First Published 1950 by Collins

illustrated by Geoffrey Whittam

1st edn d/w.
  Click to enlarge
Collins 1950 First Edition
'Mrs. Thornton goes to an auction, and to her surprise acquires a ruined farmhouse and seventy wild acres. It lies in a deep Surrey valley, peeping behind the leaning fruit trees of its orchard. It is built of quarry stone, with pearl-grey timbers, diamond-paned windows and a steep, wide roof encrusted with moss and lichen. The Thorntons give their hearts to it at once and work hard to make the farm a success. There is much to do, much to be learnt and many difficulties to be overcome, for the house is very old and the land is overgrown.
As they build for the future they discover fascinating relics of the past. The most exciting of these is Dion's discovery of the diary of a boy, which tells the story of the Black Hunting Whip. They determine to find the whip and to fulfil the boy's wish that it should be carried to victory in the Guildford Show. Their efforts to achieve this lead to a strange and unexpected event.'
[Above publisher's 'blurb' is from the dustwrapper's front flap.]

The Thornton's mother attends a Sale and buys a Farm. Not just any farm, but Punchbowl Farm, a near derelict collection of buildings and land on the edge of The Devil's Punchbowl in Surrey.

Exploring the old buildings amongst the settling in jobs, while their parents disappear under a hail of brick and plaster dust, the younger Thorntons, Dion and Lindsey, uncover some of the farm's past.

First edition:
The first appearance of the story in book form was at the end of 1950. It is recorded in the December issue of Collins Magazine as being 'just published'.
The basic story is the same as in the original serial (see Other editions below) but has been put together and expanded. All the illustrations from the serial are there, although some have been modified or redrawn for the book, and one extra has been added.

Description: Hardback with dustwrapper; pale green boards, front board plain; gold blocking; 135x200mm; 256pp; no map; title page vignette and 16 line illustrations (5 full page).

The dustwrapper a full colour front illustration of Dion unearthing a box, the farm in the background. The scene wraps to the spine where the boy is shown again, digging. The back of the cover lists two Novels for Boys and Girls by other authors and the rear flap advertises the Collins Magazine; cover price 8s 6d. net; all text on the dustwrapper is blue.

Other Editions:

Collins 1950:
The story's first appearance was as a serial in five issues of Collins 'magazine' between January and May 1950. The first three were in issues titled Collins - for Boys and Girls Volumes 7, 8 and 9; the final two episodes were in the following issues - by then carrying the reintroduced title of Collins Magazine. These were the issues for May and June 1950.
The episodes were illustrated throughout by Geoffrey Whittam with drawings full of detail and dramatic on the glossy white paper used for printing the magazine. The full page drawing which shows the family arriving at the farm is 225x170mm compared with its size in the book (90x130mm). The same is true of the story's final drawing - of the Guildford Show, and that was completely redrawn for the book, presumably to simplify it for the smaller format.

Collins Magazine Annual Number 4 (1951):
The serial was reprinted in this collection of articles from the magazine. However one of the episodes, the fourth, originally in the April 1950 issue, was omitted, presumably on the groundsof saving space.
The pages of the magazine were reproduced, including the illustrations of those episodes used.

Collins 1955 {Crown edition on SE list}
Red boards with black blocking; smaller than the first edition, 5x7.5 inches (130x190mm); 256pp; title page vignette; all 16 illustrations from the first edition, no map; no date on the front of the title page, its rear states:

Dustwrapper artwork is as the first edition, but rear of jacket advertises The Wanderer, Punchbowl Midnight, Spirit of Punchbowl Farm and Punchbowl Harvest whereas the inside of the rear flap advertises No Entry, The Midnight Horse, Cargo of Horses and Storm Ahead. Cover price 5s net; all text on the dustwrapper is in blue.
[This will be the Crown Edition listed by ME. In effect a straight reprint for a 'crown' or five shillings. The Crown Library label appears to have been dropped.]
[For information on this edition, thanks to Matthew Hyde]

Scottie Books 1956:
paperback; illustrations as original but new cover picture, full colour, signed 'Mortelmans'; 222pp; No. J34; cover price 'Two Shillings'.
Scottie paperback cover. Click to enlarge
Scottie paperback 1956

Armada paperback cover. Click to enlarge
Armada paperback 1964
Armada 1964:
original illustrations; 157pp; cover by Mary Gernat; reprinted 1967/8; Armada number C72; cover price 2/6.

Collins Pony Library 1974:
Hardback edition on cheaper paper. An abridged edition of the story.
Pictorial boards signed by Geoffrey Whittam.
Pony Library cover. Click to enlarge (File size=31KB)
The Pony Library cover

Goodchild edition dustwrapper. Click to enlarge (File size=28KB)
Goodchild edition 1984
Goodchild 1984:
revised by author; dustwrapper by Gordon King.
ISBN 086391-042-4
This edition still listed as available from

Girls Gone By Publishers 2011:
New paperback edition.

With reinstated full text and illustrations from the first edition, and with the additional material so characteristic of this publisher's products, this is yet another collector's item.
Shelley Edwards has once more provided a new and fascinating Preface. This time she reflects on the story and compares it with her own memories of the time as well has her mother's account of the early days on the farm as recounted in The Unsought Farm.
These insights really are marvellous - and once again illustrations from the family albums are included.
The preface is followed by the original Farm Sale Brochure from 1947.

There is a an introduction to the author and her work by Joy Wotton as well as the publishing history by myself. These are illustrated throughout by photographs.
In addition, Brian Parks has contributed The Real Devil's Punchbowl an illustrated article which first appeared last year in the new paperback edition of The Wild One.

Clarissa Cridland (of Girls Gone By) has added a fascinating clipping from the local Thursley paper - showing Monica Edwards with Richard Dimbleby and her own father at Thursley Horse Show in the 1950s.
The original book had no map, so the publishers inserted one from later books which precedes the story proper and this is reproduced in full, with all illustrations included.
Variations on the illustrations from those in the serial are shown in the Publishing History, and there is added information as to what minor changes have been made to the original text. These are, it must be said, very minor.

Another beautiful book. Still (2013) in print at £13 including postage from the publishers within the UK - a little more if you pay by other than cheque - it's a fascinating bargain.

Click to enlarge
the GGBP edition cover

This page is part of the Monica Edwards Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.

Illustrations copyright the respective Publishers
Text copyright John Allsup
Last updated August 2013