Methuen edition from 1971. Cover by Mary Gernat.


Above is a photograph of the cover of the copy of
Strange Messages that Enid's daughter Gillian owned at her death in 2007 and which I bought at auction in 2010.

As Fatty is shining a torch on the bottom left corner of the book, drawing attention to something, I'm going to leave consideration of the story inside until after I've talked a little about the mystery of the book itself. This particular copy was never at Green Hedges. It is not a first edition from 1957, but was reprinted by Methuen in 1971, three years after Enid's own death.


It would have been in the library of Darrell Waters Limited, as these marks on the spine were caused by the removal of sellotape and stickers put there by that company.

In all, seven of the 15 books that were in Gillian's final collection show these marks on the spine, and I've put them together for the picture below.


The book that doesn't have a dustcover is the one that has been signed in blue ink by Enid Blyton, with an instruction that it be returned to Green Hedges. And The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat is the one that was signed by Gillian at Green Hedges, probably on its appearance in 1944 when she was 12. Spiteful Letters, Missing Man and Banshee Towers are all first editions, possibly from Green Hedges, but not signed.

What exactly was going on with these stickers? I don't know, but the illustrations in Bob Mullan's
The Enid Blyton Story, taken in 1989 when the stickers were still in place on the spines, suggest that there was a small white sticker placed a little way up the spine and then a larger strip of paper stuck round the bottom of the spine. On some occasions a piece of sellotape was used to place a second strip of white paper on top of the one at the bottom of the spine, so it was all quite complicated, perhaps because the stickiness of stickers and sellotape comes and goes over ten, twenty, thirty, forty years. It is now 51 years since Enid died.

Strange Messages is unusual in that there are signs that a longer piece of sellotape, or longer sticker, has been placed where the small sticker was on most books. Though there are signs that there was small sticker there too. Oh dear, I'm disappearing down a mouse-hole here, like Bets's hand. Pip has got the right idea, I should stick to reading the papers. I wonder what the latest situation is re Brexit.


OK, Fatty, you can switch off your torch for now. Save its battery for when we really need it.



Unusually, the Mystery begins in the mind and the home of P.C. Goon. He is receiving anonymous notes and these dominate the first half of the book.

I'll say straight away that it's his cleaner, Mrs Hicks, that is delivering the notes on behalf of someone else. The reader might guess this, as her name is so similar to Mr Hick, guilty party of
Mystery of the Burnt Cottage.

I don't think Mrs Hicks has been given enough respect for the perspective she brings to the lives of Goon, Ern and the Find-Outers, so I'm going to try and put that right and at the same time build a picture of Goon's abode.

The first three notes, which Goon has already received as the novel starts, read as follows:




When asked, Mrs Hicks tells Goon that one note was found on the coal shovel atop the coal-shed. One was sellotaped to the dustbin lid. And the third was put through the letterbox, conventionally.

The fourth note is discovered by Mrs Hicks in the middle of the first chapter. She'd gone out to hang up her dish-cloth, and when she put her hand into the peg-bag there was the fourth envelope. One gets the impression that Mrs Hicks delights in communicating these domestic details to Goon, who does not think 'women's work' is worthy of mention. I love her aside about her dish cloth: "And a real rag it is too," implying that Goon might invest in a new one. Anyway, the fourth note reverts to non-capital letters. It may have been a slip on Enid's part to use capitals for the first notes:
'You'll be sorry if you don't go and see Smith.'

Goon thinks Fatty has sent the notes, so goes to confront him at his house, where he and the rest of the Find-Outers are helping Mrs Trotteville clear out the attic. Goon makes an ass of himself as usual, refusing to accept Fatty's denials of culpability, and ends up throwing the notes down onto the floor.


Back home, Mrs Hicks shocks Goon by telling him that a new note has turned up, this one stuck in a milk bottle that Mrs Hicks had not long put out on the step. The note reads:
'Why don't you do what you are told, egg-head?'

