I have done an analysis of the chapter titles from the Biggles books.

I typed EVERY Biggles book chapter title into a spread sheet (don’t ask!).

I could then see which ones had been previously used and where.

I could also then search for “key words” and come up with some interesting information.


What do I mean by “every Biggles book chapter title”?  I mean every single chapter title from every FIRST EDITION Biggles book and EXCLUDING all reprints.  So that means including all the original chapter titles from the Boy’s Friend Library versions of ‘Biggles Learns to Fly’ (24 chapters) and ‘Biggles in France’ (25 chapters, incidentally, the highest number of chapters in any Biggles book) and not including ‘Biggles Pioneer Air Fighter’ and “Biggles of 266’ which are reprints.  I included the solitary Biggles story from ‘Comrades in Arms’ (“Thunder over Germany” – which is a unique chapter title).  I did not include any “preface” to a book.  I included all the stories from “Biggles – Air Ace” as separate chapter titles and also the four named chapter titles from “Biggles Does Some Homework”.

To my astonishment, the figure came to exactly 1500!   W.E. Johns wrote EXACTLY 1500 chapter titles for the Biggles books!

I wanted to know how many were unique and how many were repeated.  If you want to know as well ……..  this is where you can find out ……


There are 1323 different and unique chapter titles


177 were “duplicate” chapter titles – this is only 11.80%


There are some very similar sounding “unique” titles.  For example, “Back to the Wall” is the title of chapter 11 of  BIGGLES & Co., whereas “BackS to the Wall” (with an ‘S’ on the end of the word “back”) is the title of chapter 20 of BIGGLES GOES TO WAR but neither of those chapter titles appear in any other Biggles book written by W. E. Johns.  Both are therefore unique chapter titles.


What is the most common chapter title?


“TRAPPED”. It appears in 10 Biggles books


     The Cruise of the Condor – Chapter 12

     Biggles – Air Commodore – Chapter 15

     Biggles Flies South – Chapter 10

     Biggles Flies North – Chapter 18

     Biggles in the South Seas – Chapter 15

     Biggles Defies the Swastika – Chapter 14

     Biggles Forms a Syndicate – Chapter 6

     Biggles and the Missing Millionaire – Chapter 9

     Biggles Takes it Rough – Chapter 8

     Biggles and the Noble Lord – Chapter 10


What were the first Biggles books to duplicate previous chapter titles?


Well, W. E. Johns started early.  BIGGLES FLIES AGAIN – chapter 13 was called “The Last Show” and this was a repeat of the title of chapter 17 of THE CAMELS ARE COMING.  THE BLACK PERIL – chapter 13 was called “Fog” and this was a repeat of the title of chapter 15 of THE CAMELS ARE COMING.  In BIGGLES LEARNS TO FLY (BFL) - chapter 12 was “The Decoy”.  This was the same title as chapter 10 of THE CAMELS ARE COMING.  In BIGGLES HITS THE TRAIL – chapter 6 was “Marooned” – This was the same title as chapter 13 of THE CRUISE OF THE CONDOR.  BIGGLES HITS THE TRAIL – chapter 11 was “Council of War” – This was the same as chapter 6 of THE BLACK PERIL.  BIGGLES FLIES EAST – chapter 8 was “Forced Down” – and this was the same as chapter 1 of THE BLACK PERIL.  BIGGLES FLIES EAST – chapter 22 was “Biggles Explains” – This was the same as chapter 15 of THE BLACK PERIL.  BIGGLES & CO. – chapter 5 was “What Happened to Algy?” – This was the same as chapter 11 of THE BLACK PERIL.


It’s not until the 12th Biggles book that we find the chapter title “Trapped” being repeated.  “Trapped” was originally used as the title for chapter 12 of THE CRUISE OF THE CONDOR.  It was then used as the title of chapter 15 of BIGGLES – AIR COMMODORE.


By the time we have got to the end of BIGGLES GOES TO WAR, W. E. Johns had invented 250 different chapter titles and he had only repeated 9 of those chapter titles.  That’s 241 ORIGINAL chapter titles.  Obviously as he wrote more and more books, it was harder and harder not to repeat the chapter titles of the previous books!


