So Just Who Was Biggles? Biggles first appeared in book form in 1932 when "The Camels Are Coming" was published by John Hamilton. His 96th, and last, appearance, as written by Captain W E Johns, was in Biggles Sees Too Much, published in 1970. During that time there was hardly an inch of the earth's surface or air space that he had not covered.
Stella & Rose's Books were delighted to attend the 21st annual meeting of Biggles & Co - a group of enthusiasts who meet to celebrate the life and works of Captain W.E. Johns.
The event, held this year on Saturday 17th April 2010 at Lodden Hall, Twyford, is a wonderful opportunity for those who enjoy these books to get together and chat about Biggles, Gimlet, Worrals and all their chums... There is also a large number of quality books and artwork to browse and buy - a great chance to fill gaps in even the most comprehensive collection!
After arriving around 9am there was an hour to set up our stall and display all those Biggles books which we had carefully transported from our two shops. All went smoothly and, after a final check to ensure that Biggles was sufficiently presentable to meet his adoring public, the doors opened and the real business of the day started - meeting old & new friends, and exchanging views on our favourite literary hero.
Why collect the books of W.E. Johns? This is the question I find myself asking again after seven years of collecting. With the last of the main run of books being published in 1970 it is definitely not that I read them as a child and they bring back happy memories as I am not that old! Maybe it is fond memories of the 1985 Biggles film as I would have been at an age to be influenced by these things. Most certainly it is because I came to work in a bookshop, however I worked for Stella Books for three years before I started collecting.
What I do remember vividly is being drawn in by the design on the covers of some of the 1930s Biggles books, in particular the blue covers showing a bi-plane flying over palm trees and pyramids. My thinking at the time was "I want to read some of these books that I keep selling every day; stop 'wasting' money on paperback books and buy something which I will be able to resell, hopefully for at least what I paid for it".
As a rule I prefer to try and keep work and home life separate but as they say 'life is not that simple!'
When I first started working for Stella Books, some 15 years ago (seems like yesterday), I was employed to process the orders in the fast developing internet side of the business. Well, after a couple of years I developed a fondness for Biggles books when I was looking for something to read one afternoon. As is my way when I like an author, I wanted to read all of the books written by W.E. Johns, and so I started to buy the odd cheap reading copy and this somehow spiraled into a full-blown collecting habit (see my previous article!).
It was with much excitement, and a little trepidation, that we set off at 6.30 a.m. on the 20th October 2007 to Derby County Cricket Club with a car load of books by W.E. Johns. This was the first time we had attended the W.E. Johns Appreciation Day and, having never been to the venue before, we weren't sure what to expect. Upon arrival at 9.00 am the work really started - up with the book shelves, in with the books, give them a good old sort, and discover there is not quite enough space! But after about an hour all is set up and we are ready to go.