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Research Topic: How old were the Famous Five?

By Ian Mander, 25 December 2005; updated 13 June 2006; updated 4 March 2009 including data and analysis of Timmy's age; updated 17 November 2010 including relocation of book 16 and the actual years added that the adventures occurred in; updated 15 May 2014 with book 2 notes and resulting changes; updated 19 November 2014 minor wording changes in article and change book notes to tabs; updated 22 November 2014 on dog aging; updated 2-3 March 2018 with more book 13 notes and other minor notes updates.

Related Research Topic: Which Famous Five books featured secret passages?

Sequential Timeline | Optimised Timeline | Timeline References

Sequential Timeline

The Famous Five aged over the course of their adventures – the humans, at least, there's not much mention that Timmy aged at all once he got past the puppy stage, although he was affectionately referred to as "old Timmy" occasionally. Unfortunately if the adventures are in sequential order a lot of holidays are "wasted" and the "children" are decidedly adultish by the end of the series.

How old was Timmy?

When we are introduced to Timmy in book 1 he's apparently fully grown. George found him a year before that, and doesn't specify his age then other than him being "just a pup". Wikipedia says most dogs mature at 12-15 months.

How long do mongrels typically live? The answer is a little worrisome:

Life expectancy is based on averages. Actually the average lifespan of any dog whether purebred or of indetermin[ate] descent is between 10 to 12 years of age. However individual breeds may have shorter or longer average lifespans depending upon their breed.

However, some dogs have lived into their late teens or even twenties, especially if they have lots of exercise. Smaller dogs typically live longer than larger dogs. For more information see the Wikipedia article Aging in dogs:

According to the UC Davis Book of Dogs, small-breed dogs (such as small terriers) become geriatric at about 11 years; medium-breed dogs (such as larger spaniels) at 10 years; large-breed dogs (such as German Shepherd Dogs) at 8 years; and giant-breed dogs (such as Great Danes) at 7 years.[6]

It's probably fair to assume that George gave Timmy lots of exercise (he often runs beside them while they're cycling) and not much chocolate (as she seems to do on page 34 of book 1 – chocolate can give dogs heart attacks), but Timmy's age by the last story may present a problem if the books are taken in sequential order, especially all the running around he would have had to do in the last few stories.

If we place the adventures in sequential order this is what we get:

Ages Spring/Easter Summer Autumn Winter/Christmas

Julian: 12
Dick/George: 11
Anne: 10

Timmy: 1

  1 - Treasure
Alf (James): 14
  2 - Tutor

Julian: 13
Dick/George: 12
Anne: 11

Visited Kirrin Island, "had plenty of fun" but no adventure? 3 - Run Away
Edgar Stick: 13-14
Jenny Armstrong: 8?
Alf (James): 15

Julian: 14
Dick/George: 13
Anne: 12

4 - Smugglers
Pierre "Sooty" Lenoir: 13
Marybelle Lenoir: 12
5 - Caravan
Nobby: 10?
No adventures – Five did not get together.

Julian: 15
Dick/George: 14
Anne: 13

6 - Kirrin Island
James (Alf): 17
Martin Curton: 16
7 - Ghost Train
Jock, Cecil: 12

Julian: 16
Dick/George: 15
Anne: 14

8 - Owl's Dene
Richard Kent: 12 (oops)
9 - Red Tower
Jo: 13?
10 - Hike  

Julian: 17
Dick/George: 16
Anne: 15

11 - Circus Folk
Jo: 14?

12 - Cornwall Sea
Yan: 8-10?


Julian: 18
Dick/George: 17
Anne: 16

13 - Horses
Henrietta/Henry/Harry (Hairy?): 17
Sniffer: 10?
William: 11
Old Ben: 81+

14 - Berta/Leslie/Jane
Berta Lesley: 14?
James (Alf): 20
Jo: 15?


