The Secret Seven
The first edition of the first book, titled The Secret Seven
|Genre||Children's literature, mystery|
|Published in English||1949–1963|
|No. of books||15|
The Secret Seven consists of Peter (the society's head), Janet (Peter's Sister), Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin. Jack's sister Susie and her best friend Binkie often make an appearance in the books; they hate the Secret Seven and delight in playing tricks designed to humiliate them, although much of this is fuelled by their almost obsessive desire to belong to the society.
Unlike most other Blyton series, this one takes place during the school term time because the characters go to day schools.
The names Secret Seven and Famous Five had already been used by author Charles Hamilton, under the pen-name Frank Richards, in his long-running series of stories featuring Billy Bunter and Greyfriars School. The Secret Seven was the name of a secret society that featured in a series of eleven stories published in The Magnet magazine in 1934; the term "Famous Five" dates from 1910 and is applied to a group of the leading characters: Harry Wharton, Frank Nugent, Bob Cherry, Johnny Bull and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh.
It is not clear whether Enid Blyton was influenced by Hamilton's work. Blyton's elder daughter, Gillian Baverstock, describes a conversation between the author and her publisher that led to the inception of Blyton's Secret Seven. The publisher's own children, the eldest of whom was named Peter, had formed a secret society with their friends. They met in an old shed, used secret passwords and had badges inscribed with "SS".
After corresponding with the real-life Peter, in 1948 Blyton published her first Secret Seven story, which describes how her fictional society came to be formed. This was a short story titled "The Secret of the Old Mill". It followed an earlier short story, "At Seaside Cottage", which introduced the leading characters Peter and Janet prior to the formation of the society. There followed a further five short stories and fifteen full-length books.
The Secret Seven appeared in seven short stories by Blyton, including a mini-novella explaining how the society was formed. These were left uncollected until 1997, when all but "At Seaside Cottage" were published in a single volume by Hodder Children's Books under the title of Secret Seven: Short Story Collection.
- At Seaside Cottage (1947) – first published as a complete short story book
- Secret of the Old Mill (1948) – first published in "Secret of the Old Mill"
- The Humbug Adventure (1954) – first published in Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.1
- Adventure on the Way Home (1955) – first published in Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.2
- An Afternoon with the Secret Seven (1956) – first published in Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.3
- Where Are the Secret Seven? (1956) – first published in the strip book of the same name
- Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry! (1957) – first published in Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.4
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- The Secret Seven (1949) In this, the Secret Seven's first adventure together, Jack's adventure on a snowy night leads them to an old house, a deaf caretaker and a thrilling mystery!
- Secret Seven Adventure (1950) A pearl thief and a strange man in the Little Thicket lead the Secret Seven to a circus field. But what is the secret of the lions and what did One-Leg William have to do with the burglary?
- Well Done Secret Seven (1951) The secret seven build a new summer place—a tree house! But after meeting a dirty boy and his kitten, can they put their collection of strange clues together to solve the mystery before it's too late?
- Secret Seven on the Trail (1952) A trick by Susie and her infuriating Famous Five group send George and Jack on a trek to Tigger's Barn. But when the boys end up at a rail yard on a dark, foggy November night, things really get dangerous!
- Go Ahead Secret Seven (1953) A little shadowing practice puts the Seven on the trail of a man who apparently shoves dogs down a coal hole. Who is waiting below, and what is happening to the valuable dogs?
- Good Work Secret Seven (1954) Peter and Janet's father's car is stolen—with them inside! But rather than feel sorry for themselves, the Seven investigate—and keep watch on the mysterious Sid's Place. And what on earth is Q8061?
- Secret Seven Win Through (1955) The Seven are evicted from their shed while it is painted, and find a glorious new meeting place—a cave! But when there is a strange intruder, a mystery begins—who is Albert Tanner, and what is the excitement surrounding the scarecrow?
- Three Cheers Secret Seven (1956) Susie's model aeroplane launches the Secret Seven into their next adventure—who is using the top room in the empty Barlett Lodge, and why?