Enid is really having fun at this stage. Though you have to ask: why would someone that wanted a policeman to conduct an investigation insult him in this way? That would be counterproductive, surely. Turning the officer of the law's focus on the writer rather than the message.

Goon pays Ern to stay at his house and keep watch for whoever is leaving the notes. When not needed, Ern calls on the Find-Outers. They get down to business:


The notes are studied. A look in the street directory suggests there is no house in Peterswood called The Ivies. So they're a bit stuck. To distract themselves, Ern is asked to read his latest poem.

He confesses that it has taken him six months to write the following seven lines:

"There was a poor old house
That once was full of folk,
But now was sad and empty,
And to me it spoke.
It said "They all have left me
The rooms are cold and bare,
The front door's locked and bolted…"

Seems bit odd that Ern couldn't get something like the next line:

"And all the windows stare."

Anyway, Fatty supplies this, then carries on effortlessly:

No smoke comes from my chimneys,
No rose grows up my wall,
But only ivy shrouds me,
In green and shining shawl!"

Imagine the other Find-Outers and Ern, sitting there with beaming smiles on their faces, listening:

"No postman brings me letters,
No name is on my gate,
I once was called The Ivies,
But now I'm out of date.
The garden's poor and weedy,
The trees won't leaf again,
But though I fall to ruin,
The ivy - will - remain."

Fatty adds these lines in just a few seconds. To which Ern responds:

"You're a genius, Fatty, and I'm not. That's your pome, not mine."
"No, Ern. It's yours. You began it, and I expect that's how it was meant to go," said Fatty, smiling. "I shouldn't have been able to think of the ending, if you hadn't thought of the beginning."

Mutual respect - you can't beat it!

And more to the point, the poem gives the Find-Outers the way forward. To look for houses that may not be named any more but are covered in ivy!

But let's stay focused on the notes for now. Goon comes across another one at the back of his house on the kitchen window-sill, so he summons Ern and Mrs Hicks who must surely have noticed an intruder. We learn that not ten minutes before, Mrs Hicks had opened that window to throw bread to the birds. She says the note wasn't there then. As the back garden is enclosed, this implies that someone must have come over the fence, crossed the garden, and put the note on the window-sill. Now Ern, upstairs, has been watching the garden the whole time. He saw Mrs Hicks open the window and throw out bread, but no-one else. Goon concludes that Ern wasn't really watching. Which dismays Ern. Anyway, the new note says: '
When you see Smith, say SECRETS to him. Then watch him show his heels.'

Quite a lot happens before the last two notes turn up in chapter 13, but I'll briefly skip to those. Fatty turns up at Goon's house. He's met by Mrs Hicks who tells him there's been another 'ominous note'. Upstairs Ern tells Fatty that the note was pegged to the washing line. (Nice one, Mrs Hicks!) The note said:
'Ask Smith at Fairlin Hall what his real name is.'

In a stroke, this told Goon the information which the Find-Outers had worked so hard over several chapters to discover. That The Ivies is a house now called Fairlin Hall. Ern and Fatty hear a scream from downstairs. Mrs Hicks (bless her) has just found another note. She's lying back in the kitchen arm-chair fanning herself with the dish-cloth. She explains that she just went to the larder and a note had been pushed through the larder window and was lying on top of the fish. Fatty fetches the note and opens it (even though it is addressed to Goon). It reads:
'Found out about Smith yet, you dunderhead?'

Actually, as it turns out, the writer of these notes would have no idea about Goon's character, just as he didn't even know (to begin with) that The Ivies had long since changed its name to Fairlin Hall. The spite of the notes is pure Enid, which leads me to another aspect of them.


On page one of the book, it's pointed out that all the envelopes are addressed: 'Mr. goon'

That is, without a capital G. And each word is pasted separately, as if cut from newspaper.

In chapter ten, Fatty studies the notes and envelopes, first in his shed and then, once his lamp has gone out, in his bedroom.

