I obtained both the signed Biggles and the Blue Moon and the Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea – dedicated to “Mr. Barker” from Mr. Barker’s grandson, Mr. David Peach.


Mr. Peach explained to me that his grandfather used to live in East Molesey, near where W. E. Johns lived at Park House, Hampton Court, Kingston-upon-Thames.


Mr. Peach and his brother have had them in the family since the 1960s.  I subsequently bought them both from him.  Mr. Peach kindly wrote the following for me:-




I am writing in respect of the books we recently sold you, just to give some background as to how we came about owning them.


My grandfather, Roland Barker, ran a car business in East Molesey in Surrey from the 1950s through to 1980 and his sons (my uncles) drove for him after they finished National Service.


He used to drive WE Johns (I am not sure of when or where) but it is clear that as a regular client he gave my grandfather signed and unsigned copies of his books.


As children in the 1970s my brother and I loved Biggles and he gave us the books as gifts.  The signed ones came our way as we were their only Grandchildren.


My Grandfather grew up in Wimbledon and lived in the Ham, Molesey area for his whole life, bar an interlude in the Midlands during the War.


He started the car Company on moving back to East Molesey after the War and after picking up some big Wolseley cars that had been laid up for the duration, at knockdown prices.


My brother and I are glad the books have gone to someone who appreciates them and where they can be appreciated by all Biggles fans.




David Peach




When the Biggles books were published, Johns was usually sent six copies.


I can establish that fact with the opening paragraph of this letter to W. E. Johns from Peter Watt dated 5th December 1947



Examples of multiple copies of his Biggles books can also be seen on Johns’ book shelf in this photograph here:-


Bill Johns is holding this open at page 85 – click on the photo for more info


I like to imagine that Johns probably got these two books from his own shelf, being one of the half a dozen copies sent to him and he signed them for Mr. Barker.


Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea was only published in February 1968, so this must have been signed in the last four months of Johns’ life as he died on 21st June 1968.


Signed copies of Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea are extremely rare.  I only know of two and I own them both.


This must have been one of the last books W. E. Johns actually signed and I like to believe it was from his own personal collection.