The Castafiore Emerald

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The Castafiore Emerald
(Les Bijoux de la Castafiore)
Tintin is looking at us, signaling us to stay quiet, as Castafiore is being filmed for television in the background while at Marlinspike Hall.
Cover of the English edition
Date 1963
Series The Adventures of Tintin
Publisher Casterman
Creative team
Creator Hergé
Original publication
Published in Tintin magazine
Issues 665 – 726
Date of publication 4 July 1961 – 4 September 1962
Language French
Publisher Methuen
Date 1963
  • Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper
  • Michael Turner
Preceded by Tintin in Tibet (1960)
Followed by Flight 714 (1968)

The Castafiore Emerald (French: Les Bijoux de la Castafiore) is the twenty-first volume of The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. It was serialised weekly from 4 July 1961 to 4 September 1962 in Tintin magazine. The book was considered as an antithesis of the previous Tintin books as Hergé delibrately broke the adventure genre he had created, making it the only book in the Tintin series where the characters remain at Marlinspike Hall and do not venture to another part of the world. The story tells of opera singer Bianca Castafiore's holiday visit to Marlinspike Hall, and the subsequent theft of her Emerald, which was gifted to her by the Maharajah of the fictional province of Gopal.

Although The Castafiore Emerald received critical acclaim for making its characters follow a lead of false trails, it never achieved the public recognition it merited due to the experimental nature of its narrative. The book was published as a book by Casterman shortly after its conclusion. Hergé continued The Adventures of Tintin with Flight 714, while the series itself became a defining part of the Franco-Belgian comics tradition. The story was adapted for the 1991 animated series The Adventures of Tintin by Ellipse and Nelvana.


Tintin and Captain Haddock are walking through the countryside when they come across a Romani community camped in a garbage dump. They find a girl named Miarka, who belongs to the community and bring her back to them. Haddock and Tintin learn that the community were forced to stay at the site by the police, who forbade them to use any other location. Haddock then invites them to camp on the grounds of his estate, Marlinspike Hall.[1]

Shortly afterwards, Bianca Castafiore, the famous opera diva and scourge of Haddock, decides to invite herself to Marlinspike Hall for a vacation. All manner of mayhem ensues. For some time, one of the marble steps leading to the foyer in Marlinspike Hall has had a plate-sized chip; Haddock has been waiting for the stonemason, Mr. Arthur Bolt, who has been avoiding him. On hearing of Bianca's impending visit, Haddock rushes to pack for a trip away from Marlinspike Hall. In his haste, Haddock misses the yet unrepaired step and sprains his ankle. The doctor arrives, examines Haddock, and insists upon putting his foot and ankle in a cast while imposing a minimum of a fortnight's bed rest. Castafiore then arrives with her maid, Irma, and pianist, Igor Wagner and her Jewels. Castafiore presents a parrot for Hadock called "Iago" to keep as a pet.[2]

Compounding Haddock's problems, two over-zealous reporters from the magazine, Paris Flash, concoct a story claiming that Haddock and Castafiore intend to get married, following a misinterpreted conversation with Professor Calculus. This results in an avalanche of congratulations from Haddock's friends. Soon after, Haddock discovers to his horror, the rumours of his engagement spread by the tabloids. He is forced to accommodate an entire television crew, who occupy Marlinspike Hall for conducting an interview with Castafiore, during which a mysterious photographer, Gino, appears with the crew. Suddenly, Irma informs Castafiore that her Jewels are stolen, Tintin suspects Gino, who runs away when there is a temporary power cut, to be the thief. Castafiore, however, finds the case containing her Jewels, stating that she had forgotten she brought them from her room. The next day, an angry Castafiore shows Tintin and Haddock a copy of the magazine, Tempo Di Roma, with the front cover showing a picture of Castafiore taken at Marlinspike Hall without her permission. Tintin discovers that Gino was a reporter working for the magazine and not a thief.[3]

A few days later, Castafiore's Emerald, given to her by the Maharajah of the fictional province of Gopal, goes missing. After initially questioning Irma and Nestor, the detectives Thomson and Thompson suspect the Romani community to be responsible for the theft after interrogating Calculus, who inavertedly speaks about them. Their suspicions are justified when they find a Golden Scissors, found by Miarka, belonging to Irma. But soon the time comes for Castafiore to leave for Milan to perform an opera. When Tintin finds out from Castafiore that the name of the opera is called La gazza ladra (Italian: The Theiving Magpie), he realises that the true culprit responsible for the theft of the Emerald and the scissors is a Magpie, explaining later to Haddock that the scissors must have fallen out of the nest, leading to Miarka finding it. Tintin's explanation leads to the Romani community being vindicated. Tintin then retrieves the Emerald and hands it to Thomson and Thompson, who then return it to Castafiore. Mr. Bolt mends the broken step soon after, only to be damaged again by Haddock.[4]


"When I began this book, my aim was to tell a story where nothing happened. Without resorting to anything exotic. I simply wanted to see if I could keep the reader in suspense till the end."