'He found a few interesting things as he tried to get the pasted-on letters off the strips they were stuck on. The word 'goon' for instance, which was, in every case, apparently part of a whole word - it was not made of four separate letters. Fatty stared at it. 'goon'. It must be part of a whole word. But what word had 'goon' in it? He couldn't think of any.'

Couldn't think of any! Oh come on Fatty, oil those brains. There is 'lagoon' and 'dragoon' for a start. But it's Fatty's mother, dropping by on the look-out for her library book, who supplies another option: 'Rangoon'.

That information come home to roost in chapter 16 when Fatty, dressed as a rag-and-bone man, follows Mrs Hicks to a house in Peterswood called Kuntan.


He gets in conversation with her and I'll just point out a bit of casual non-racism, since Enid Blyton routinely gets criticised for being racist. Mrs Hills tells us that the Burmese man has an English wife and that he is all right but that she is bit stuck up.

Fatty is offered what he thinks of as junk.
'A big brass tray, green with neglect, stood on its side in one corner. A broken gong was near it, and pair of small Burmese idols in brass.' He doesn't want that stuff (but he does buy one of the little ornaments even though he describes it as 'a hideous little brass figure'). He's already spied some crates stamped 'RANGOON' and to his delight is offered old papers, including cut up copies of a magazine called Rangoon Weekly. This takes the investigation further. Fatty now knows where the note-writer and his partner-in-crime live in Peterswood. But before going on with the story, I need to explain what Enid has done sub-text.

On February 1st, 1924, according to her diary, Enid
'went to see Pollock. He wanted to know if I'd do a child's book of the zoo. I said I would.' Within a week, Enid and Hugh Pollock, editor at Newnes, were in love. During the First World War, Hugh was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. And after that he joined the Indian Army, serving in both India and Burma. In early February, after a couple of dates in which he must have done a lot of talking, Enid wrote a poem about India for Teachers World.

Here are a few diary extracts from February and March, 1924, preserving their chronology:

'I had his first real love-letter today. It’s lovely & it’s so beautifully written… I had a glorious love letter from Hugh this morning. Such a lovely, lovely one. He is a lovely lover…It was a lovely, lovely day. I do love dear, lovely Hugh…He is such a darling darling thing… I do love him so. He is so strong & yet so gentle… Hugh phoned me at 6.15 for half-an-hour! I wrote the Burma poem tonight and nearly finished it.'

So, here it is, the BURMA poem. First as it appeared in Teachers World in April of 1924, a month after it was written, illustrated by Enid's friend from school, Phyllis Chase. It's not so easy to read, so a transcript follows the reproduction.


'Oh, come with me to Burma, the land of pleasant ways,
Where a laughter-loving people dance down the sunny days
Where fairy-towers and slender
htes are gleaming 'neath the sun,
And nothing seems to matter much, but happiness and fun!

'Oh sail the Irrawaddy, till we come to old Rangoon
And see the gleaming Shwe Dagon a-shine beneath the moon.
Then on again we'll sail along the river's winding way,
Until, until we come at last to magic Mandalay!'

Enid is writing to Hugh. She is feeding Hugh's descriptions of his travels right back to him. It's a bit like Fatty finishing a poem begun by Ern.

'And there we'll find a palace made of shining gilded wood
And p'raps we'll tread the very spot where Kingly Theebaw stood.
I'll tell you ancient stories there, of Burman Queens and Kings,
To thrill you with the pleasure that an old time story brings.

And when we've left the Palace, you must come with me and see
The Mandalay Pagoda with its wondrous glittering
And up its hundred steps we'll go, on silent feet unshod,
And glimpse the Buddhas watching there, the Burman's slant-eyed God.

This is Enid opening up to love for the first time in her life. If her poem isn't meant to seduce and thrill the man she is addressing, then what is it meant to do? There's more of it. It pours out of her. You may have to forgive the dated attitude to wildlife that crops up next. Which you'll surely be able to do, because it's not altogether serious:

'And Oh! We'll hunt for tigers and for panthers in the hills
(But I think we'll both be certain-sure we've got a gun that kills).
We'll shout at all the monkeys that are chattering in the trees.
And wander back to Mandalay whatever time we please.

