The Secret Seven
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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 leader), 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.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Short stories
- 3 Full-length stories
- 3.1 1. The Secret Seven (1949)
- 3.2 2. Secret Seven Adventure (1950)
- 3.3 3. Well Done Secret Seven (1951)
- 3.4 4. Secret Seven on the Trail (1952)
- 3.5 5. Go Ahead Secret Seven (1953)
- 3.6 6. Good Work Secret Seven (1954)
- 3.7 7. Secret Seven Win Through (1955)
- 3.8 8. Three Cheers Secret Seven (1956)
- 3.9 9. Secret Seven Mystery (1957)
- 3.10 10. Puzzle for the Secret Seven (1958)
- 3.11 11. Secret Seven Fireworks (1959)
- 3.12 12. Good Old Secret Seven (1960)
- 3.13 13. Shock for the Secret Seven (1961)
- 3.14 14. Look Out Secret Seven (1962)
- 3.15 15. Fun for the Secret Seven (1963)
- 4 The Society
- 5 Supporting characters
- 6 French series
- 7 Audio drama
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.
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
- The Secret Seven (1949)
- Secret Seven Adventure (1950)
- Well Done Secret Seven (1951)
- Secret Seven on the Trail (1952)
- Go Ahead Secret Seven (1953)
- Good Work Secret Seven (1954)
- Secret Seven Win Through (1955)
- Three Cheers Secret Seven (1956)
- Secret Seven Mystery (1957)
- Puzzle for the Secret Seven (1958)
- Secret Seven Fireworks (1959)
- Good Old Secret Seven (1960)
- Shock for the Secret Seven (1961)
- Look Out Secret Seven (1962)
- Fun for the Secret Seven (1963)
1. The Secret Seven (1949)
In this adventure, Jack finds some men taking a prisoner to the empty old house in the isolated country lane near their house. The seven decide to look into the mystery and make inquiries. They find the prisoner that is being held in the house is a kidnapped horse. They were keeping it in the cellar to dye it a colour.
2. Secret Seven Adventure (1950)
In this adventure, a priceless pearl gets stolen and what's more the Seven witnessed the thief making his escape! This sets the Seven to indulge in the mystery, and Colin and Peter finally manage to get to the culprit with the help of the other five.
3. Well Done Secret Seven (1951)
The secret seven have a new meeting place – a tree house! But somebody else is using it too.
The gang is furious, until they learn that the intruder is in big need of help.
Can the secret seven come to the rescue? They did, and managed to stop a gang of robbers from executing a well-planned theft.
4. Secret Seven on the Trail (1952)
Something mysterious is going on at Tigger's Barn, and the Secret Seven are intrigued. Peter thinks it's all a gossip, but Jack isn't sure when he hears a strange conversation.
5. Go Ahead Secret Seven (1953)
When members of the Secret Seven practise their shadowing skills, George is caught and banned from the Society by his father. Meanwhile, dogs are disappearing, and this seems to be linked with a coalhole in a derelict alley. When the other boys go down there and get captured by the dog thieves, they end up being glad that George has not entirely abandoned his own investigations in the case.
6. Good Work Secret Seven (1954)
The Secret Seven are enjoying a meeting in the trademark shed of Peter and Janet’s back garden a few days before bonfire night. Nibbling away at staple Enid Blyton favourites such as chocolate biscuits, apples, ginger buns, doughnuts, peppermint rock, hazelnuts and nutcrackers, the seven children are enjoying a feast in their well-lit shed, powered by an oil stove, with flower pots and boxes for the children to sit on. Suddenly the annoying Susie knocks on the door of the hideout and correctly shouts the password ‘Guy Fawkes’ much to the dismay of the Seven. Cue a quarrel which leaves poor Jack (Susie’s brother) red in the face after it emerges that utterances in his sleep have led to Susie finding out the password.
However, the excitement and Susie’s slyness are not to end there. Late to the meeting, Colin bursts in with an exciting tale about how he had overheard men quarrelling in the bushes on his journey down. In all the kerfuffle he dropped his torch on the pavement near the bushes and bravely went to pick it up only to discover the men had gone when he flashed it on. But to the joy of all the Seven Colin had found a notebook which contained notes about stolen items from a famous cricketer, and a place where the alleged thieves would meet up to discuss their plan.
Thinking they are in on another adventure, the Seven arrange to travel to the old workmen’s shed at the back of Lane’s garage where the gang are due to meet. Following their arrival, the Seven noticing a light on, creep up to the shed and hear a number of terrifying bangs. Bewildered, Peter peeps through the letterbox and to his astonishment sees Susie and her friends banging paper bags. The angry Seven demand the laughing Susie and her friends come out of the shed, but they only agree after Susie threatens to tell their whole school if the Seven pulled her hair.
