The Enid Blyton Society
Five on a Treasure Island
Back Book 1 of 22 in this category Next

Book Details...

First edition: 1942
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Reviews by Terry Gustafson & Matt Tompkins
Further Illustrations

1. 1951 Hodder & Stoughton, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper
2. 1967 Knight, illustrations by Eileen A. Soper, cover by Betty Maxey
3. 1969 Knight, illustrations by Eileen A. Soper, cover by Betty Maxey
4. 1970 Knight, illustrations by Eileen A. Soper, cover by Betty Maxey
5. 1974 Brockhampton, illustrations and cover by Betty Maxey
6. 1977 Longmans, illustrations and cover by Sheila Bewley
7. 1978 Knight, illustrations by Betty Maxey, cover from 1st TV Series
8. 1979 John Murray, illustrations and cover by Lis Bo
9. 1979 Hodder & Stoughton, illustrations by Jolyne Knox, cover from 1st TV Series
10. 1983 Knight, illustrations by Betty Maxey, cover uncredited
11. 1985 Chivers, illustrations by Jolyne Knox, cover uncredited
12. 1986 Hodder & Stoughton, illustrations by Jolyne Knox, cover uncredited
13. 1986 Klett, not illustrated, cover from 1957 Film
14. 1987 Knight, illustrations by Betty Maxey, cover by Andrew Lloyd-Jones
15. 1991 Knight, not illustrated, cover uncredited
16. 1992 Hodder & Stoughton, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (facsimile edition)
17. 1992 Fabbri, illustrations by Eileen A. Soper, cover uncredited
18. 1993 Award, illustrations by Jolyne Knox, cover uncredited
19. 1994 Hodder, not illustrated, cover uncredited
20. 1995 Hodder, not illustrated, cover by David Barnett
21. 1996 Hodder, not illustrated, cover from 2nd TV Series
22. 1997 Hodder, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper
23. 1997 Hodder, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (hardback)
24. 2000 Hodder, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (colour edition)
25. 2001 Hodder, not illustrated, cover by Richard Jones
26. 2004 Karo, not illustrated, cover uncredited
27. 2005 Paperview, not illustrated, cover by Thomas De Coster
28. 2006 BCA, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (hardback)
29. 2009 Lektorklett, not illustrated, cover from 1957 Film
30. 2010 Hodder, not illustrated, cover by Adrian Chesterman
31. 2012 Hodder, not illustrated, cover by Quentin Blake
32. 2013 Birch Tree Publishing, not illustrated, cover by Eileen A. Soper
33. 2015 Birch Tree Publishing, not illustrated, cover by Eileen A. Soper
34. 2015 Hodder, illustrations by Babette Cole, cover by Quentin Blake (hardback)
35. 2015 Hodder, illustrations by Babette Cole, cover by Quentin Blake (large paperback)
36. 2017 Hodder, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (hardback)
37. 2017 Hodder, not illustrated, cover by Laura Ellen Anderson
38. 2017 Hodder, illustrations and cover by Eileen A. Soper (paperback)
39. 2017 Hodder, illustrations by Eileen A. Soper (hardback)

Dustwrapper from the 1965 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1956 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

1st American edition published by Thomas Y. Crowell in 1950,
illustrated by Vera Neville

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg in 1953,
illustrated by C. Benedek with the title Five Friends Explore Treasure Island

Early German reprint published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1964,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde erforschen die Schatzinsel
French: Le Club des Cinq et le Tresor de l'Isle
Dutch: De Vijf en het gestrande goudschip
Spanish: Los Cinco y el tesoro de la isla
Portuguese: Os Cinco na Ilha do Tesouro
Italian: Mistero sull'isola
Swedish: Fem söker en skatt
Danish: De fem på skatteøen
Finnish: Viisikko Aarresaarella
Russian: Taina ostrova sokrowisch
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev na otoku zakladov
Serbo-Croat: Prijatelja na otoku s blagom
Czech: Slavna Patka na ostrove pokladov
Icelandic: Fimm á Fagurey
Basque: Bostak Eta Uharteko Altxorra
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan Di Pulau Harta

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: Julian, Dick and Anne are thrilled and curious when they discover that they are going to be spending the summer holidays with an unknown cousin, in a cottage beside the sea! George is a strange girl, who won't answer to her full name: Georgina, and though at first she isn't pleased that she has got company - little does she realize the excitement ahead, that will involve her very own island, a mysterious map, and a wreck thrown up in a storm! Alongside George's dog, Timmy (who is a strictly concealed secret amongst the children), the children have some truly breath-taking adventures in this first, fantastic Famous Five book!