'And when we wander back again, we'll hear that fairy sound,
A little tinkle-tinkling from villages around.
A little fairy noise that sends all lurking Nats away
And frightens them, and chases them, from magic Mandalay.

'Oh, if you come to Burma, I will buy a brazen gong
And I'll beat it and I'll sing to you a laughing Burman song.
Oh, can't you feel the magic and the call of old Rangoon
And doesn't Mandalay call out, "Come soon - soon - soon!"'

Suggestive to me that Rangoon is rhymed with 'moon' and 'soon' in this poem. Interesting to me that at the peak of her passion for Hugh, just a month after meeting him for the first time, the letters 'GOON' were going through Enid's mind with such heat. Of
course, a lot happened in the years to come, and Enid's love for Hugh turned sour when his drinking put at risk the family life based on book writing and child rearing she'd put into place at Old Thatch in Bourne End. Yes, twenty years after writing her Burmese poem she'd become bitter. And her attitude to all things Rangoon had soured.

That last verse again:

Oh, if you come to Burma, I will buy a brazen gong
And I'll beat it and I'll sing to you a laughing Burman song.
Oh, can't you feel the magic and the call of old Rangoon
And doesn't Mandalay call out, "Mad Goon - Goon - Goon!"'

Yes, there are three things that link Goon to Hugh. The plot of
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage. The information that Hugh's third wife Ida gives us into his attitude to children when drunk, and the use of Rangoon in The Mystery of the Strange Messages. Oh, and there's the anagram stuff re Theophilus Goon, though I shouldn't mention that as it enrages some people. Please refer to this essay if you want to read the evidence in full.

But for now let's stick with
The Mystery of The Strange Messages. Cos it's worth sticking with.


Let's back-track a bit. The Find-Outers and Ern trace several houses in Peterswood that are covered in ivy. The one that shows most promise is Fairlin Hall, which has an old couple called Smith staying there as caretakers.


I have to say these illustrations from Lilian Buchanan in the Methuen edition are worthy, but a tad dull. None feature the hilarious Mrs Hicks, but instead the above features harmless Mrs Smith.

Fatty goes off to get medicine from the chemist for Mr Smith, who is ill in bed. He then pops into the house agents and learns the address of a gardener that used to work at Fairlin Hall. Bets has the idea of buying a pot plant to help the Find-Outers engage this Mr Grimble in conversation. A motif that provides both a Lilian Buchanan internal illustration and this sweet, dust cover by her. Overkill, I say.


The gardener tells the Find-Outers that Fairlin Hall did indeed used to be called The Ivies. He tells them that a Colonel and Mrs Hasterley used to live there, but there was a scandal and they changed the name of the house. He is too upset to say more.

Thanks to the Fairlin Hall note, Goon is able to tell the Find-Outers that the Smiths real name is Canley and that the man went to prison for selling secrets to a foreign power. For this reason, Goon intends to evict the Smiths, even though Fatty finds out that the man only sold the secrets to get money to pay for his wife's medical bills.

Fatty arranges that Mr Smith be taken to hospital and is sure that his mother will be able to find a temporary home for Mrs Smith. The latter tells Fatty about the real scandal of The Ivies. The Hasterleys' son, Wilfrid, planned the biggest diamond robbery ever heard of! He was caught and died in prison, but the diamonds were never found. Fatty soon works out that it could be his partners, one of whom went to Burma and the other to prison with Wilfrid Hasterley, who may have come back to Fairlin Hall on the prisoner's release, he knowing the diamonds were hidden there.

