I say there are 101 Biggles books and you can click here to see why.


If there are 101 Biggles books, why is it that the numbering on the spines only goes up to 84? – This being the number on the spine of ‘Biggles Sees Too Much’?


The first thing you need to know is that there were nine different original publishers of the Biggles books.


Four of the 101 books that Biggles appeared in were actually “Gimlet” books.  Two published by University of London Press and two published by Brockhampton Press.

If we remove those from the numbering system, of the remaining 97 true Biggles books:-


John Hamilton published 5 Biggles Books (the first five)

The Boys’ Friend Library published 2 Biggles books (‘Biggles Learns to Fly’ and ‘Biggles in France’)

Oxford University Press published 20 Biggles books

Hodder & Stoughton published 35 Biggles books (and that number includes ‘Comrades in Arms’)

Brockhampton Press published 29 Biggles books

Marks & Spencer published 1 Biggles book (‘Biggles – Air Detective’)

Thames Publishing Company published 1 (original) Biggles book (‘Biggles of the Special Air Police’)

Dean & Son published 2 (original) Biggles books (‘Biggles Flies to Work’ and ‘The Boy Biggles’)

Norman Wright published 2 Biggles books (‘Biggles Does Some Homework’ and ‘Biggles – Air Ace’).  The last two published.


W.E. Johns sold his first five Biggles books to John Hamilton outright – and had no royalties.  As a result of that, he lost control of those five titles.








It was then possible for the likes of the Thames Publishing Company and Dean & Son to reprint these books.

The Camels are Coming” was partially reprinted under the title “Biggles – Pioneer Air Fighter” with some stories also being published in Biggles of the Special Air Police

whilst “The Black Peril” became “Biggles and the Black Peril


With regard to the two Boys’ Friend Library published titles – they went separate ways


BIGGLES IN FRANCE – effectively became “Biggles of 266” published by the Thames Publishing Company and then Dean & Son, whereas

BIGGLES LEARNS TO FLY was “personally revised by Captain W. E. Johns for re-issue” by Brockhampton Press in 1955.


When Oxford University Press finished printing reprints of their 20 Biggles books in the mid to late 50’s, they allowed the rights of the 20 Oxford books to revert back to the author, W. E. Johns.



When the Biggles books were being printed by Hodder & Stoughton and Brockhampton Press, it was decided – in 1955 - to number them.


The numbering was applied to all the Hodder & Stoughton books and the Brockhampton Press books but it allowed for and included in the numbering, the 20 Oxford books, and the newly reissued “Biggles Learns to Fly”


So, in other words the five JOHN HAMILTON books were missed out of the numbering – as was one of the Boys’ Friend Library books (“Biggles in France”).

They also missed out the Marks & Spencer published Biggles book from 1950 (‘Biggles – Air Detective’) and the Thames Publishing Company published Biggles book from 1953 (‘Biggles of the Special Air Police’).  They also didn’t bother to number “Comrades in Arms” which had been published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1947 and featured one Biggles story, one Gimlet story, one Worrals story and three other stories.


This means that NINE earlier Biggles books were missed out of the numbering system.


Now, bearing in mind that my list of 101 Biggles books also includes the 4 Gimlet books in which Biggles appears, these four books need to be added to that number nine.


KING OF THE COMMANDOS – published in 1943

GIMLET GOES AGAIN – published in 1944

GIMLET MOPS UP – published in 1947

GIMLET BORES IN – published in 1950


So we have the numbering system out by 13.



The last unnumbered first edition was “Biggles Foreign Legionnaire” published in September 1954.


The next book published by Hodder and Stoughton was “Biggles in Australia” in March 1955 and this was allocated the number 44.

Brockhampton Press followed in May 1955 with “Biggles’ Chinese Puzzle” which they numbered 43.

One can only assume these numbers were given to them prior to publication and it was expected that Brockhampton would publish before Hodder, but in the event they didn’t.


After this, they effectively got the numbering system right with the numbers following on in publication order.