Facing the impossible Susie
In despair, Peter and Janet go to see their mother’s old nanny Mrs Penton the next day. After an enjoyable afternoon of cream buns and chocolate éclairs, their father picks them up, taking them to station where he has to collect some parcels. It is here that the adventure of this book starts. Bored and tired, Peter and Janet are about to doze off when two men creep into either side of their dad’s car and drive off. Sensing the fact his dad’s car has been stolen, Peter tells a frightened Janet to crouch down so the two men can not see the two children. Eventually, the two men stop in a part of town that the children do not know, before the driver tells his companion to get in touch with Q8061 about meeting at Sid’s place at five o’clock in the evening.
In the stolen car
Scared but excited, Peter and Janet manage to find a phone box where their shocked dad picks them up. However, their dad does not want to phone the police about the two thieves, meaning it is left to the children to catch the pair.
The next day, Peter and Janet tell the rest of the Seven about the drama the previous day, thrilled, they all agree to search for clues. First, the Seven try Peter and Janet’s dads’ car where, to her delight, Janet finds a spectacle case with a note for ‘Briggs. Renning 2150.’ Jack also finds a button which had fallen off a mac. In light of this, the children search for the address in a telephone directory and find that Mr H.E.J. Briggs lives at Little Hill, Raynes Road, Renning. To their disappointment, this person turns out to be a friend of Peter and Janet’s dad.
Soon things get worse for the Seven when they decide to build a guy for bonfire night in Colin’s summerhouse. Sadly, Scamper comes bursting in to see the children, only to knock a lit candle on to the straw and hay needed to build the guy. Consequently, a fire destroys the guy and burns some of Colin’s summerhouse.
The distraught children are now mourning over their lack of progress in the adventure and the burning of their guy. But a bright idea from Jack involves Peter dressing up as a guy outside Sid’s cafe to be a look-out for the two men who stole his dad’s car turns the adventure for the better. There you have it, Peter ends up dressing as a guy, a wonderful one too with his old pair of patched trousers, great big boots, scarf, big old hat and a wig made of black wool. Down he goes with George, Colin and Jack to the cafe in a wheelbarrow and it is here where the mystery will start. Will Peter and the rest of the boys spot the two men? Will the Secret Seven find out what Q8061 is? Does the button belong to the coats of one of the men? You can only find out by reading this book!
7. Secret Seven Win Through (1955)
The meeting place of the Secret Seven is destroyed by their gardener. The seven are angry but they find a good cave for their meetings.. But somebody else is using it too. It's Susie, Jack's annoying sister who helps them catch the intruder. But finally they win through.
8. Three Cheers Secret Seven (1956)
When Susie's aeroplane lands in a locked up house, Peter and Jack go to fetch it back, and discover a gas fire burning in the house. Who could be there? The Secret Seven want to find out. Will the secret seven report back to the owner of the house or solve the mystery by themselves?What about the gardener?
9. Secret Seven Mystery (1957)
The Secret Seven find that a girl, called Elizabeth Mary Welhemina Sonning, has disappeared after she was blamed for stealing some money from her teacher's desk. They met a stable boy Tom in Warner stable's he told that he met Elizabeth in Gorton. Will the Secret Seven find her, and solve the mystery, or will the police do it first?
10. Puzzle for the Secret Seven (1958)
The Secret Seven witnesses a house burn down, and after that a precious violin stolen. Are the two incidents related?
11. Secret Seven Fireworks (1959)
The seven are shocked as they find out that 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?
12. Good Old Secret Seven (1960)
Someone is hiding in the ruins of Torling Castle. The Secret Seven would be able to find out who, if only Susie and Binkie didn't keep interfering. The boys found out that a gang steals valuable, unframed paintings and also stopped them.
13. Shock for the Secret Seven (1961)
In this story, dogs are disappearing in their village, but before the secret seven can get down to it a fight brews up between Jack and Peter. Jack resigns from the secret seven and they become the secret six, but when Scamper, Peter and Janet's golden spaniel becomes the latest victim the six decide they have to do something. And indeed they do...they get a rabbit instead but unfortunately the rabbit develops an attitude and the six decide to make a stew out of him. Jack goes a bit mental and blows up the secret meeting house before disappearing into the sunset screaming manically.
14. Look Out Secret Seven (1962)
Now that the Secret Seven have Scamper safely back with them, they're beginning to appreciate what a clever and valuable dog he is – he's almost one of the gang! First he discovers an unwanted visitor – then he protects the Seven as they spy on a thief late at night in Bramley woods!
15. Fun for the Secret Seven (1963)
The Secret Seven help Tolly, an old man who lives on the hill, when his horse, Brownie, breaks his legs and his master, a farmer, threatens to shoot him.
- Peter – The society's leader and the most mature of the group.He is very handsome, 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 a 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 12 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.