very apt that I found this collection of old edition Famous Five books whilst in Cornwall, in one of the very places I stayed as a child. We stopped in at the oddest little charity shop I had ever seen and Alice found them, knowing I was interested in children’s books. Bought all 7, and now kind of wish I could find the rest in a similar style to make it complete, particularly as my favourite (Five Run Away Together) wasn’t among them.
I love everything about them. The imperfections. The differences. The gorgeous hardback covers. How previous owners have written their names in, and ticked the books off.
One has the original sticker in it from when it was sold and has a lovely message from a grandmother. Each one has something about the Famous Five club which sounds brilliant. Five Get Into a Fix even has a little illustration on the front.
And oh the illustrations! They are gorgeous! Some have colour, one book has a colour plate in the front. They’re just so bloody lovely. I’m so happy I found them, and hopefully one day I’ll find the rest!
Here they are in all their glory!
Five Go off to Camp, Hodder & Stoughton, 4th Impression, 1951
Five Get Into Trouble, Hodder & Stoughton, 6th Impression, 1955
Five Have a Wonderful Time, Hodder & Stoughton, 4th Impression 1956
Five Go to Smugglers Top, Hodder & Stoughton, 11th Impression, 1957
Five Have Plenty of Fun, Hodder & Stoughton, 4th Impression, 1959
Five on Finniston Farm, Hodder & Stoughton, 1960
Five Get Into a Fix, Hodder & Stoughton, 5th Impression, 1966