About the Secret Seven
Article by Nakul Datar (March 17, 2005)
The Secret Seven were intended for a younger audience, but were chronologically written after the Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers and Dog—the Secret Seven novels started in 1949 while the latter two series started in 1942 and 1943 respectively. Before the novels came the short stories. The first one appeared as "The Wonderful Adventure" (1924), and though the storyline is missing from most sources, I found a couple of sources corroborating the fact that this was the first appearance of the characters. It seems as if Blyton did not have a full-blown series in mind at this juncture.
After a hiatus from the characters that extended for 23 whopping years, "At Seaside Cottage" introduced Peter, his sister Janet, and their golden spaniel Scamper. It was written in 1924, and was a three-part story. The inception of the Secret Seven was described in The Secret of The Old Mill, a short novel, and takes a different approach as compared to the The Secret Seven. A compilation of the Secret Seven short stories was published in 1997 and contains the following stories:
- The Secret of Old Mill (1948) (short novel)
- The Humbug Adventure (1954)
- Adventure on the Way Home (1955)
- An Afternoon with the Secret Seven (1956)
- Where Are the Secret Seven? (1956)
- Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry! (1957)
The list above is published on Michael Edwards' page. He also lists nine books written in French by Evelyne Lallemand and then translated by Anthea Bell. However, since these do not make up the "real" Secret Seven series, I am not including them here.
Parallels and intersections
Most of Enid Blyton's adventure series have some themes in common, and the Secret Seven series is no exception. The children try to solve the mysteries without much help from grown-ups, the grown-ups are disapproving of the Seven's penchant for finding mysteries (or the other way round), and the real action starts two thirds of the way through the book—the first part being devoted to meetings, cake and the quintessential ginger beer.
But the Secret Seven Series is different in quite a few aspects from the Famous Five and Five Find-Outers. None of the children of the Seven go to boarding schools, so they solve mysteries in tandem with schoolwork. The policemen are actually helpful. It is one of the few series where the lead characters have few allies. In fact, they have a rival in the form of Jack's annoying sister Susie, who starts her own 'Secret Seven' at one point.
The village that the children live in has woods surrounding it, and there is a hill nearby—identical geographically to the Find-Outers' village—but the names of the wood and the hill are different. (It's Christmas Hill in the Five Find-Outers' village, but I don't think the one in Secret Seven's village has a name.) There is a river in the woods in both books. Most interestingly, though, Blyton mentions that the setting for the Secret Seven is 'Peterswood'...Hmm. Where the Five Find-Outers live?
Start your own Society
If you have read the Secret Seven or the Five Find-Outers and Dog mystery series, you may have had dreams about your own secret society. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Recruit members by common interest—it doesn't have to be solving mysteries :)
- Think up a name that represents your society
- Decide on a meeting place
- Schedule regular meetings
- Plan activities so that members will be interested
- Most importantly, enjoy the company!
- You can go further like the Seven, and come up with a badge, a secret password, themes etc. You can even build a tree house as your HQ.