Biggles In The Jungle

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Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Anticlockwise Prop » 09 Nov 2017, 08:25

I have just started rereading “Biggles In The Jungle” and a couple of things have smacked me in the face. :crazypilot:

This book was first published in May 1942 (ie after WWII had started) but its set well before the war. In my copy of the book (much later than the true 1st edition), Ginger is described as ‘ Biggles protégé ’, but interestingly Biggles is described as ‘ Squadron-Leader Bigglesworth ’ and Algy as ‘ Captain the Honourable “Algy” Lacey ’. The use of the ranks Squadron-Leader and Captain to me is a little confusing being a mixture of RAF (after 1919) and the old RFC ranks. I know we have ‘lost’ Biggles (and Algy’s) service records for between the wars but in many of the books set in that period, Biggles was still described by his rank of Major.
Is this a case of later editors ‘refreshing’ the ranks in later editions of the book or did WEJ just forget what rank Biggles should have had? Can anyone with a 1st edition please confirm the ranks? :?:

I have noticed in my 1950 B. Defies The Swastika (1st pub 1941), Biggles is described as a Squadron-Leader, and in my 1952 B. In The Baltic (1st pub 1940) as a Major (Algy is a Captain). My 1951 B. Sees It Through (1st Pub 1941) has Biggles as a Squadron-Leader and Algy as Flight-Lieutenant.


Another thing I noted in “Biggles In The Jungle” is when describing Carruthers Biggles says he did him a good turn when he was British Vice-Consul of Bolivia. Presumably this good turn occurred when Biggles, Algy and Smyth passed through Bolivia as part of the “Biggles Fies Again” stories (see The Maid And The Mountains).

And WEJ had a go at a ‘Dad Joke’. Biggles is describing to Ginger what “Chicle” is and after it is explained that its the base for chewing-gum, Ginger responds with: “Sounds a sticky business to me.” Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!! :(
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Sizzling Sausages » 09 Nov 2017, 10:12

Well, I don't have a first edition but I have the 1944 Canadian edition, the 1945 'blue spine' one, the 1947 Australian edition and the 1963 Hampton Library version, and they all say exactly the same as you've said. :?

Regarding the others, my 1945 'blue spine' Swastika, 1941 reprint of Baltic and 1st (thin version) of Sees it Through have the same descriptions as yours as well.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Fairblue » 09 Nov 2017, 12:27

Just a thought. It might have been published in 1942 but when did WEJ write it?
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby kylie_koyote » 09 Nov 2017, 12:49

It has long been my opinion - without any facts to back me up - that WEJ wrote this one well before WW2 started, intending to publish it in its own natural course, but then the war started, and he had to shift gears and write war stories, and then "Jungle" was put aside for a time, to reappear later when the publishers could fit it in.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Wanderer » 09 Nov 2017, 13:03

Fairblue wrote:Just a thought. It might have been published in 1942 but when did WEJ write it?

I too speculate that (like In the South Seas) it may have been at least conceived pre-war as it follows the typical structure to be expected of a book intended to published as a serial in the by now defunct Modern Boy. I have a copy dated 1942 (it could be a first edition or an early reprint as it has a fairly narrow spine) and it also has Biggles as Squadron Leader, DSO and Ginger as "protégé", a term that appears to have lapsed after In Spain (by which time Ginger is a legal adult).

It also features the amphibian Wanderer that is from the description in the book a biplane of conceptually the same type as Explorer and Nemesis in earlier books, but all the illustrations show it as a rather odd-looking monoplane that looks like a Supermarine Scapa or Stranraer missing its upper wing - all very definitely pre-war. Then why did Biggles & Co. need to by the Scud for In the South Seas that they still own at the end of the war (Takes a Holiday)? So I think both In the Jungle and Charter Pilot (the latter appearing as a serial) were written after the war began, but both could well have been pre-war ideas that finally made It to paper.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Kismet » 09 Nov 2017, 13:27

Anticlockwise Prop wrote:I have noticed in my 1950 B. Defies The Swastika (1st pub 1941), Biggles is described as a Squadron-Leader, and in my 1952 B. In The Baltic (1st pub 1940) as a Major (Algy is a Captain). My 1951 B. Sees It Through (1st Pub 1941) has Biggles as a Squadron-Leader and Algy as Flight-Lieutenant.[/i]

(

Biggles et al are not in the RAF at the start of the Second World War: they are listening to the declaration of war on the very first page of the book in Baltic, so the ranks of Major and Captain are correct as they are the ranks they left the RFC holding. After that, Biggles should be a Squadron Leader and Algy a Flight Lieutenant, which are the equivalent ranks in the RAF.

