First Published in paperback on 23rd September 1922 as Number 121 in the Weekly Telegraph Novel series – 78 pages*

under the pseudonym of William Earle (Johns had added an 'E' to his real second name)

*The original book is 24 cms by 16 cms and runs to 96 pages.  Mossyface is the first 78 pages and then pages 79 to 94 are “Hobson’s Choice” by Esther Miller

Republished in 1932 by Mellifont Press as a paperback and then reprinted in hardback by Norman Wright in 1994 - 127 pages




Original first edition – this was originally priced at 7d.  This lovely example is over 100 years old and has just been re-priced with a red sticker showing 6d over the original price of 7d

This picture shows the cover with the original price of 7d.  The red price appears to be printed on.  The 6d price sticker on the one above is larger; you can see how it overlaps the rock in the background whereas the original price doesn’t.



This was originally advertised in THE WEEKLY TELEGRAPH itself.  Above is issue 3155, dated September 30th 1922.  You can see MOSSYFACE advertised at the bottom of page 24 and below you can see a close up of that advert.

The original advert in the September 30th 1922 edition of THE WEEKLY TELEGRAPH



1932 Mellifont reprint of original edition



1994 Norman Wright Reprint.  This was originally issued without any dust jacket.  A fan made dust jacket was later made and an example can be seen next to the plain cover of the original release.

A dust jacket was then designed and created by Andrew Skilleter – and issued in August 2014 to mark 20 years since the 1994 reprint – That is the example that is shown in full on the right.


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.



Subtitled - A Romance of the Air

Publication Details - originally published by Weekly Telegraph Novel


An original illustration from the Norman Wright 1994 reprint of MOSSYFACE – from my own collection – The reprint had four specially commissioned illustrations done by RON TINER and this is one of them.