by Roger Harris


A restored copy of an original John Hamilton ‘wrap-around’ dust jacket for”Biggles Flies Again”


'Biggles Flies Again' was the fourth Biggles book published by John Hamilton.  Twelve of the thirteen separate stories were subsequently published in 'Modern Boy' Magazine from issue 377 (dated 27th April 1935) to issue 384 (dated 15th June 1935).  Twelve stories were published in only eight issues.  The Story ‘Fair Cargo’ was not published, presumably because the romantic story was not thought to be appealing to the target audience.  ‘The Maid and the Mountains’ and ‘The Blue Orchid’ were combined in issue 378.  ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Bob’s Box’ were combined in issue 379.  ‘The Oriental Touch’ and ‘Down in the Forest’ were combined in issue 381.  ‘Yellow Freight’ and ‘The Last Show’ were combined in issue 384.  However, the first eleven stories, including ‘Fair Cargo’ had originally been published in ‘Popular Flying’ Magazine, monthly, in the eleven months from July 1933 to May 1934 inclusive.


The book itself was published by John Hamilton Ltd, in August 1934, with the British Library receiving their copy on 31st August 1934 (so it must have been published earlier than this date).

The book was later published in the Boys’ Friend Library Series, as issue 630, dated 7th July 1938, and this contained all 13 stories, not just the 12 stories printed in Modern Boy.


“Biggles Flies Again” was published in at least three editions by John Hamilton and the first edition of the book was published as part of the John Hamilton "Ace" series.


The price of the book was 3 shillings and 6 pence.  Just a brief note about "old money". Prior to decimalisation there were 12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound - so there were 240 pence in a pound. 3 shillings and 6 pence was therefore 42 pence (pence was referred to by the letter "d" in old money). On decimalisation, a shilling became 5 new pence so in "new money" the book would have cost 17.5 pence.


The pages of my first edition were originally tinted blue along the top edge. I have displayed photographs of my original first edition to show the dimensions of the book and also to show what the first few pages look like to assist people in identifying first editions of the book.




Above, the first three pictures that you see show the size of the first edition book cover.  The book is 190 millimetres long and is 40 millimetres wide.  The depth is just around 128 millimetres from the back of the spine to the tip of the cover.


You can also see pictures showing the covers of the book and the first few pages of the book showing the other titles in the “ACE” series listed.



As with all of the John Hamilton books, there is no publication date.




Although generally speaking, it is hard to determine the different John Hamilton editions of "Biggles Flies Again", as the books were undated, the first edition itself has gold titles to the front and the spine of the book.  The boards are blue and the top of the pages are tinted blue.  The first edition was “Made and Printed in Great Britain by the Kemp Hall Press, Ltd. in the City of Oxford”.  The book has 224 pages and there is the usual sundial logo to the bottom of the spine followed by the words “John Hamilton”.  There was no catalogue in the first edition of the book.




Here’s an interesting fact for Biggles fans.  The plate opposite page 124, used to illustrate the story ‘Savages and Wings’ was painted by W. E. Johns himself and not by Howard Leigh.  It is signed “Johns” in the bottom right hand corner.  The other plates are unsigned so it is not clear who illustrated those plates.  It may even have been Johns himself, rather than Howard Leigh.