I agree with Kylie, that Jungle was probably written inter-war. Perhaps a harassed and inexperienced proof reader noticed that Biggles should have changed from a Major to a Squadron Leader but didn't realise that Algy's rank should have changed as well (perhaps he thought he was in the army). The manuscript might have languished at a publisher' s rather than on the desk of WEJ, too.

Maybe Dr B has some correspondence that can enlighten us.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Fairblue » 09 Nov 2017, 14:00

Wanderer wrote:
Fairblue wrote:Just a thought. It might have been published in 1942 but when did WEJ write it?

I too speculate that (like In the South Seas) it may have been at least conceived pre-war as it follows the typical structure to be expected of a book intended to published as a serial in the by now defunct Modern Boy. I have a copy dated 1942 (it could be a first edition or an early reprint as it has a fairly narrow spine) and it also has Biggles as Squadron Leader, DSO and Ginger as "protégé", a term that appears to have lapsed after In Spain (by which time Ginger is a legal adult).



The legal age for a child to be deemed to have reached adulthood was 21 at that time, Wanderer. Assuming Ginger was 16 in Black Peril he would not have attained that age until 1939. The age of consent was not lowered in the UK to 18 until 1970.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Frecks » 09 Nov 2017, 17:06

Ginger is very young in South Seas and Jungle - very boyish and treated more like a child than an adult which makes me think the books were written much earlier with the intention of publishing them in the magazine for young readers. In South Seas Ginger and the two teenage natives are referred to collectively as "The kids" and Sandy says not to worry about him as Shell Breaker and Full Moon will take care of him and in Jungle he is dashing about after the "treasure" with an almost childish enthusiasm.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Wanderer » 09 Nov 2017, 23:27

Fairblue wrote:The legal age for a child to be deemed to have reached adulthood was 21 at that time, Wanderer. Assuming Ginger was 16 in Black Peril he would not have attained that age until 1939. The age of consent was not lowered in the UK to 18 until 1970.

I stand corrected :-) However it remains that In the Jungle must be set well pre-war. I think I've posted elsewhere that South Seas is most reasonably set late 1938-early 1939 and I think that in a "real world" chronology both In the Jungle and Charter Pilot are most reasonably set before that, based on the fact that they need a different aircraft for South Seas. Of course in W E Johns' universe we don't let a temporal inconsistency get in the way of a good story.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Fairblue » 09 Nov 2017, 23:39

Wanderer wrote:. Of course in W E Johns' universe we don't let a temporal inconsistency get in the way of a good story.


Of course not. Perish the thought. 8-)
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby DrBiggles » 10 Nov 2017, 01:07

In the first edition of "Biggles in the Jungle" Ginger is described as ‘ Biggles protégé ’ and Biggles is described as ‘ Squadron-Leader Bigglesworth ’ and Algy as ‘ Captain the Honourable “Algy” Lacey as outlined above.
I have no correspondence from the early 1940s but I do have a letter dated 28th September 193 which can be seen here
http://www.wejohns.com/Archive/001%20A% ... 8_9_39.jpg
This is the approach to Johns from A. P Watt that led to them becoming his literary agents - and advising him to move from Oxford to Hodder & Stoughton in order to get royalties. So assuming in 1940/41 Johns was in the process of
leaving Oxford, Jungle and Charter Pilots were the last of his contractual obligation to them. I too am convinced that Jungle was written before 1942 and the publication delayed to that year by paper shortages.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Kismet » 10 Nov 2017, 01:13

DrBiggles wrote:In the first edition of "Biggles in the Jungle" Ginger is described as ‘ Biggles protégé ’ and Biggles is described as ‘ Squadron-Leader Bigglesworth ’ and Algy as ‘ Captain the Honourable “Algy” Lacey as outlined above.
I have no correspondence from the early 1940s but I do have a letter dated 28th September 193 which can be seen here
http://www.wejohns.com/Archive/001%20A% ... 8_9_39.jpg
This is the approach to Johns from A. P Watt that led to them becoming his literary agents - and advising him to move from Oxford to Hodder & Stoughton in order to get royalties. So assuming in 1940/41 Johns was in the process of
leaving Oxford, Jungle and Charter Pilots were the last of his contractual obligation to them. I too am convinced that Jungle was written before 1942 and the publication delayed to that year by paper shortages.


