CHAMPION OF THE MAIN
First Published in June 1938 - 286 pages
This book was serialised in nine parts in “Modern Boy” magazine from Issue 15 (dated 28th May 1938) to Issue 23 (dated 23rd July 1938)
It was also serialised in ten parts as “Champion of the Spanish Main” in “Ranger” Magazine from Issue 11 (dated 27th November 1965) to Issue 20 (dated 29th January 1966)
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Above is the original June 1938 first edition dust jacket – originally priced at 5/- this example has a sticker over with a lower price of 4/- (presumably because it has not sold at the higher price) which says “Including Extra War Costs”! (I have shone a light through it, so you can see the original price).
Above is a COPY dust jacket (taken from an original DJ). Note the yellow background on the spine rather than the white of the first. Is this the second edition wrapper from later in 1938? I don’t have one so I can’t be sure. If anybody does have an original of this I would love to see it!
Above is the original third edition jacket. It is dated 1938 but I suspect it was published 1939 – originally priced at 3/- (not 5/-). Note the border around the main front cover and the placement of the book title at the top rather than bottom. Johns name has also been removed from the front cover!
Here we have the dust jacket for the fourth and last edition – originally priced at 5/- This was the 1949 reprint. (It says inside the book that the first edition was 1939 but that is a mistake, I believe this may be referring to the third edition reprint. The first edition was 1938)
And finally, we have the dust jacket from the French edition “Aux Mains Des Pirates” which translates as “In the Hands of Pirates”. This was published on 30th September 1951. Note how the illustration has been trimmed at either side as it was for a much thinner book.
Set in 1687, young Mark Lawson, aged 15, waits at Port Royal in Jamaica for the return of Captain John Champion. Champion, who is the Captain of a ship named the Rose of England has been out looking for another ship named the Silver Spray. Champion returns with news that the Silver Spray has been taken by that notorious pirate, Gabriel Rochelle, known as "the Butcher". Mark's father, Colonel Lawson, the owner of both ships was aboard the Silver Spray and Mark grieves for his father's certain death. Champion complains to Mark about the corruption in Port Royal and says that the Lieutenant Governor, the Admiralty Judge and Provost-Marshall are all in Rochelle's pay. Mark and Champion go and publicly confront the three Governing Officials and in the resulting melee, a sailor is pushed onto Captain Champion's sword. Sentenced to hang, both Champion and Mark are locked up with another condemned sailor by the name of Will Greenaway. The following morning, all three are saved from the gallows by Champion's loyal crew, led by Dan Sullivan, his Irish Quartermaster. Hoisting a black pirate flag, the Rose of England sails to the Pirate Island of Tortuga. On the way, they save Lieutenant Markham, a Captain of His Majesty's ship, Seahawk, from an attack by the pirate Nick Archer, one of Butcher Rochelle's regular companions. At Tortuga, Mark learns of a plan by Rochelle to attack the Spanish Main (that being the North Coast of South America and the Coast of Panama). Champion has a confrontation with Rochelle but manages to escape. Sailing to a creek by Chagraw River our heroes plan to attack Rochelle on his return and seize his treasure and in the process capture him and bring him to justice. Arriving at the creek and taking on board water, Mark goes exploring. He finds that Rochelle has already arrived and is setting off up river on a planned attack on Puerto Novo. To his astonishment, Mark sees his father being forced to row a boat as a slave. Later, Spanish ships arrive and attack and take the pirates' base. They then send a force of men through the jungle and after the pirates. Mark returns to the Rose of England but finds that it has left. He therefore decides to follow the Spanish, alone, in the hope of saving his father from the pirates. After trekking for days, Mark catches up with the Spanish and tries to sneak through their camp at night in a purloined Spanish uniform. He is captured, but well treated by the Spanish. The following morning Rochelle's pirates attack the Spanish camp and Mark fights with the Spanish. When they are defeated, Mark is captured and about to be executed, when Captain Champion arrives and by guile and bluff manages to obtain Mark's release. Champion has come up only with Mark's servant Pierro and later an escaped prisoner called Ben joins them. With their help, Mark is able to rescue his father and they all then travel back to the mouth of the Chagraw River to get away. Rochelle and his pirates pursue them. Soon another set of pirates led by Rochelle's son come up from the river and Champion and his men are caught in-between both groups. Champion uses another clever ruse to set both groups fighting and our heroes escape back to the sea where the Rose of England is waiting. Here a shock awaits. The ship has been captured by Nick Archer and his men, the pirate last seen being sent off to jail to await hanging after the attack on the Seahawk. A shark kills Ben when he attempts to escape torture. Will Greenaway is hidden onboard and he is able to prevent the execution of Champion, Mark, and his father by threatening to set fire to the powder kegs and blow up the ship. A Spanish ship arrives and attacks the pirates but this turns out to contain the real crew from the Rose of England and Rochelle is captured. Two Royal Naval frigates then arrive and Champion are Mark are arrested and to be hanged on the authority of warrants issued by the corrupt officials from Port Royal. The new Governor of the West Indies was a prisoner of the pirates and he is able to confirm what really happened and that Champion is no pirate. A trap is then set to obtain confessions from the corrupt officials of Port Royal. Rochelle is hanged and the corrupt officials whose guilt is revealed, in due course follow him to the gallows.
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Champion of the Main
Subtitle - none
Publication Details - originally published by Oxford University Press
Above are the spines of all FOUR editions. The first edition with the row boat on the spine is approximately 54 mm wide. It was later reprinted slightly thinner at approximately 48 mm wide.
The third edition has a different design to the spine and boards and is approximately 42 mm wide. The fourth and final edition has a plain spine and boards and is approximately 30 mm wide.
You can tell if you have the second edition as the second edition (and third edition) has a small asterix in the bottom right-hand corner of the title page (the first page saying “Champion of the Main”).
Frontispiece of first edition
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Map of the Spanish Main on the front (and end boards) of the first edition of the book
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