Julian: 19
Dick/George: 18
Anne: 17

  15 - Roman Camp
Guy & Harry Lawdler: 12-13

Julian: 20
Dick/George: 19
Anne: 18

Whitsun (June):
16 - Billycock Caves
Benny Thomas: 5
Toby Thomas: 19-20
    17 - Wales, Snow
Aily: 7?

Julian: 21
Dick/George: 20
Anne: 19

  18 - Finniston Farm
Henry & Harriet Philpot 10-12?
Junior Henning 11

Julian: 22
Dick/George: 21
Anne: 20

19 - Lighthouse
Tinker: 9

Julian: 23
Dick/George: 22
Anne: 21

Timmy: 12

20 - Whispering Island
Wilfred: 10
Boat-boy: 15


Julian: 24
Dick/George: 23
Anne: 22

Timmy: 13

21 - Tapper's Circus
Tinker Hayling: 11
Jeremy Tapper: 11


Obviously, this raises all sorts of questions, like why would young adults in their early twenties want to holiday with a nine year old in book 19? (Admittedly, a lighthouse is a pretty good reason.) How did a very old dog cope with the huge amount of running around with bicycles in the last couple of books? Why didn't Julian and Dick have at least one car between them? These are issues that probably just won't ever have answers.

Timeline | Optimised Timeline | Timeline References

Optimised Timeline

Sometimes aging was expressed by Enid Blyton, most of the time it has to be inferred. If we assume the children did actually age*, we can take one of two views: Either Enid Blyton was rather careless with how the stories related to each other because it was too much trouble making sure the Five didn't get too old, or she was very clever, and omitted mentioning their ages but left important clues which allow us to place the Famous Five adventures in the "actual" order they happened, which means we can work out the "actual" ages of the children in each of the adventures. Surprisingly, they almost all fit, with only one serious contradiction that's easily resolvable with a single-word text change.

*We have to remember they're only kids' books. And it seems very likely that she only intended to write the first six, but found she was onto a good thing, so kept going.

George's birthday is between the Christmas and Easter holidays (they have a three term year), so there's the implication the others had their birthdays at other times of the year. However, in book 2 (winter) they are all still the same age as book 1 (summer the same year), so their birthdays are all in the first half of the year.

It's desirable for Anne to be as young as possible in April (due to an irreconcilable contradiction with Richard's age, where the single correction comes in), so I've arbitrarily decreed her birthday to be between the Easter and Summer holidays. Of course, this also slightly helps explain why she tends to be looked down on, and is often given special consideration by her brothers for being small and/or weak – she's a year and a few months younger than George.

To keep them as young as possible (for those who wishfully think they never grew up) Julian's and Dick's birthdays might also occur at the same time of year, between the Easter and summer holidays. However, that would mean that all spring/Easter adventures (of which there are a lot) have George the same age as Julian – in whole years, anyway. This is very unlikely since Julian bosses George around quite a lot (mostly based on her being a girl, the male chauvinist pig) and George goes along with it, albeit angrily for the most part. In all the many spring and Easter adventures she never once mentions that she is the same age as Julian. This implies that Julian is a little more than a full year older. It's possible George's birthday was mentioned in book 11 simply because she had the most recent birthday before that adventure.

Since this timeline is an "optimised" timeline, many adventures have been moved from their sequential positions. This optimisation of the timeline means the final story is three years earlier than it would be if all stories were in their numerical order, and subtle "clues" from the books are incorporated to eliminate contradictions. Extra characters have ages given or calculated where information is available from the books. The rest are just guesses.

Boxes with a green background are definite placements of the adventures in the timeline.

While book 5 through book 8 could all technically be a year later, with book 9 and book 11 filling in the gap – which would age Jo by a couple of years between her second and third appearances – it is undesirable because it would make the mistake of Richard Kent's age worse by one year. At present that problem can be resolved by simply replacing the word "older" by "younger". See the notes on book 8 below.

Book 14 is their 14th adventure.