Hergé in an interview with Numa Sadoul.[5]


Whenever previously Captain Haddock had praised life in the countryside, it was a sure sign that Tintin was about to go on another adventure with Haddock having to trail after him. After having spent years devising strip cartoon adventures, Hergé decided on this occasion to deliberately break the classic adventure mould and give Haddock his long expressed wish to stay put, but with the adventure itself moving to Marlinspike Hall.[6] This was the first and last adventure after The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) to be set entirely in Belgium,[7] and also the only book in the Tintin series where the characters remain at Marlinspike Hall and do not venture to another part of the world.[8] The titles that Hergé had previously considered for the book were: The Castafiore Affair, Castafiore's Sapphire, The Castafiore Jewels and The Captain and the Nightingale, but The Castafiore Emerald slowly, but eventually, emerged as the favourite.[9] The book was also the first one he wrote after marrying Fanny Vlamynck.[10]

The newly introduced character in the book was the elusive stonemason, Mr. Arthur Bolt (M. Boullu in the original French version.), whose characterisation was based on a person who actually worked for Hergé.[6] In page 17 of the book, Jolyon Wagg mentions Castafiore's Emerald to be a gift from, in his own words, "some character, Marjorie something or other...", to which Castafiore corrects Wagg by saying it was from the Maharajah of Gopal.[11] The Maharajah of Gopal does not make an appearance in The Adventures of Tintin, but is one of the titular characters in another adventure, The Valley of the Cobras (1956), which is a part of another Franco-Belgian comics series created by Hergé, The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko.[12] Hergé also introduced the Romani people, a sect of which a glimpse was shown earlier in Destination New York (1951), another book from The Adventures of Jo, Zette and Jocko.[13]

The Castafiore Emerald was also one of the few instances of romance is seen in The Adventures of Tintin, which begins when Calculus breeds a new variety of white-coloured roses, and names it "Bianca" in honour of Castafiore. At her departure, Calculus presents a bouquet of the roses he created to Castafiore, who happily receives them and embraces Calculus, kissing him in the process. Unlike Haddock, Calculus willingly accepts it and blushes.[14] The reporter and the photographer, Christopher Willoughby-Droupe and Marco Rizotto (Jean-Loup de la Battelerie and Walter Rizotto respectively in the original French version) of the Paris Flash appear initially in The Black Island (1938).[a]


Castafiore's mention of Calculus' "ascents in balloons" is a reference to Auguste Piccard, upon whom Calculus was modelled.[14]

The incident of the unwelcome band playing outside Marlinspike Hall, called the "Marlinspike Prize Band" (Harmoniw de Moulinsart in the original French version), was based on a similar experience of Hergé's who was also obliged to serve them with drinks. To add insult to injury, they gave a toast to "Spirou", the cartoon character created by Robert Velter.[17] Another influence for the band was a cutting of the "L'Orpheon France" band.[17] Whenever Castafiore fears her jewels her stolen, her expressions, which involve placing her hands on her face, were influenced by a photograph of her model in real life, Maria Callas, taken by Cecil Beaton in 1957.[12] In page 43 of the book, Tintin is shown reading Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883), which was also one of Hergé's favourite books.[18]

The book alludes to the well-known French weekly Paris Match in its depiction of the reporters from the magazine, Paris Flash, and jibes at its reputation for the questionable accuracy of the articles.[17] Hergé's use of the word Paris Flash is also based on a previous encounter of his with the Paris Match when it featured an "error-ridden" article on him.[19] It also mentions a fashion designing company named Tristan Bior, based upon the French luxury goods company, Christian Dior.[17] Andy (André in the original French version.), the director of the Television crew belonging to the fictional company, Supavision, was compared by Michael Farr to an employee of Belgian Television, Jacques Cogniaux.[18] In a tribute to Auguste Piccard, Professor Calculus' model in real life, Castafiore greets him as a famous balloonist.[14]


The Castafiore Emerald was serialised weekly from 4 July 1961 to 4 September 1962 in Tintin magazine and published as a book by Casterman in 1963.[18] For the English version of the book, the gramophone record that Tintin receives from Castafiore, which is the "Jewel Song" from Charles Gounod's Faust, is titled "Margarethe", the name by which Gounod's opera is known in Germany but not in England.[18]

The Castafiore Emerald was the first book in The Adventures of Tintin that was published in England the same year — 1963 — it was published in Belgium and France.[18] When Hergé read the English version of the book,[b] he found it to be "absolutely delirious" and even suggested to the book's translator, "You really would think that this was originally written in English."[20]



  1. ^ The duo are unnamed in The Black Island,[15] with their names revealed by Castafiore in The Castafiore Emerald.[16]
  2. ^ Stated by Pierre Assouline as the "British edition".[20]


  1. ^ Hergé 1963, pp. 1–4.
  2. ^ Hergé 1963, pp. 5–10.
  3. ^ Hergé 1963, pp. 11–42.
  4. ^ Hergé 1963, pp. 43–62.
  5. ^ Sadoul 1975, p. 70; Farr 2001, p. 176.
  6. ^ a b Farr 2001, p. 171.
  7. ^ Thompson 1991, p. 113.
  8. ^ Farr 2001, p. 168.
  9. ^ Assouline 2009, p. 195.
  10. ^ Peeters 2012, p. 288.
  11. ^ Hergé 1963, p. 17.
  12. ^ a b Farr 2007, p. 72.
  13. ^ Matras 2015, p. 204.
  14. ^ a b c Farr 2001, p. 176.
  15. ^ Hergé 1963, p. 61.
  16. ^ Hergé 1963, p. 22.
  17. ^ a b c d Farr 2001, p. 172.
  18. ^ a b c d e Farr 2001, p. 175.
  19. ^ Lofficier & Lofficier 2002, p. ?.
  20. ^ a b Assouline 2009, p. 196.


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