Hodder’s “No Rest for Biggles” was number 45 and Brockhampton’s “Biggles Takes Charge” was number 46.

I have noted these books at my number 58 and 59 in the list of 101 books as the numbering is out by 13 for the reasons I have just explained.


In September 1963 book number 67 was published – “Biggles and the Plane that Disappeared”.

In the same month, Dean & Son published a collection of Biggles short stories as “Biggles Flies to Work”.  This does not feature in the numbering system.


You can see below the numbers allocated for 72 numbered Biggles books up until “Biggles and the Plot that Failed”, published as book number 72 in April 1965.


There was then a slip up in numbering.


Biggles and the Blue Moon – published in May 1965 – was allocated number 75

Biggles Scores a Bull – published in August 1965 – was allocated number 73

Biggles in the Terai – published in February 1966 – was allocated number 74

Biggles and the Gun Runners – published in September 1966 – was allocated number 76


Clearly Blue Moon is out of publication order in its numbering


Biggles Sorts it Out – published February 1967 – was allocated number 77

Biggles and the Dark Intruder – was published in April 1967 – this was, uniquely (if you exclude the two Boys’ Friend Library publications), published as a paperback and so was not allocated any number

Biggles and the Penitent Thief – published September 1967 – was allocated number 78

Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea – published in February 1968 – was allocated number 79

The Boy Biggles – published in March 1968 – was not part of the number allocating system as it was published by a different publisher – Dean & Son.


This was the last Biggles book published in W. E. Johns lifetime.  He died on Friday 21st June 1968, leaving four complete unpublished manuscripts, whilst working on a fifth


Biggles in the Underworld – published in September 1968 – was allocated number 80

Biggles and the Little Green God – published in March 1969 – was allocated number 81

Biggles and the Noble Lord – published in August 1969 – was allocated number 82

Biggles and the Dark Intruder – this being the hardback version of the paperback published back in 1967 – was  then published in February 1970 – and was allocated number 83

Biggles Sees Too Much, effectively the “last” completed Biggles book - was published in July 1970 – and was allocated number 84


The uncompleted fifth manuscript saw a limited publication when Biggles Does Some Homework was published.

300 paperbacks were published in February 1998 and then 300 hardbacks were published in June 2007.


So to conclude, the numbering system that was out by 13 books when numbering started in 1955 was now out by 15 books on completion of publication of the Biggles books because two

further books had been published by Dean & Son that were not in the numbering system.  Finally, Norman Wright completed publication of all Biggles books and stories with his two books,

Biggles Does Some Homework and the collection of previously uncollected stories, Biggles - Air Ace.


This meant that there were now 17 books not included in the numbering system.  84 numbered books plus 17 unnumbered = the 101 books that Biggles featured in.


