First Published in paperback on 23rd September 1922 as Number 121 in the Weekly Telegraph Novel series
under the pseudonym of William Earle (Johns had added an 'E' to his real second name)
Republished in hardback by Norman Wright in 1994 - 127 pages
I AM INTERESTED IN BUYING A FIRST OR SECOND EDITION OF THIS BOOK (I.E. NOT THE NORMAN WRIGHT VERSION) SO IF YOU HAVE ONE PLEASE E-MAIL ME AT
This book introduces us to Johns' first ever character, Captain James Margerson M.C., D.F.C. and Croix de Guerre nicknamed "Mossyface" (or 'Mossy' for short). The nickname, we are told, could come from a number of sources. In the First World War, Margerson used to be fond of shooting up German guns at 'Mossyface' wood (a location familiar to Biggles fans). Margerson was also fond of cards, but unlucky. Many games involved the use of a joker that was often referred to as 'Mossyface'. In any event, we first meet Margerson when he saves Mr. Augustus Graham and his daughter, Mary, from an armed intruder in the grounds of their garden, where Margerson was sleeping rough. The Grahams' house is under siege (a plot device Johns would use on more than one occasion, not only in the Biggles books 'The Cruise of the Condor’ and ‘Biggles Hits the Trail' but also in his adult thriller ‘The Man Who Lost His Way’). Graham has ancient documents, which reveal the whereabouts of an ancient Egyptian temple containing ancient treasures. Others want the documents, hence the siege. Margerson comes up with the idea of buying an aircraft and flying to Egypt to find the treasure. With the help of his old gunner, Tommy Vincent, this is what they do. Vincent is sent on weeks in advance to buy and organise the petrol supplies needed. Margerson rescues Graham and Mary from their house and they all fly to Egypt to meet up with Vincent. Eventually discovering the temple, Graham and Margerson find no treasure at all. Returning to camp, they find that hostile Arabs have attacked. All their native bearers are dead. Tommy Vincent has been wounded and left for dead and Mary has been kidnapped. Formulating a daring plan and getting a recovering Vincent to fly the plane, Margerson parachutes in front of the escaping raiders and is able to rescue Mary. When the plane comes back to pick them up, Margerson has to fight off Arabs and has to be left behind, although Mary is saved. Further dramatic adventures follow as Margerson has to fight for his life and make his way back to England to be with the women he loves and who loves him.
Subtitle - A Romance of the Air
Publication Details - originally published by Weekly Telegraph Novel
Original first edition – this was originally priced at 7d – below is what appears to be a different copy, but that copy has just been re-priced with a sticker showing 6d.
If anyone has a copy of this for sale, please e-mail me!
1932 Mellifont reprint of original edition
1932 Mellifont reprint of original edition but showing the spine
1994 Norman Wright Reprint
Rare Cover made for some copies of the 1994 Reprint
The dust jacket below was designed and created by Andrew Skilleter – and issued in August 2014 to mark 20 years since the 1994 reprint – You can order this direct from Andrew by clicking on the full cover below