Boxes with  blue  or  pink  or  yellow  backgrounds or green border are required placements of those adventures relative to each other of the same colour. They are in the required order but not necessarily the required spacing – so book 12 at optimised position 20 could be swapped with book 15 at optimised position 18. The exception is book 18 which could be before book 9 (although book 9 must still be before book 11).

Update 13 June 2006: I've moved the placement of book 10 because of the requirement for book 14 to be the 14th adventure. It makes that year a very busy one.

Update 4 March 2009: Green boxes are now emphasised a little more, and the colour key above has been clarified. Also minor typos fixed, and an explanation added to the book 2 notes as to why that book in optimised position 2 doesn't have a background colour when there is probably ample evidence to firmly place it in the timeline. (Since rectified!) Also an extra note for book 15 about the minimum age for first aid courses.

Update 17 November 2010: The biggest change is moving book 16 to as early as possible – I think this is a better placement instead of after book 21 and before book 14; it means several adventures get renumbered, but significantly allows the years to be assigned! I've given book 14 a green border since it's a relative placement to the first few adventures. I've written a few extra comments on some of the books, including several confirming that book 19 isn't placed too early. Also, I checked the life span of monkeys. In the optimised order Mischief, Tinker's monkey, ages by four years instead of two years in the sequential order, but that isn't a problem as monkeys live much longer than that.

The Famous Five books in optimised order:

Year Ages Spring/Easter Ages Summer

Autumn &

1952 Before Five first met.

Julian: 12
Dick/George: 11
Anne: 10

Timmy: 1

1: 1 - Treasure
Alf (James): 14
2: 2 - Tutor
1953 Julian: 13
Dick/George: 12
Anne: 10
Possibly visited Kirrin Island and "had plenty of fun" but no adventure. Julian: 13
Dick/George: 12
Anne: 11
3: 3 - Run Away
Edgar Stick: 13-14
Jenny Armstrong: 8?
Alf (James): 15
Julian, Dick and Anne move out of London.

Julian: 14
Dick/George: 13
Anne: 11

4: 19 - Lighthouse
Tinker: 9
Jeremiah Boogle: 80+
Julian: 14
Dick/George: 13
Anne: 12
5: 5 - Caravans
Nobby: 10?
No adventures – Five did not get together.

Julian: 15
Dick/George: 14
Anne: 12, 13

6: 6 - Kirrin Island
James (Alf): 17
Martin Curton: 16
Whitsun (June):
7: 16 - Billycock Caves
Benny Thomas: 5
Toby Thomas: 14-15

Julian: 15
Dick/George: 14
Anne: 13

8: 7 - Ghost Train
Jock, Cecil: 12
1956 Julian: 16
Dick/George: 15
Anne: 13
9: 8 - Owl's Dene
Richard Kent: 12 (oops)
Julian: 16
Dick/George: 15
Anne: 14
2 September
10: 9 - Red Tower
Jo: 12?
1957 Julian: 17
Dick/George: 16
Anne: 14
11: 11 - Circus & Castle
Jo: 13?
Julian: 17
Dick/George: 16
Anne: 15
12: 18 - Finniston Farm
Henry & Harriet Philpot 10-12?
Junior Henning 11
Great Grandad: 81+
1958 Julian: 18
Dick/George: 17
Anne: 15
13: 21 - Tapper's Circus
Tinker Hayling: 13
Jeremy Tapper: 13
Julian: 18
Dick/George: 17
Anne: 16
14: 14 - Berta/Leslie/Jane
Berta Lesley: 14?
James (Alf): 20
Jo: 14?
Autumn (late October)
15: 10 - Hike
16: 17 - Wales, Snow
Aily: 7?
1959 Julian: 19
Dick/George: 18
Anne: 16
17: 4 - Smugglers
Pierre "Sooty" Lenoir: 18
Marybelle Lenoir: 16
Julian: 19
Dick/George: 18
Anne: 17
18: 15 - Roman Camp
Guy & Harry Lawdler: 12-13
1960 Julian: 20
Dick/George: 19
Anne: 17
19: 13 - Horses
Henrietta/Henry/Harry (Hairy?): 19
Sniffer: 10?
William: 11
Old Ben: 81+
Julian: 20
Dick/George: 19
Anne: 18
20: 12 - Cornwall Sea
Yan: 8-10?
Grandad: 92+