Full Reviews (These may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
The Kirrin series would be the most well-known of all the Enid Blyton books — in fact the five characters who star in them are often known as The Famous Five. They emerged in 1942 and that's a long time ago. I once considered that the popularity of the series may have been due to the fact that there were so many of the books, but the players themselves could also be measured. There is Julian. He's tall and very capable when dealing with the Grown-Up side of life. The children feel pretty safe with him yet he isn't a real Grown-Up so they can still run their own lives. Dick represents the average boy with whom the lads can identify quite easily. Anne is the female of the species to whom the girls can relate. She washes the dishes, makes the beds and the sleeping bags, tidies the rooms and the tents and the caves and the hay-lofts and all-in-all she's an extremely useful member of the clan and very necessary to the smooth-running of whatever adventure the children are immersed in. George is the Enigma. One thing she stands for is the girls who want to be boys and there's a heck of a lot of them out there. From the early days I knew of course that boys are superior to girls — they're bigger, and stronger, and faster and more level-headed and when I read a Dagwood comic of that time he declared to Mr. Dithers that "The best chefs in the world are men!" So with the backing of George, all my mates, Dagwood, and Enid Blyton herself who reminded us time and time again that boys are The Ultimate, I feel I'm on very safe ground. With George taking care of the children who suffer gender and even identity problems this means that the Five represent almost anyone. A further accoutrement is the dog. Kids like to have one around because not only does it complete the circle but it also affords a degree of protection from bad men and women and nasty children who might call them names — it can chase them all away.

Julian, Dick and Anne visit Kirrin Bay for the summer hols to stay with their relatives. There's Aunt Fanny — a personable and homely woman. Uncle Quentin is a very learned scientist with the absent-mindedness of most professors as portrayed in countless stories. Their daughter is Georgina who insists on being called George due to her very strong craving to be a boy but as she can't elevate herself to that exalted status she does the best she can. She cuts her hair short, and wears boys' shirts and pants (and probably boys' undies) to complete the deception which works quite well because she manages to fool most people with whom she comes in contact. At Kirrin it turns out that George owns the island in the Bay on which there is a ruined castle and she very-secretly owns a dog named Timmy. He was cast away from Kirrin Cottage because he was naughty so his owner boards him with a friendly fisher-boy down the road. Anne almost gives George's secret away and she and her brothers experience the volatility of the girl-who-wants to-be-a-boy. She explodes and attacks Anne but she also has the ability to implode and shortly after expresses true sorrow. She even gives the girl a hug but is immediately ashamed of doing so — "Boys don't do that sort of thing!" Outwardly, she may be a boy but inwardly she needs a little more practice because me and my mates would disagree strongly with that statement!

George rows them out to her island to view Kirrin Castle and the three visitors also learn of a wrecked ship off the coast which was formerly owned by one of their cousin's Great-Great-Great grandfathers give or take a Great. The vessel conveniently rises to the surface during a violent storm and this gives the children a chance to explore and to discover a tin box which contains a treasure-map. The rest of the tale involves their search for the booty in the dungeons of the old castle and other related excitement. Julian, George and her dog are captured at one stage by wicked men who are also after the treasure and the ending which I mustn't give away, finishes on a positive note in fact a very positive one indeed. What would you expect?

The pages that cover the children's day-to-day activities never seem mundane because there is often a sudden shock or perhaps a quarrel or even a simple commentary on the way the kids react with each other. Other sections worthy of note could be those where the children come up against Authority and as they are so young there are many learning opportunities as well for which the author never misses an opportunity to supply an explanation. This means that we ourselves are also educated — for instance this book taught me what an ingot is and I'm not lapsing into a foreign language. The reader is part of the action and this First of the series has before today been described as one of the best in the bunch and it has great pictures by the ultimate Famous Five artist — Eileen Soper.