- Secret Seven Mystery (1957) When a schoolgirl is reported missing the Seven begin their search, with Susie hindering them at every turn. Where is Elizabeth Sonning, and who stole the money from her school?
- Puzzle for the Secret Seven (1958) The Seven witness a house fire, and help the family in need to rebuild their lives—but who stole a valuable violin, and what is making the baffling wailing noises on the hills at night?
- Secret Seven Fireworks (1959) What a shock for the Secret Seven when Jack's annoying sister forms a rival club called the Tiresome Three. But surely Susie wouldn't really steal their guy's clothes and firework money? And who are the nasty looking men lurking in the hut on Peter's farm?
- Good Old Secret Seven (1960) Jack's new telescope promised hours of fun until Susie claimed her half share. But after Janet spots a strange face at the window of Torling Castle, The Seven must investigate.
- Shock for the Secret Seven (1961) Dogs are going missing all over town, and when poor Scamper also disappears and they also suddenly become the Secret Six, can they find it within themselves to solve the mystery? Its Jack who finally finds the clue to end the mystery.
- Look Out Secret Seven (1962) Medals belonging to a kindly old General have gone missing, and Colin promises to find them—but what can they do when there are no clues and the police are baffled?
- Fun for the Secret Seven (1963) Poor old Tolly and his horse have been treated badly, and the Seven are determined to help. But when horse thieves strike, they must protect Peter and Janet's beloved horses as well as Tolly
- Peter – The society's leader and the most mature of the group. He is intelligent and knows how to handle situations. He is very sensitive and gets angry very easily. His teasing attitude is very familiar with the viewers of the book. Although he is a very strong and capable leader, he can be bossy and is occasionally downright unreasonable (particularly about wearing badges and remembering the password), reducing Pam and Barbara to tears, and on one occasion, causing Jack to temporarily leave the group. He, Janet and Jack are often more attached with each other than other members of the group. Peter sometimes teases his sister, but acknowledges her as a good member of the Society.
- Janet – Peter's sister and second-in-command to Peter. Janet is very good at noticing things and remembering them. She is a lot more headstrong than the other girls in the group and her arch-enemy is Susie. She is a lot braver than the other girls and also takes her work seriously. She is very good friends with Pam. She also gets well along with Jack. She thinks of many good ideas. She is also quite messy, and takes too long to write if she tries to write neatly.
- Jack – Peter's best friend. He is one of the most efficient group members, and is frequently annoyed with his younger sister, Susie, who takes advantage of his tendency to forget the password. He gets along well with everyone in the group, especially Peter, but is also the only member who will willingly stand up to Peter when he feels that he is behaving unreasonably, to the extent that he once walked out on the group after an argument with him (although he reconciled with them at the end). He lives very near to Peter and Janet. He thinks Janet is lot better than the other girls and wishes Susie was like Janet.
- Pam – A girl at Janet's school. Her best friend is Barbara and she giggles a lot. She is also good friends with Janet. Her full first name is Pamela. She sometimes proves herself a worthy member of the Secret Seven by getting brainwaves[clarification needed], but is sometimes careless, such as yelling out the password and squealing when Peter was nearly pushed out of their "secret" treehouse.
- Barbara – Another girl at Janet's school. She and Pam generally work (and giggle) together when looking for clues or information. They are out a lot together, such as not being able to turn up to a meeting because they are going to the same party. Barbara was the only member to be chosen by Peter: the other four were all selected by Janet.
- Colin – A boy at Peter's school. Colin is quite a valuable member of the society, though perhaps the quietest of the boys. He has a very large family, most of whom live with him. He finds his family tiresome and is afraid of the dark. He also made the mystery in "Secret Seven Adventure" warm up when he saw a man escaping from Lady Thomas's house.
- George – A boy at Peter's school. His best friend is Colin. George's father once banned him from the society, but he later realized his mistake and let George rejoin. Not much else is known about him, as he is rather undeveloped as a character.