Julian: 21
Dick/George: 20
Anne: 18

Timmy: 10

21: 20 - Whispering Island
Wilfred: 10
Boat-boy: 15
That's all, folks.

This places Timmy at an old but still reasonable age for an easy life in retirement, before he gets too old to run next to a bike in the last story.

Timeline | Optimised Timeline | Timeline References

Timeline references

All page references are to the 1967-1971 Knight editions of the books. For synopses of the books see

1. Five on a Treasure Island

  • The first adventure, the five first meet.
  • The children are introduced as being 10 to 12 years old.
  • George says she found Timmy "out on the moors when he was just a pup, a year ago" (page 30).
  • Alf (known in some later books as James) is described as being "about fourteen years old." (Page 40.)
  • Julian, Dick and Anne live in London, an 8 hour drive away from Kirrin Cottage.
    • It would surely take less than 8 hours these days.

2. Five Go Adventuring Again

  • Christmas holidays.
  • Have misplaced my copy, so I haven't been able to read it for positioning clues. :(
  • Nigel Rowe says Julian commands Timmy to shake hands with the tutor, but Timmy refuses. So Timmy at this point knows how to shake, but this isn't a spontaneous offer to shake as he first does in book 16, so it doesn't affect the timeline.
  • Update: May 2014, a friend has supplied a copy.
  • There are multiple references to adventures (plural) they have had, but never mention of any adventures since the summer.
    • "The three of them had stayed with George in the summer, and had had some exciting adventures together on the little island off the coast." (Page 13.)
    • "The two looked out to sea, where the old ruined castle stood on the little island of Kirrin – what adventures they had had there in the summer!" (Page 16.)
    • "'Do you remember our marvellous adventures in the summer?'" (Page 20.)
    • "'I wish we could have some more exciting adventures.'" (Page 21.)
  • It seems George had been homeschooled before going to Gaylands School (pages 11 & 17), placing this story early in the timeline, and the first one to mention her at or going to school.
  • Joan/Joanna the cook is new (page 18).
  • "They were very much of an age – Julian was twelve, George and Dick were eleven, and Anne was ten." (Page 21.) This fixes the book in relation to book 1, and means they all have their birthdays in the first half of the year.
  • Dick mentions wanting to see "Aladdin and the Lamp, and the Circus" (page 21). It could be a reference to anything, but Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp was a 1939 short film with Popeye as Aladdin. This book was first published in 1943.
  • Tim doesn't shake hands with Mr Roland, the tutor (page 31).
  • Anne (age 10, remember) plans to buy Mr Roland a packet of cigarettes as a Christmas present (page 62). But even in 1943 she was too young, as it was illegal from 1933 to sell cigarettes to anyone under 16. For more on that see book 19 where Julian is not old enough to buy tobacco.
  • Timmy hasn't seen snow before (page 123). He's about a year and a half old at this point.

3. Five Run Away Together

  • Set in summer one year after book 1, so children must be one year older than in that book, ie 11 to 13 years old.
  • George has been by herself for the first three weeks of the summer holiday and Julian, Dick and Anne had gone away with their parents, so there are no adventures in this summer prior to this one.
  • Mentions (page 7) that "in the holidays [they] usually joined up together and had plenty of fun. Now it was the summer holidays and already three weeks had gone by."
    • The "usually" implies they may have met up and had fun (but no adventure) the Easter before book 3.
    • It also implies this book is not later in the same summer holiday as book 1.
  • A more conclusive point (page 8) is George saying "I haven't been able to go to you [Kirrin Island] yet this summer, because my boat was being mended". So this adventure cannot be later in the same summer holiday as book 1, or any other book featuring a visit to Kirrin Island.
  • George's mother said two or three years ago that George could have Kirrin Island (page 9).
  • Jennifer Mary Armstrong is described as "a small girl" without any age given.
  • Jenny is old enough to recover quickly and for the Five to want to have around for a week on the Island after the adventure.
  • Alf/James still Alf.