Thank you Dr B
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Fairblue » 10 Nov 2017, 01:42

The rank of Major in the RFC became RAF Major on 1st April 1918 when the RAF was formed. On 31st August 1919, this was superceded by Squadron Leader. We know Biggles was known as Major Bigglesworth, presumably because RAF Major Bigglesworth would have been clumsy in the extreme. I don't know, because I can find no evidence to support or disprove this, if he could have called himself Squadron Leader Bigglesworth had he so chose. Technically, he never was a Squadron Leader until WW2, but as the RFC had become the RAF, and Squadron Leader the equivalent of Major, maybe he could.
But all this still doesn't explain the sudden change in style of address.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Sizzling Sausages » 10 Nov 2017, 02:49

I just had a look in the Johns biography but it doesn't help much either - all it says is, 'In May 1942 Oxford University Press published a pre-war Biggles adventure with a tropical setting, Biggles in the Jungle'.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby 266 » 11 Nov 2017, 04:21

Fairblue wrote:The rank of Major in the RFC became RAF Major on 1st April 1918 when the RAF was formed. On 31st August 1919, this was superceded by Squadron Leader. We know Biggles was known as Major Bigglesworth, presumably because RAF Major Bigglesworth would have been clumsy in the extreme. I don't know, because I can find no evidence to support or disprove this, if he could have called himself Squadron Leader Bigglesworth had he so chose. Technically, he never was a Squadron Leader until WW2, but as the RFC had become the RAF, and Squadron Leader the equivalent of Major, maybe he could.
But all this still doesn't explain the sudden change in style of address.


I've always assumed that he and Algy left the RAF before August 1919, which would mean they automatically retained the old ranks, and were not entitled to the new ones till they re-enlisted in 1939, in time for "Baltic." Which raises the age-old question, what did they do between 1919 and the next known adventure: "Condor" - dated by our forum historians as no earlier than 1932? The missing years...but a golden opportunity for fanfic.

"Jungle" would be chronologically prewar, regardless of publishing date. I can't imagine them getting time off from the war to take a south american holiday!

As for the aircraft, there are many inconsistencies across the books between description and illustration. The most frustrating is embodied in "Jungle" - where the aircraft is shown as a multi engined high wing monoplane, but described as a biplane. To complicate things further, the"Wanderer" also appears in "Charter Pilot" - where it appears to be single engined. Interestingly, these books - the only ones featuring the "Wanderer" - were both published during the war, but set beforehand. And with just two books and one aircraft, we still have anomalies!

If WEJ had either called the aircraft in "Jungle" the "Scud" instead of "Wanderer" (we would have had a much easier transition between aircraft - in both time and book sequence) - or made the Jungle Wanderer a very clear single engine biplane so that a link was maintained with the aircraft from "Charter Pilot" - then life would be a lot simpler. But as we know, WEJ delights in tormenting us. If not, then this forum would have a lot less to discuss!
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Frecks » 11 Nov 2017, 09:21

I think there was a pivotal moment in the book when there had been an attempt to sabotage the plane so WEJ might have invented the aircraft to suit the method of sabotage. If I remember rightly Biggles accused Ginger of being careless which is very strange since he was supposed to be an excellent ground engineer :? This again reinforces the idea that the book was actually set quite early on. There has also be some discussion elsewhere on the Forum about a previous expedition to this part of the Jungle with a date which did not quite tie in with the timeline.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby kylie_koyote » 11 Nov 2017, 14:14

Frecks wrote:I think there was a pivotal moment in the book when there had been an attempt to sabotage the plane so WEJ might have invented the aircraft to suit the method of sabotage. If I remember rightly Biggles accused Ginger of being careless which is very strange since he was supposed to be an excellent ground engineer :? This again reinforces the idea that the book was actually set quite early on. There has also be some discussion elsewhere on the Forum about a previous expedition to this part of the Jungle with a date which did not quite tie in with the timeline.


He asks Ginger if he has, by any chance, forgotten to do his inspection, and Ginger is quite affronted. I don't think he accused him, per se, he was just eliminating all the possibilities.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Frecks » 11 Nov 2017, 15:26

I do not think Ginger was very pleased though. I suppose Biggles did not like to think anyone would try to sabotage the aircraft.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby Fairblue » 11 Nov 2017, 15:30

Frecks wrote:I do not think Ginger was very pleased though. I suppose Biggles did not like to think anyone would try to sabotage the aircraft.

Very naive of him then.
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Re: Biggles In The Jungle

Postby DrBiggles » 11 Nov 2017, 18:17

I have to say that I thought BIGGLES IN THE JUNGLE was a very good book.
I remember being particularly excited when they had to set off down the
dangerous looking jungle steps ........
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