For the sake of clarity the 17 unnumbered books – in publication order are:-


THE CAMELS ARE COMING – published in 1932

THE CRUISE OF THE CONDOR – published in 1933


BIGGLES FLIES AGAIN – published in 1934

THE BLACK PERIL – published in 1935

BIGGLES IN FRANCE – published in 1935

KING OF THE COMMANDOS – published in 1943

GIMLET GOES AGAIN – published in 1944

COMRADES IN ARMS – published in 1947

GIMLET MOPS UP – published in 1947

GIMLET BORES IN – published in 1950

BIGGLES – AIR DETECTIVE – published in 1950


BIGGLES FLIES TO WORK – published in 1963

THE BOY BIGGLES – published in 1968

BIGGLES DOES SOME HOMEWORK – published in 1998

BIGGLES – AIR ACE – published in 1999




Around the mid 1950s, Oxford University Press allowed the rights in their twenty Oxford books to return to Captain W. E. Johns.  Oxford effectively finished their reprints of the 20 Oxford books in 1952/53.  They reprinted 17 of the 20 in 1952 and the other 3 in 1953.  With the exceptional of one abridged educational book in 1966, these were the last Oxford publications of Biggles books.  It was “Biggles Takes Charge” published by Brockhampton Press in June 1956 that first referred to the Oxford titles on the back of one of their Biggles books.  This listed the newly reprinted “Biggles Learns to Fly” with the twenty Oxford titles and then the five previous Brockhampton Press Biggles book titles on the back of the book.  All were unnumbered.  It was then the next Hodder & Stoughton Biggles book – “Biggles Makes Ends Meet” published on 7th February 1957 that was the first to list numbered Biggles books on the back.  “Biggles Makes Ends Meet” has the number 47 on its spine.  It has previously published Biggles titles numbered from 1 to 46 on the rear cover.  This list included “Biggles Goes to School” as number one and “Biggles Learns to Fly” as number two.  The twenty Oxford titles then follow, with the two Oxford R.F.C. novels being numbered three and four.  The books are then effectively listed in date of publication order with “Biggles Sweeps the Desert” falling amongst the list of those twenty Oxford books as that book (the first original Hodder & Stoughton Biggles book) was published in 1942 before the last two Oxford books that were originally published in 1943.



The back of “Biggles Takes a Hand” contained the most titles referred to by a first edition on the rear of any Biggles book.  64 titles – numbered 1 to 64.  After this not every title was featured.  The 1964 reprint (5th ed) of  “The First Biggles Omnibus” features the first 67 numbered titles on the back (plus 3 others).  You can see that by clicking here.



The back of “Biggles Scores a Bull” went up to title 72 but only lists 50 Biggles titles.  You will note it starts with book number 1, then jumps to 14 then 18 before running through the books.  Books numbered 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, 32 and 45 are all missed out.  This was the last Biggles book to number the books on the rear cover.



The back of “Biggles Sees Too Much” –

The “last” Biggles book published in 1970 showed only 46 titles. 



Why does the back of “Biggles Scores a Bull” choose to list the book titles they do?  Well, Brockhampton Press reprinted FOUR of the Oxford Books – and only FOUR – under the “Brock Books” label -

the ones allocated numbers 14, 18, 19 and 23.  They are the only four Oxford books referred to in the list above.


You can see the covers of these books and the colour frontispieces – unique to these editions – below.  Why were these four Oxford books chosen?


The answer would appear to me to be that they were never published as Armada paperback books.  15 of the 20 Oxford books were published as paperbacks by Armada books but not those four.

The only other Oxford book not published by Armada was “Biggles Flies West” which was published in the Hampton Library series by Brockhampton Press in 1961.  This series has no internal illustrations at all.

The Hampton Library series contained 14 Biggles books but only 6 of these were Oxford reprints.  Those 6 were BIGGLES HITS THE TRAIL, BIGGLES FLIES WEST, BIGGLES FLIES SOUTH, BIGGLES FLIES NORTH, BIGGLES IN THE SOUTH SEAS and BIGGLES IN THE JUNGLE.  Interestingly, “Spitfire Parade” was published as a paperback by Transworld publishers in their “Scottie Books” series in 1956.


I have also included book number 2 – the Brockhampton Press version of “Biggles Learns to Fly" below.  This was the only other Brockhampton “Brock Book” reprint and the edition had a unique frontispiece.






As you will have read, nearly every Biggles book from “Biggles’ Chinese Puzzle” onwards was numbered, 43 onwards

When the above books were reprinted they were numbered as

2 – Biggles Learns to Fly

14 – Biggles Secret Agent

18 – Biggles Sees it Through

19 – Spitfire Parade

23 – Biggles in Borneo

There were eleven other Biggles books that were later reprinted and had their “designated” numbers printed on the spines of the reprint.

These were all books that had originally been published before the numbering system came into being in March 1955.

You can find post March 1955 reprints of the following books with the numbers shown below on their dust wrappers:-



28 – Biggles Second Case

29 – Biggles Hunts Big Game

31 – Biggles Breaks the Silence

35 – Biggles Takes the Case

36 – Biggles Follows On

37 – Biggles and the Black Raider

38 – Biggles in the Blue

39 – Biggles in the Gobi

40 – Biggles Cuts it Fine

41 – Biggles and the Pirate Treasure

42 – Biggles Foreign Legionnaire