4. Five Go To Smuggler's Top

  • Starts "One fine day right at beginning of the Easter holidays". Cold, windy; fishermen expecting a big storm.
  • The Five "haven't been [to Kirrin Island] since last summer" which isn't specifically mentioned in book 15 but is in book 14.
  • Anne says Dick's book can't be as exciting as "some" of the adventures the Five have had (page 8).
  • George says Julian has "gone thin" – a growth spurt? Or just not eating enough? Was Julian chubby before going through adolescence? She doesn't say he has "gone tall" but it could be a growth spurt in his early teens if she's used to Sooty's size and he's also grown.
  • Timmy spontaneously offers his paw to Mr Lenoir (page 181). If book 16 is the first time he does that, this places this book at least six years later than the natural (consecutive) positioning of it, but solves the problem for Timmy climbing spiral stairs in book 19 because that adventure can simply swap with this one – two problems solved at once.
  • "George found herself twinkling at him [Sooty] in a way quite strange to her..." I have no idea what that's supposed to mean (and don't think I want to know), but I suspect it must be her teenage hormones finally kicking in.

5. Five Go Off in a Caravan

  • August, first week of summer holidays, so cannot be set in any earlier year, as it can't be before book 3.
  • Dick rules out cycling as an option because Anne couldn't ride as fast as the others (page 9), so Anne is still quite young.
  • They have a horse, Dobby, which has the implication that Julian, Dick and Anne no longer live in London. This places the move quite early in the timeline. They also live out of London in book 19 and up.

6. Five on Kirrin Island Again

  • Easter the year after book 5.
  • George thinks Anne already knows what Kirrin Island is like at Easter – how? The only Easter adventure written at this point was when they went to Smuggler's Top, book 4 – they never got to Kirrin Island then.
  • No other book set at Easter includes visiting Kirrin Island, as they're all set somewhere else.
  • However, book 3 (page 7) mentions that the Five "usually joined up together and had plenty of fun." It's possible they had fun on Kirrin Island but no adventure the Easter preceeding book 3.
  • The Five have not stayed together since they went caravanning in book 5 – ie, no adventures can be squeezed in there.
  • George has Timmy at school.
  • Timmy went up the tower (page 38) "having managed the spiral stairs with difficulty." On his way down (page 40) Timmy pushed passed Anne and "disappeared below her at a remarkably fast pace." No trouble at all now – almost as though it took a while to remember how to do it. Or maybe he's just having a problem with gravity. See book 19 for another spiral staircase he learns to climb.
  • We read that Martin Curton looks about 16 and the coastguard tells Julian that Martin is "about your age, I should think." (Page 55.)
  • Enid Blyton obviously meant for the children to get older if Julian is looking this old already. However, aging at this rate is another indication that the adventures (especially the later ones) are not all in sequential order (or that she only intended to write the first six).
    • After the first six books started selling so incredibly well she started writing more of them. Wikipedia says By the end of 1953 more than six million copies had been sold. Today, more than two million copies of the books are sold each year, making them one of the biggest-selling series for children ever written. Over a hundred million books have been sold.
    • Wikipedia also points out Blyton's publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, first used the term "The Famous Five" in 1951, after nine books in the series had been published. Before this, the series was referred to as The 'Fives' Books.

