Biggles has been fighting off bandits at 2 o’clock since 1932. He’s legend of children’s literature and one of the great adventure heroes. James Bigglesworth, created by W.E. Johns, starred in almost 100 novels beginning with The Camels are Coming. Johns died while writing Biggles Does Some Homework in 1968 but his hero continues to fascinate readers and collectors more than 40 years after his creator’s death.
The fearless flyer began his literary life as a World War I fighter pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, the precursor to the Royal Air Force. Johns wrote from firsthand experience as he flew fighter planes in the Great War and was shot down in 1918. After the conflict ended, he remained in the RAF until 1927.
Much like another British hero James Bond, Biggles was a survivor and time never dimmed his ability to fly to the rescue. Johns wrote about the young Biggles, his adventures in WWI, his career as a charter pilot, his WWII heroics, and then his post-war work in the special air police. Villains could shoot him down every now and again, but Biggles was impossible to kill.
Biggles has been translated into many languages and the series is adored by collectors with a love of adventure. It’s common for a rare Biggles book to sell for a four-figure price.