Matt Tompkins' Review
The first book of our beloved series. First we are introduced to three siblings, Julian, Dick and Anne who are planning their summer hols with their parents. Due to some particularly poor planning and an apparent absence of nagging from the children, their usual haunt is all booked up. Instead a plan is hatched to pack the three off to Kirrin to spend their summer holidays with their peculiar cousin Georgina, their sweet Aunt Fanny and their irritable Uncle Quentin. George is not keen on her cousins coming to stay at first and prefers to lead the life on a loner, with the exception of her loyal mongrel, Timothy. However, her three Cousins efforts to befriend her slowly bring her round. When she warms to them she agrees to take them to her, 'strange little island' complete with castle, which guards Kirrin Bay. However, an innocent trip to the island takes an unexpected twist when a violent storm brings up an old wreck and dumps it on the islands rocky periphery. Armed with the knowledge of an old myth which pointed to the possibility that lost gold could be aboard, the four children and Tim investigate the ship. What follows is an adventure that in truth changes the Kirrin's lives for good.

The way in which the characters are presented to us in the opening chapters of Five on a Treasure Island are incredibly important as they not only set the scene for the rest of the book, but also for the twenty books which follow. It would have been essential to Enid that the key players for the series were introduced to us in a way which allowed the reader to build an accurate image of each character in their minds before allowing them to develop throughout the series. We are told that George is 11 years of age to which Dick responds, 'same age as me'. It is then revealed that she is a year younger than Julian and a year older than Anne.

Bearing this in mind, Julian is portrayed as a compassionate boy who far exceeds his biological age in both mental and physical strength. He is the natural leader of the five. Anne is perhaps the mirror image of Julian being presented to us as a feeble girl who still likes to play with her dolls. There certainly appears to be far more than two years difference between the two in age.

Next, there's George. A strong willed and particularly obstinate girl who insists on dressing as a boy. On the face of it, she seems as though she could not be more different from her cousins. However, we slowly learn that she possesses many similar traits to them. She has a strong knowledge of write and wrong, is caring toward her friends and family and eventually sees the incredible benefits of sharing. The first real sign that George starts to trust her three siblings is when she introduces them to her best friend – Timmy the Dog, or Tim as he is referred to throughout this book. Timmy is a loveable mongrel who is the brown in colour, the wrong shape and as loyal to his mistress as she is to him. He soon takes to her three cousin's as well and when trouble presents itself to Julian and George in the Dungeons, he's the one who stands up for them. Although not implicitly mentioned it is fairly safe to assume that Timmy is a 1 year old as George tells her three cousins that she found him on the moors when he was a pup a year ago.

You may notice I seem to have forgotten about poor Dick – don't worry, unlike Enid I haven't. In the opening half of the book, we learn very little about his character, it's almost like he isn't there. Later on we learn that he is a brave character, who doesn't quite possess the quick mind or strength that Julian does, but isn't far behind. I speculate that a large reason for Dick's lack of dialogue and input at an early stage is his acceptance that Julian is leader of the three siblings, whilst Anne is a fair bit younger and thus requires a fair bit of looking after. Add to that the huge personality that George is and you can see why Dick struggles to make an initial impact. I stop short of criticising Enid for this as not everyone in a group shines through at first. Take a look at any group of friends. At first I bet you only really notice the 'big characters'.

Aunt Fanny is the model Aunty/Mother. Wonderful cook, loving, caring and sees the best in everyone. However, Uncle Quentin's character is far more complex. Initially appearing to be a typical bad tempered scientist, he eventually divulges the reasoning behind his rages and irritable nature. His efforts to provide for his family, ensures the reader finishes the novel with a completely different perspective on Uncle Quentin's character. Although their ages are not divulged, or for that matter important, I think it's safe to assume both Fanny and Quentin are around 40 years of age.

We are introduced to a number of other characters within the book such as Alf the fisher boy who looks after Timmy for George and three baddies. This is where Enid falters a little. Arriving late in the book, we are first introduced to the baddies when they lock George and Julian in the Dungeons. We are not told their names and between them they only share a page or so of dialogue. Enid does refer to one of them as Jake around 10 pages from the end of the book as if she were originally planning to introduce them at an earlier stage.

The first major anomaly of the series presents itself in the first chapter of the first book. Aunt Fanny's family owned all of the land around Kirrin Bay, although they now only own the Cottage, the Island and Kirrin Farm, yet we are told in the first chapter that Quentin is Julian's father's brother. So how is it that Aunt Fanny and George's name is Kirrin? Surely Fanny would take on her husband's name and George, her father's. This issue is compounded in later books and thus will be addressed in more depth in later reviews. Also the fact that the children have never met their cousin and only met their uncle once, strikes me as being a little strange, although it is perfectly feasible.
Character: 9/10

The book starts out at Julian, Dick and Anne's house which appears to be in London. No description of the house is given and really only serves the purpose of 'a place to start out'. As Julian, Dick and Anne drive through the countryside towards their destination with their parents, we are given our first and most comprehensive description of Kirrin Bay. As we know, much like the main characters, Kirrin is to play a recurring role throughout the series and therefore it is where we get the first and firmest impressions of what Kirrin may look like if it were real.