7. Five Go Off To Camp

  • Set in summer, one year after book 5.
  • Book starts with planning the trip, six days before they leave for the moors.
  • As Nigel Rowe points out, they are being allowed to go camping "in spite of the terrific adventure we had last summer, when we went off in caravans". No mention of the shenanigans on Kirrin Island at Easter here, though. Or of any other adventures, such as book 16 which could be conveniently squeezed in between.

8. Five Get Into Trouble

  • Easter, the first time they go camping after book 7.
  • Anne must be older now because she can keep up with the others cycling (see book 5).
  • Richard Thurlow Kent being "not much older than Anne" (page 34) is probably the only serious boo-boo on Enid's part in the whole timeline (apart from them still being referred to as children when they're into their twenties!). However, the description is clearly incorporated as part of Anne's first impression of him, so needn't be strictly accurate.
  • We know when this story is set relative to book 5, and that's OK as it allows Anne to grow up a bit to be able to cope with the cycling (which she wasn't able to do then), but book 5 couldn't itself be any earlier because it can't be the same summer as book 3 (or book 1, obviously). In other words, Anne is a minimum of 13 years old in Five Get Into Trouble, a few months short of 14.
  • Richard Kent is thus at least nine or ten months younger than Anne; hence the line should read "not much younger than Anne".
  • As an aside:
    • Describing Richard as "not much older than Anne" is a bit hopeful anyway, really. Does he look a very similar age? It's not like all children look exactly the age they are, so the "not much" can only be a very loose comparison.
    • Why not describe his age in relation to Dick? Something like "a little younger than Dick" – which being both boys would make more sense. (It does say he was "not as big as Julian or Dick".) This lends weight to the idea that Anne is more than a year younger than Dick and George.
    • My conclusion is that if Anne thought Richard looked older than her it's probable that Richard looks older than he is (but is small for his age compared to Julian and Dick) or that she developed an instant crush on his "laughing blue eyes" and thus simply got it wrong (especially since being a very demure girl would have wanted her "man" to be older and thus more authoritative than her). So the description isn't a death blow for the optimised timeline.

9. Five Fall Into Adventure

  • Starts on 2 September! Last two weeks of eight week (!) summer break.
  • Julian and Dick have been in France for the first six weeks, so no adventures can be squeezed into the first part of these hols.
  • First appearance of Jo. Introducing younger characters without any reference to the Five's ages was a clever way of keeping the stories relatable for young readers, who were free to assume any age for the Five they wanted.

10. Five on a Hike Together

  • October, mid-term break.
    • It would be hard to do these days, with late October being right in the middle of Cambridge exams.
  • Miss Peters (a name that seems very familiar – one of the Secret Seven was Peter) isn't at all surprised or worried in the slightest by the idea of them going off by themselves for a weekend, so even Anne must be quite old by this time.
  • George has Timmy at school.
  • The Five are old enough to have "coffee and cream" for breakfast in a village. Maybe in 1951 (when it was first published) children did that sort of thing, but it lends support for placing this story late in the timeline when they're in their late teens.

11. Five Have a Wonderful Time

  • April.
  • First hols since George's birthday, implying that the others have their birthdays at some other time of year – there's no mention that they've all had a birthday since the previous hols.
    • It's more likely she just has her birthday the latest of the three older ones. This would fit with the idea she's a little over one year younger than Julian (an idea explored in the above notes just before the optimised timeline).
  • Previous adventure with Jo (book 9) was "the year before".

12. Five Go Down to the Sea

  • Summer, very hot.
  • Yan is more than 80 years younger than his great grandfather, who first saw the wreckers' light "near 90 years ago".
  • Yan gets unceremonially dunked in a tub to be bathed, so is probably quite young, and/or rather slight of frame.
  • At the end of the story Julian and Dick are presented with Clopper, but the suit is never mentioned again in any other book.