It's at this point that Fatty dresses up as a rag-and-bone man. While so dressed he makes the silly mistake of going to the house of Mrs Henry - friend of his mother's - to collect her cast-off clothes for a jumble sale. He forgets that he is disguised as a dirty old fellow, with shaggy grey eyebrows and a filthy overcoat. She is horrified to be addressed in polite terms. "Your mother knows me?" And when Mrs Trotteville finds out, she is mortified. Fatty is very supportive of his mother, but is she consistently supportive of him? In this scene, Mrs Trotteville is a mother putting her son under pressure to conform to society's norms. Whereas what Fatty needs is for his exceptional character to be nurtured. He feels obliged to buy her a bunch of red roses (Enid's favourite flower) to placate her. To a limited extent, he becomes the parent of his own mother. The parent of his own creator?

This is perhaps the place to say that there is an awful lot of good and bad parenting going on in this book. Goon is a bad 'father' to Ern. Locking Ern in his room. Breaking promises to Ern. Sending Ern away regardless of Ern's feelings. Fatty almost takes over a parental role by giving him a bed for the night, by praising his work and his character whenever he can. He also tries to help Ern with his moral compass, advising him not to lie his way out of difficult situations, for example.

Let's take look at the last four chapters…


The Find-Outers cycle to Fairlin Hall. They are there to look for the diamonds and soon Bets has her hand down a mouse-hole in the kitchen, which is where Mary Gernat gets the image that adorns the cover of the 1971 hardback. After an hour's search it's getting dark and they've found nothing. Fatty takes Ern back to his house but intends to return to Fairlin Hall to search the coal cellar.

Fatty goes out at 10pm. Secretly and protectively, Ern follows. After searching the coal cellar, Fatty goes back into the house. Standing in the little bathroom, Fatty feels water drip onto his head. This reminds him of something Mrs Smith said. That it was difficult to get cold water out of the taps there. Fatty looks up and wonders why there should be a join in the pipe, held together by an iron band. Could the pipe have been deliberately cut ? Could something have been hidden in the pipe before being fixed together again? Suddenly, Fatty realises that's where the diamonds might be. He reckons that a few big ones would have been jammed in first, so that the diamonds wouldn't be taken down the outlet. (Suspension of disbelief alert. Surely, even if one was going to be daft enough to hide diamonds in a domestic water pipe, one would put them in a plastic bag.) At this point two men come across Fatty who has to shout for help.

Ern hears Fatty's shouts. He hears Fatty being pushed into a broom cupboard. And by listening to the men, realises that Fatty has been knocked out and locked up. Ern goes in search of help, but he's told it's a matter for the police. Anxiously going back into the house, Ern unlocks the cupboard and helps a concussed Fatty to his feet. Goon arrives! And both Buster and Goon end up in the broom cupboard in place of Fatty. What about the men? They see the policeman and so decide to retreat. Then they sense Ern, who hastens their retreat by knocking a row of kettles and pans onto the floor….


…then jumping up and down, shouting: "I'm coming! I'm coming!". The two men (yes, both of them) fall down into the coal cellar, cos Fatty left the lid off. Ern secures it shut and helps the still dazed Fatty home. Leaving Goon locked in the broom cupboard overnight with Buster and some copies of the Rangoon Weekly. No, I just made up that last detail!

In the morning, Fatty congratulates Ern on his fabulous work. Fatty phones the Inspector and then Ern rings the rest of the Find-Outers so that everyone can be at Fairlin Hall for the denouement. Poor old Goon is let out of the cupboard, and the criminals are brought out of the coal cellar and arrested. 'What about the diamonds?' the Inspector asks.

'"Well, sir - come into the bathroom," said Fatty, and everyone squeezed into the tiny bathroom, even Goon. Fatty tapped the cold-water pipe, that still sent out a tiny drip at the loose joint.'

Fatty suggests the diamonds are in the pipe. Goon scoffs at the very idea. A hacksaw is produced and the order given to cut below the loose joint.

'Everyone watched while the Sergeant did a little sawing - then water spurted out - and with it came two small sparkling things that fell to the ground, and lay there, glittering. Fatty pounced on them at once, and dropped them into the Superintendent's hand.'

The pipe is crammed with jewels, which is why the water wouldn't flow properly. A pipe full of diamonds,
'some big, some small, none of them any the worse for having lain in water for so many years.'