That said, even as late as 1967, when BIGGLES SORTS IT OUT was published, that book has 17 chapters all with unique chapter names!  They repeat no other chapter titles that have ever gone before in the Biggles books.




This was used as a chapter title 4 times – in THE BLACK PERIL, BIGGLES & CO., BIGGLES FLIES SOUTH and BIGGLES IN THE BALTIC


There were then a further 23 chapter titles that referred to Algy.


     Algy Gets a Shock

     Algy’s Antelope Hunt

     Algy to the Rescue

     Algy Explores

     How Algy ditched the Gosling

     Algy Meets a Friend and an Enemy

     Algy Takes a Hand

     Algy Carries On

     The Coming of Algy

     Algy Learns the Answers

     No Rest for Algy

     Algy and the Dragon

     Algy Makes a Wager

     Algy Spoils Some Breakfasts

     Hard Going for Algy

     Algy Speaks His Mind

     Problems for Algy

     Algy Meets Trouble

     An Anxious Day for Algy

     Where is Algy

     Algy Explains

     Worry for Algy

     Algy Reports





This was used as a chapter title 4 times – in HITS THE TRAIL, SOUTH SEAS, SWEEPS THE DESERT and BREAKS THE SILENCE


     “Ginger Goes Alone” is used 4 times – SPAIN, GETS HIS MEN, IN THE BLUE and COMBINED OPERATION

     “Ginger Takes a Walk” is used 3 times – DELIVERS THE GOODS, SERGEANT BIGGLESWORTH and LEOPARDS OF ZINN

     “Ginger Gets a Shock” is used twice – BIGGLES & CO. and DELIVERS THE GOODS

     “Ginger Goes Back” is used twice – SECRET AGENT and BORNEO

     “Ginger Has a Fright” is used twice – SOUTH SEAS and LOST SOVEREIGNS


That’s 17 “Ginger” chapter titles ………… but there are then another 43 chapter titles that refer to Ginger to add to that total.


     Ginger Takes a Hand

     Ginger Strikes

     Ginger’s Night Out

     Ginger Comes Home

     Ginger Takes the War-Path

     Ginger Gets a Prisoner and a Shock

     Ginger Goes Scouting

     Ginger Acts

     More Shocks for Ginger

     Ginger Goes Exploring

     Ginger Makes a Discovery

     Ginger Loses His Temper

     Dusky Tells His Story and Ginger Learns a Lesson

     Ginger Gets Some Shocks

     Ginger Starts Something

     Ginger Climbs a Tree

     Ginger Climbs Down

     Ginger Runs Away

     Ginger Falls Out

     Ginger Brings News

     Ginger Wins an Argument

     Ginger Goes Ashore

     Tough Going for Ginger

     Ginger Takes a Turn

     Up to Ginger

     Bad Luck for Ginger

     Ginger Takes a Chance

     Ginger Drops In

     Ginger on a Spot

     Ginger’s Dilemma

     Shocks for Ginger

     Troubles for Ginger

     Ginger Takes Charge

     Ginger Finds a Scent

     Ginger Sets Off

     No Fun for Ginger

     Ginger Reports

     Ginger Goes to Somerset

     Where is Ginger?

     Tough Going for Ginger

     Ginger Gets a Fright

     A Message from Ginger

     Why Ginger was Late





     This title is used three times – PLANE THAT DISAPPEARED, SCORES A BULL and DARK INTRUDER

     but there is also a chapter called “What Happened to Bertie (continued)” in SCORES A BULL that follows on from “What Happened to Bertie”!


There are then are a further 21 chapter titles that refer to Bertie:-


     Bertie Picks the Lock

     Bertie Meets a Friend

     Bertie Picks a Lemon

     Bertie Flies Alone

     Bertie Takes a Turn

     Bertie Gets a Fright

     Bertie Takes a Job

     Bertie Has Some Fun

     Bertie Gets Busy

     Bertie Climbs a Tree

     Bertie Takes a Hand

     Bertie Has a Brainwave

     Bertie Gets His Way

     Bertie Goes Ashore

     Bertie Makes a Blunder

     Bertie Gets Tough

     Bertie Takes a Chance

     Bertie Brings News

     Bertie Takes a Walk

     Problems for Bertie

     What Became of Bertie?