Scamper – Janet and Peter's pet dog and beloved companion. He is not an official member of the Secret Seven, but the children count him as one, due to his regular usefulness in the denouement of the stories. He has temporarily filled in for members when they have left the group for any reason. He is a friendly golden English Cocker Spaniel. He loves food, especially biscuits.
- Susie – Jack's younger sister who frequently aggravates him and the Society which she enjoys humiliating and tormenting with her quick wit. However, this stems from her burning desire to join the Society, which Peter regularly refuses her. This is actually something of a disadvantage for Peter, as Susie is considerably more clever and cunning than some of the other members, especially Barbara and Pam, and would potentially be a more valuable member. The Seven occasionally make a temporary truce with Susie, and sometimes she helps them solve the mysteries.
- Binkie – Susie's best friend, who stays with her sometimes. Binkie is described as being very stupid and idiotic, but can sometimes make up very clever, but rude songs and poems about the Seven.
- Jeff – A friend of Susie's, who appears as her sidekick in a few of the earlier books. He plays a similar role to Binkie, who had not appeared at that point.
- Bony - Susie's and Jack's French friend who appears in one book . His real name is Jean Baptiste Boneparte. He is very timid, shy and loves dogs. Dogs love him too and are often attracted to him. He is more friendly towards Susie than to Jack and is often annoyed with the S.S . He had been a member of Susie's club for a few days before he returned to France and soon after that the club broke up.
- Jack the farmer – Jack the farmer is Peter and Janet's father. He is not as strict as some parents of the day, but has taught Peter some very strong ideas about right and wrong.
- Peter and Janet's mother – Peter and Janet's mother is very supportive of the Secret Seven and the good work that they do. She frequently provides snacks for the meetings.
- Jack's mother – Unlike Peter's mother, Jack's mother does not think the Secret Seven is particularly important and gets angry when Jack puts all his effort into fulfilling Peter's wishes although she does sometimes provide for the Seven.
- Matt the Shepherd – Peter's father's colleague, who works on the farm. He has a dog called Shadow who is stolen in a mystery but is later recovered.
- Shadow - Matty the good old shepherd's strong, heavy shepherd dog who loves his master very much. Matt too loves him like a brother. He is stolen in a mystery in the book Shock for Secret Seven but is later recovered.
- The Inspector – The police inspector who the Secret Seven always report the cases to. He has become a good friend of the Seven
- Postie the Postman – Postie was the postman of the area and almost all dogs were attracted towards him. He was found to be criminal in the book Shock for Secret Seven and was jailed.
- The Gardener – Peter and Janet's gardener, who has a very bad temper but can be witty.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Evelyne Lallemand wrote an additional series of 11 books about the Secret Seven, nine of which were translated into English by Anthea Bell and published in paperback by Knight Books. The English translations were published between 1983 and 1986. The full French series is as follows:
- Les Sept à la chasse au lion 1976 (English title: The Seven and the Lion Hunt; English no.: 1)
- Les Sept font du cinéma 1977 (English title: The Seven on Screen; English no.: 6)
- Les Sept et le magicien 1977 (English title: The Seven and the Magician; English no.: 3)
- Les Sept sont dans de beaux draps 1978 (English title: The Seven Go Haunting; English no.: 2)
- Les Sept et les bulldozers 1978 (English title: The Seven to the Rescue; English no.: 5)
- Les Sept et la déesse d'or 1979 (English title: The Seven Strike Gold; English no.: 4)
- Les Sept et les soucoupes volantes 1979 (English title: The Seven and the UFOs; English no.: 7)
- Les Sept à 200 à l'heure 1980 (English title: The Seven and the Racing Driver; English no.: 9)
- Les Sept ne croient pas au père Noël 1981 (English title: The Seven and Father Christmas; English no.: 8)
- Les Sept saluent Lucky Star 1982 (The Seven greet Lucky Star)
- Les Sept et la boule de cristal 1984 ( The Seven and the crystal ball)
An English Audio drama adaptation with some episodes was published.