The bay is first visible as they summit a hill. It is described as a large bay with an island at the entrance of it. I believe that Enid's loose description of the area is purposeful and indeed clever. How big is big? Big compared to the size the children initially thought it would be? Big for a bay on the south coast? Or big for any bay? Hudson Bay is a bay, but I highly doubt Kirrin is over 12,000 kms in length. What this description does is allow the reader to make Kirrin what they want it to be without leaving them feel cheated out of a depiction of a beautiful location.

At the entrance of the bay is a small island just too far out to be accessible without a boat. The island is, according to Anne, small enough to see the other side wherever you are on the island. The inlet is located on the east of the island and is not visible from the mainland whilst the wreck is beached looking out to sea but on the opposite side of the island, again not viewable from the mainland. How I longed to own Kirrin Island as a child. Scrap that, I'd love to own it now. From the rocks which kept unwanted guests off it, to its ruined castle, it all seemed so perfect. The tame rabbits, the little inlet, the dungeons, its size, its distance from the coast – all so perfect.

Kirrin Cottage really is a place you'd love to live. Big enough to house everyone (and more) yet small enough to maintain a homely feel. It is described as being more like a house than a cottage. The rooms in which the children stay are well described and seem to serve their purpose as a place to sleep. The boys room has views of the bay and the girls room provides a vista over the moors, although a side window does allow a view of the sea. Another point of note is that at this point in time Uncle Quentin does not have a study. Aunt Fanny says that she has put him in a room on the other side of the house which it is later revealed to be backing onto the garden. The garden is depicted as being a reasonable size allowing enough space for the children to play, although they rarely do unless spying on Uncle Quentin.
Location: 9/10

When reviewing the plotline, it is important to remember that these books were written for children. Therefore I think it would be a tad harsh to suggest that, 'that plan was a bit obvious' or 'I saw that coming'.

The opening few chapters focus on the children enjoying their holidays in a beautiful seaside village. The story gradually crescendos with a visit to the wreck and subsequently, the island. These occurrences provide a seamless shift from holidaying to adventuring. The adventure for real starts with the surfacing of the wreck, before the map is found and a third party presents themselves in the form of a buyer for the map. Next the island is bought but the five have just enough time to find the gold before the story climaxes with a classic 'capturers becoming the captured' scenario. The flow of the story is one of the best throughout the series as we see the five slowly submersed into the adventure with each layer of the storyline ensuring a touch more excitement and danger.

The plot is a simple yet effective one. It draws you in and makes you wish you were there. As the first adventure, it may have been slightly over the top to throw the five in at the deep end. For example, I doubt they could have handled a slightly more epic adventure such as Smuggler's Top or Five Fall into Adventure at this early stage. It was by no means a boring adventure but, despite the presence of a revolver, no one's life ever seemed in danger as it does later in the series. This is purely an observation though and the adventure is certainly not inferior to ones in other stories.

One criticism I have of the plotline is the villain's motivation for buying the island. Why did they see the need to buy it in the first place? If they wanted to con the Kirrins out of their gold but wanted to do it legally then they would've waited for the sale to go through. It seems as if they weren't bothered about legalities however, so why didn't they simply do what they did and locate the gold but without buying the island? After all, upon the purchase of the box from the wreck they would've been certain that they were the only ones who knew of the gold's location.
Plotline: 8/10

One thing I personally read the Famous Five books for is nostalgia and the comfort provided therein. The thought of being able to have these wonderful adventures in beautiful locations at the height of summer, whilst still having all your meals cooked for you and staying in a picturesque cottage is one that sits well with me. This novel provides comfort in abundance. Even the violent storm doesn't last long and is soon replaced with sun. The best source of comfort though – you guessed it – dependable old Timmy.

Although there are one or two glaring mistakes, it's hard to really fault Enid's presentation of the main characters and the backdrop of Kirrin. Who didn't fall in love with the four cousins straight away, who didn't want to sail to Kirrin Island? Add to this an enjoyable plot and a writing style that allows the reader to easily submerge his or herself into and you have a really enjoyable read. The book really does succeed in setting the scene for future novels and is a great way to kick off the series. Nostalgia at its best.
Overall: 26/30 These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.