Below is a list of the most common chapter titles referring to Biggles.


     “Biggles Makes a Call” – 5 chapters – ORIENT, ANOTHER JOB, MEXICO, BLUE MOON and LITTLE GREEN GOD

     “Biggles Explains” – 4 chapters – BLACK PERIL, FLIES EAST, GOES ALONE and SETS A TRAP

     “What Happened to Biggles?” – 3 chapters – FLIES WEST, IN THE BALTIC and BLUE MOON

     “Biggles Speaks His Mind” – 3 chapters – TAKES A HOLIDAY, PLOT THAT FAILED and PENITENT THIEF

     “A Shock for Biggles” – 3 chapters – BREAKS THE SILENCE, TAKES A HAND, DARK INTRUDER

     “Biggles Takes a Chance” – 3 chapters – FOLLOWS ON, MAKES ENDS MEET and LITTLE GREEN GOD

     “Biggles Gets Tough” – 3 chapters – MAKES ENDS MEET, SPECIAL CASE and UNDERWORLD


     “Biggles Gets a Shock” – 2 chapters – CRUISE OF THE CONDOR and FLIES EAST

     “Biggles Gets Busy” – 2 chapters – FLIES EAST and MYSTERY ISLAND

     “Biggles Has Visitors” – 2 chapters – GOES TO WAR and BREAKS THE SILENCE

     “Biggles Meets an Old Friend” – 2 chapters – SOUTH SEAS and IN THE JUNGLE

     “Biggles Takes Over” – 2 chapters – FAILS TO RETURN and SPITFIRE PARADE

     “Biggles Investigates” – 2 chapters – ORIENT and BIGGLES INVESTIGATES

     “Biggles Asks Some Questions” – 2 chapters – SECOND CASE and LITTLE GREEN GOD

     “Biggles Takes a Turn” – 2 chapters – HUNTS BIG GAME and WORKS IT OUT

     “Biggles Plays for Time” – 2 chapters – BREAKS THE SILENCE and GETS HIS MEN

     “Biggles Decides” – 2 chapters – MYSTERY ISLAND and LEOPARDS OF ZINN

     “Biggles Arrives” – 2 chapters – GOES HOME and IN THE TERAI

     “Biggles Makes a Plan” – 2 chapters – TAKES IT ROUGH and BLUE MOON

     “Biggles is Worried” – 2 chapters – BLACK MASK and IN THE TERAI


Then in addition to those 50 chapter titles there were 101 other Biggles chapter titles!


     Biggles Finds His Feet

     Biggles’ Day Off

     Biggles’ Special Mission

     Biggles Declares War

     Biggles Disappears

     Biggles Flies a Bomber

     Biggles Gets a Bull

     Biggles’ Bombshell

     Biggles Gets the Bird

     Biggles Tells the Story

     Biggles Sums Up

     Biggles Speaks

     Biggles Makes a Proposition

     Biggles Makes Some Suggestions

     Biggles Wins Through

     Biggles Strikes

     Biggles Gets a Letter

     Biggles Goes to Prenzel

     Biggles Strikes Back

     Biggles Takes a Trip

     Biggles Comes Back

     Biggles Makes a Capture

     Biggles Strikes Again

     Biggles Takes His Turn

     Biggles Hears the News

     Where is Biggles?

