THE EAGLE – NUMBER 16 – DATED 28 JULY 1950
The first story by W. E. Johns to appear in “The Eagle” appeared in the above issue. Number 16 – dated 28th July 1950
But you wouldn’t have known it unless you had read BIGGLES – CHARTER PILOT
This 16th issue of “The Eagle” featured a story called “THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF HAIRY HARRY” by Chesney MacGuire
But Mr. MacGuire had clearly lifted the bulk of the story from “The Adventure of the Musty Mammoth”, changed it slightly and passed it off as his own.
“The Adventure of the Musty Mammoth” was, of course, written by W.E. Johns – original published in the September 1942 issue of Boy’s Own Paper
and then later collected in Biggles – Charter Pilot and published in July 1943.
The matter was bought to Captain W. E. Johns’ attention by a young fan called Richard C. May and that prompted Johns to write to his agent,
Peter Watt at A.P. Watt & Son. This was done very quickly as the letters are sent within days of the 28th July 1950 date of the offending issue
The reply from Peter Watt, to Bill Johns, dated 1st August 1950 is below:-
Later correspondence confirmed the following:-
Anyway, suffice to say it was passed to their solicitors because in a “mammoth” (excuse the pun) letter
written on 5th September 1950, Peter was saying this:-
by 9th September 1950, Peter was agreeing with Johns’ suggestion that any fee
for the story should be split between Oxford University Press and Johns himself.
This letter has other contents of interest …….. including the fact that Bill Johns was signing a new
agreement with Hodder & Stoughton for FOUR new Biggles books, with an advance of £400.00 on each one