Fatty is congratulated. But Fatty turns the attention back to Ern, The final paragraph of the book both begins and ends with the line: 'Good, old Ern.' Yes, Ern has matured. Some are born mature; some achieve maturity; and others have maturity thrust upon them!

To celebrate this fine conclusion let's have Mrs Hicks' guide to hiding diamonds. Or:
How to Store Sparklers

1. Tape to dustbin lid
2. Place in peg-bag
3. Place on coal shovel resting on coal shed.
4. Place in kitchen pantry resting on top of fish fillets (haddock or cod, never pollock or whiting).
5. Place in toilet cistern or, better still, in bowl of said toilet.

Actually, I'm not sure about number 5. For instance, if there's anything that's well-used in the Goon household, it's the flush handle on the cistern. I can see the dreadful scene now: "Better out than in," says Goon, flushing away a giant turd glittering with a squillion quid's worth of diamonds. Therefore:

6. Best of all, place loose in a cold water pipe. Whether that cold water pipe be in the bathroom, the kitchen, the attic or connecting the telly with the ironing board.

Last words to Ern:

"No postman brings me letters,
No name is on my gate,
I once was called The Ivies,
But now I'm out of date.
The garden's poor and weedy,
The trees won't leaf again,
But though I fall to ruin,
diamonds will remain."


The Mystery of the Strange Messages was published in 1957, probably in the lead up to Xmas (October or November was the usual thing) as that had been the pattern since early in the series.

Something happened in 1957 that needs to be juxtaposed with the book. Gillian was due to get married in the summer. Ida thinks it was Babs, aged 14 by this time, who saw an article about it in a magazine. Hugh phoned Green Hedges, hoping to have a chat with his 26-year-old daughter, who he'd last seen when she was ten. (What would they have discussed? The thirteen published books in the Find-Outers series?) Anyway, 22-year-old Imogen fielded the call and said that her sister was out, though she was sitting right there in the room with her at Green Hedges.

So that was that. Except Enid was left with the fear that Hugh might turn up at the wedding and 'make a scene'. Accordingly, she put in place certain security measures at the church in West London for the 17th of August wedding. But there was no need for them. Hugh didn't appear, either as himself or PC Goon.


Here is Enid that August day in London, alongside her grown-up daughter, Gillian, who looks magnificent. Enid, though sporting a radiant smile, looks somehow diminished, even from 1949 when she had still been very much in her prime.


Below is another picture of Enid as she was in the year of Strange Messages. I'd like to say she looked regal, what with the hat, furs, the gloves and the handbag. But the hat is not quite commanding enough, almost as if Enid has come to the wedding of her daughter disguised as a cleaning lady. But I don't want to be unkind. Enid is sixty-years old and she has still got it!


What has she got in her handbag? Oh, the usual things. Notes that might come in handy:




Sudden thought. If I'd been Kenneth Darrell Waters back in the late 1950s, what present would I have given to my still-brilliant wife? The woman who had everything. Or, rather, the woman who had put everything into her books.

I think maybe Kenneth would have studded those books with diamonds. Of course, this is a gross idea. Reminds me of a scene in Evelyn Waugh's
Brideshead Revisited when a character, Rex Mottram, presents his wife with a diamond-studded tortoise. In that case, the diamonds formed her name 'Julia'. All the cool characters thought this the most crass gift imaginable. "I wonder if it eats the same sort of things as an ordinary tortoise," wondered Lady Marchmain.

So I suspect Enid would soon have had the diamonds removed from the spines of her books. In which case the Mysteries would have looked something like this:


Can you picture the row of diamonds a couple of inches up from the foot of the spines? Two of them even studding Enid Blyton's name.

Enid: "Far too ostentatious, Kenneth. I'm going to have to remove them and stick them in a pipe in the bathroom. The cold water tap in the bidet does gush where the sun don't shine of a morning, don't you find?"