     Biggles Briefs Himself

     Biggles Makes a Wager

     Biggles Plays Fox

     Biggles Sums Up

     Biggles Makes a Reconnaissance

     Shocks for Biggles

     Biggles Follows On

     Biggles Takes to Water

     Biggles Offers Terms

     Biggles States the Case

     Biggles Takes Charge

     Biggles Turns the Tide

     Biggles Calls the Tune

     Biggles Takes a Ride

     Enter Biggles

     Biggles Hits Back

     Biggles Has Something to Say

     Biggles Baits the Trap

     Biggles Makes His Plans

     Biggles is Surprised

     Biggles Then and Now

     Bad Luck for Biggles

     Leave it to Bigglesworth

     Biggles and the Pirate Treasure

     Biggles Buys a Watch

     Biggles Nets a Fish

     Biggles Startles the Chief

     Biggles Chinese Puzzle

     Biggles Answers Some Questions

     Biggles Goes Alone

     Biggles Turns the Trick

     Biggles Has Doubts

     Biggles Walks In

     Biggles Works Overtime

     Biggles Makes a Bet

     Biggles Lays a Ghost

     Biggles Changes His Mind

     Biggles Makes His Plan

     Biggles Makes a Deal

     Biggles Sees Daylight

     What Biggles was Doing

     Biggles Gives Advice

     Biggles Goes Hunting

     Biggles Cooks Some Dirt

     Biggles Makes a Suggestion

     Biggles Sits Back

     Biggles Makes Plans

     Biggles Has a Fright

     Biggles Has a Visitor

     Biggles Plans Action

     Biggles Learns Something

     Biggles Understands

     Biggles Remembers

     Biggles Cracks a Nut

     Biggles Picks Up a Club

     Biggles Makes Plans and a Trip

     Biggles is Puzzled

     Biggles Does Some Thinking

     Biggles Show How

     Biggles Makes Some Calls

     Biggles Has a Problem

     Biggles Faces the Music

     Biggles Plays the Last Card

     Biggles is Not Impressed

     Biggles Makes a Decision

     Biggles Learns the Facts

     Biggles Makes Some Inquiries

     Biggles Shows His Hand

     Biggles Xmas Box

     Biggles Christmas Tree

     Biggles and the Joker

     Biggles Night Out

     Biggles on the Spot

     Biggles Exciting Night

     Biggles Takes the Bait


We can now look at the statistics relating to the above information.


     1500 chapter titles

     27 featured Algy

     60 featured Ginger

     25 featured Bertie

     151 featured Biggles


     That’s a total of 263 chapter titles featuring our heroes …..


     So there is a reference to a hero character in 17.53% of all chapter titles!



How many chapter titles refer to “Von Stalhein”?   The answer is 9


     Enter Von Stalhein (Secret Agent – Chapter  8)

     Von Stalhein Plays a Trump Card (Secret Agent – Chapter 10)

     Von Stalhein Again (Baltic – Chapter 14)

     Von Stalhein Again (Sees it Through – Chapter 13)

     Von Stalhein is Annoyed (Follows On – Chapter 14)

     Von Stalhein Comes Back (No Rest – Chapter 14)

     Von Stalhein Says His Piece (Buries a Hatchet – Chapter 15)

     Von Stalhein Gives a Hint (Takes a Hand – Chapter 3)

     Von Stalhein Explains (Looks Back – Chapter 5)



How many chapters featured a “PROBLEM”?   The answer is 17


     Problems (Gun Runners & Sees Too Much)

     More Problems (Works it Out – Missing Millionaire – Lost Sovereigns – Looks Back – Blue Moon – Deep Blue Sea)

     Knotty Problems (Another Job for Biggles)

     Problems for Algy (Mystery Island)

     The Problem (Biggles Looks Back)

     Pearls and Problems (Blue Moon)

     A Policeman has a Problem (Scores a Bull)

     No Ordinary Problem (Dark Intruder)

     A Plan and a Problem (Dark Intruder)

     Biggles has a Problem (Penitent Thief)

     Problems for Bertie (Underworld)


How many chapters featured a “SHOCK”? –   The answer is 25.


     Biggles Gets a Shock (Cruise)

     Algy Gets a Shock (East)

     Biggles Gets a Shock (East)

     More Shocks (East)

     Still More Shocks (East)

     Ginger Gets a Shock (& Co.)

     Ginger Gets a Prisoner and a Shock (War)

     An Unpleasant Shock (North)

     A Nasty Shock (Spain)

     More Shocks for Ginger (Spain)

     Ginger Gets Some Shocks (Jungle)

     More Shocks (Borneo)

     Ginger Gets a Shock (Delivers)

     Shocks for Biggles (Delivers)

     A Shock for Biggles (Silence)

     Shocks in the Plural (Gobi)

     The Final Shock (Home)

     Shocks and More Shocks (Poor Rich Boy)

     Shocks for Ginger (Millionaire)

     A Shock for Biggles (Hand)

     Shocks (Black Mask)