And she would have put stickers over the marks left by taking the diamonds away. Stickers that in due course were themselves removed.

Hang on minute. Thanks to pressing on with a joke, I've just realised something serious. Gillian had seven of these books with the markings on the spine, books that had clearly been in the library of Darrell Waters Limited. She had another seven which had been bought from a bookseller (there is pencil writing concerning price on the front end papers of these books). These seven look like this:


Now bear with me here before I say what I think may have happened. Enid died in 1968. Green Hedges was demolished a few years later and the books would have been removed to premises owned by Darrell Waters Limited. In 1989, many books in what had been the Green Hedges collection were photographed for the
The Enid Blyton Story by Bob Mullan.

Wikipedia tells us:
'The London-based entertainment and retail company Trocadero plc purchased Blyton's Darrell Waters Ltd in 1995 for £14.6 million and established a subsidiary, Enid Blyton Ltd, to handle all intellectual properties, character brands and media in Blyton's works. The group changed its name to Chorion in 1998, but after financial difficulties in 2012 sold its assets. Hachette UK acquired from Chorion world rights in the Blyton estate in March 2013.'

Telegraph's obituary of Gillian tells us: 'Although in 1995 Gillian announced that she hoped to buy the copyright in her mother's work herself, the following year Enid Blyton's family sold its interest in her literary estate - the proceeds of 700 titles that sold 400 million copies in 42 languages - for £14 million. With her sister, she was a principal beneficiary of the deal, and for a time remained a consultant to the buyers, Trocadero, now Chorion.'

At some stage, Gillian removed books from Darrell Waters Limited or Enid Blyton Limited. But I think she may have only taken half the books, recognising that her sister, Imogen, was entitled to the other half. Now the sisters had fallen out in 1989 when Imogen published
A Childhood at Green Hedges, which had been critical of Enid's mothering. And certainly by 2002, when Giles Brandreth tried to interview them both, they would not be interviewed together. So there was an estrangement. And it may be that Imogen never took her half of the books. Indeed the book situation may never have been discussed.

When Gillian did take 'her' books, she would have been bearing in mind her mother's own teaching as regards fairness and honesty. Of course half the books belonged to her sister! A couple of the Find-Outers books are pictured in
The Enid Blyton Story. One pertains to this analysis:


The above copy of
Secret Room is not one of the books that Gillian took. As you can see from the next image, there is no sign that there was ever a sticker on Gillian's copy. Also, a bookseller has written a price on the inside front end-page (£20), and the wear on the dust jacket in the bottom left corner - just by the J. Abbey signature - is not as in the illustration.


Why did Gillian not take this particular Darrell Waters Limited book that presumably came from Green Hedges? I suspect because it has Imogen's name inside it. Or Gillian already had her seven books and felt she couldn't take more than her fair share. Any child of Green Hedges is a fair child, a kind child, a clean child, a wise child. A sad child? Oh yes, a bit sad too.


There was a poor old house
That once was full of books,
But now was sad and empty,
No volumes in the nooks.

It said: "They all have left me
The shelves are cold and bare,
The front door's locked and bolted.

It doesn't seem right fair.

"No smoke comes from my chimneys,
No rose grows up my wall,
But only ivy shrouds me,
In green and shining shawl!

"No postman brings kids' letters,
No name is on my gate,
I once was called Green Hedges,
But now I'm out of date.

"The Enchanted Wood's all weedy,
Wishing Chair won't fly again,
But though I fall to ruin,
The Mysteries will remain."

Yes, the Mysteries will remain. Right here in my little house. I'm not even going to give the smallest clue as to where I've hidden each one. Come! - ex-partners of Wilfrid Hasterley, and try and steal 'em. If you think you're sharp enough.


Hachette own the rights to Enid Blyton's books, including the Find-Outers. The
current edition of Strange Messages has a variation of the following cute cover by Timothy Banks. As you can see, Timothy came to my house to research this composition. He found my diamonds (that's him with both arms in the air), but not our - yes, our - Find-Outer books.