     A Shock and a Journey (Looks Back)

     A Shock for Biggles (Dark Intruder)

     A Shocking Discovery (Underworld)

     Shocks (Sees Too Much)



Something or someone “TAKES A HAND” a dozen times …


     Ginger Takes a Hand (Black Peril)

     Sterne Takes a Hand (Biggles Flies East)

     Carruthers Takes a Hand (Biggles in the Jungle)

     Algy Takes a Hand (Biggles’ Second Case)

     Nature Takes a Hand (Biggles Takes a Holiday)

     A Soldier Takes a Hand (Black Raider)

     Nature Takes a Hand (Makes Ends Meet)

     Bertie Takes a Hand (Buries a Hatchet)

     The Weather Takes a Hand (World’s End)

     The River Takes a Hand (Poor Rich Boy)

     Nature Takes a Hand (Biggles’ Special Case)

     Horace Takes a Hand (Biggles Flies to Work)


Something happens “AGAIN” in sixteen chapters


     Hardwick Again (Biggles & Co.)

     Southward Again (Flies North)

     Goudini Again (Biggles in Spain)

     Von Stalhein Again (in the Baltic)

     Von Stalhein Again (Biggles Sees it Through)

     Biggles Strikes Again (Biggles Sweeps the Desert)

     The Enemy Strikes Again (Biggles Sweeps the Desert)

     Preuss Tries Again (Sergeant Bigglesworth C.I.D.)

     Gontermann Does it Again (Sergeant Bigglesworth C.I.D)

     Von Schonbeck Tries Again (Biggles’ Second Case)

     The Clock That Ticked Again (Biggles’ Second Case)

     The Unexpected Again (Biggles Breaks the Silence)

     Morgan Tries Again (Biggles in the Blue)

     Yomas Tries Again (Biggles and the Lost Sovereigns)

     Death Strikes Again (Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea)

     And Again (Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea)


There are certain standard ending chapter titles …


4 Chapters are “Conclusion”

     Cruise of the Condor

     Biggles Flies North

     Biggles – Secret Agent

     No Rest for Biggles


2 Chapters are “In Conclusion”

     Biggles in Africa

     The Boy Biggles


5 Chapters are “The End of the Trail”

     Biggles Flies South

     Biggles in the Orient

     Biggles’ Second Case

     Biggles on the Home Front

     Biggles and the Penitent Thief


We also have “How it Ended” – 4 times

     Biggles at World’s End

     Biggles and the Leopards of Zinn

     Biggles and the Plot That Failed

     Biggles and the Gun Runners


And “How it all Ended” – 5 times

     Biggles’ Special Case

     Biggles and the Plane that Disappeared

     Biggles Looks Back

     Biggles in the Underworld

     Biggles Sees Too Much






     165 chapter titles

     136 of those are not previously used in any Biggles, Worrals or Gimlet book

     29 repeat previous Johns’ chapter titles

     “Worrals Takes a Trip” is the most common, being used 3 times

     “On Thin Ice”, “Fresh Plans” and “Desperate Measures” are used twice in the Worrals books

     There is only one chapter called “What Happened to Worrals” –  and that is in Worrals Flies Again – (chapter 9)

     There are 20 chapters with “Worrals” and 11 with “Frecks” in the title





     157 chapter titles

     132 of those are not previously used in any Biggles, Worrals or Gimlet book

     25 repeat previous Johns’ chapter titles

     “Gimlet Takes Over” is the most common, being used 3 times

     “Gimlet Takes a Hand”, “Explanations”, “First Reconnaissance”, “Cub Takes a Chance” and “Gimlet Goes Alone” are all used twice

     There is no “What Happened to Gimlet” chapter(!)

     There are 12 chapters with “Gimlet” and 16 with “Cub” in the title

     There are 6 Chapters with “Copper” and 2 with “Trapper” in the title









     1323 different BIGGLES chapter titles

       136 different WORRALS chapter titles

       132 different GIMLET chapter titles

     1591 unique chapter titles out of 1822 - Therefore 87.32% of chapter titles written by W. E. Johns had unique and original titles!


All details are from a presentation given by Roger Harris to the W. E. Johns Appreciation Society on Saturday 14th October 2017.