13. Five Go to Mystery Moor

  • April (page 12, page 190).
  • Is anyone not yet tired of girls trying to look like boys?
    • "Henry's real name was Henrietta, but she would only answer to Henry, or Harry to her very best friends." (Page 10.)
    • "She was about as old as George" (page 10).
  • Anne is still at school (page 9), while Julian and Dick have gone camping with their school (page 10). It is not mentioned or implied that George is still at school.
  • There are several clues that the Five and Henrietta are "older" – perhaps in their mid teens.
    • William is first described as "a small boy" (page 15). Henrietta says he is "only eleven" (page 167), as if she's much older than that.
    • Henrietta refers to "rather a lot of small kids at the stables" (page 24) – William is one of these – implying that Julian and Dick are not small.
  • Without a second thought Julian stands up to Sniffer's father when he tries to take his lame horse Clip in the middle of the night, preventing him doing so (page 46). This is beyond standing up to the Sticks in book 3 because Clip is Sniffer's father's horse. Sounds like Julian must be pretty old now.
  • Timmy apparently has trouble recognising another dog, Liz (page 64-66). Sounds like Timmy is getting senile in his old age.
    • A dog not knowing what another dog is – whatever it looks like – is really really dumb. (Timmy gets walloped on the head in this story, but that's not until later.)
  • An old story-teller is included in the form of the blacksmith. "Old Ben was a mighty figure of a man, even though he was over eighty." (Page 80.)

14. Five Have Plenty of Fun

  • Summer, hot, three weeks left of holiday.
  • Boys have been abroad for the first four weeks of this holiday while Anne had been to camp and had a friend stay (page 17) so can't fit any other adventures in the same holiday.
  • Fanny mentions George first met her cousins "a few years ago" (page 55).
  • Dick mentions it's their 14th adventure and refers to two previous adventures with Jo (book 9 and book 11).
  • Adventure includes a trip to Kirrin Island (fulfills requirement for the summer preceding book 4).
  • Timmy is straight away great friends with a black poodle (page 51) which places this story after book 18 where he apparently meets a black poodle for the first time.

15. Five on a Secret Trail

  • August, hot at night, different hols from book 14. Fanny to Anne: 'Will they [Julian and Dick] be coming down at all these holidays?' 'I don't know,' said Anne. 'They're still in France, you know, on a school-boys' tour.' (Page 16.)
  • A particularly big gorse bush (page 108) has "a few yellow blooms on it still" possibly implying late summer, although Wikipedia says common gorse is thought to be always in bloom.
  • Julian ("like everybody else") is old enough to have done his First Aid Training (with capital initials).
  • A quick web search indicates 16 is the present minimum age for first aid courses in Britain, which is great, as the present optimised placement of this book has even Anne age 17.
  • Julian gets stuck in the tunnel but Harry has no trouble, implying that Julian is much bigger (and older) than Harry.

16. Five Go to Billycock Hill

  • Whitsun (seven weeks after Easter).
  • "The may was over now ..." Huh? Does that mean it's June?
  • A big gorse bush in this book also has a few yellow blooms on it still (see book 15). Wikipedia says common gorse is thought to be always in bloom.
  • Timmy spontaneously offers his paw to someone (Cousin Jeff), supposedly for the first time – 'Timmy's never done that before!' said George (page 73). What about book 4? It must be after this one!
  • I think Toby is said to be about Julian and Dick's age.
  • There are a few implications this adventure is set quite early.
    • Anne doesn't consider the kids grown up yet (page 14).
    • The boys are still small enough to be easily held by the men at the Butterfly Farm. It must not have anything to do with Julian's height, because he's tall even in book 3. It could be all relative, or maybe the men were quite determined.
    • Strange noises are enough to make them run out of the caves.
    • Julian is normally ever-so-mature, but Toby convinces him to ignore a Keep Out sign to go swimming.
  • It must be after the war, because they're allowed to camp near the airfield. Perhaps the war should just be ignored in this timeline.
  • They have a small wireless radio, which were first developed in 1954 (this book was first published in 1957) but it wasn't until November 1954 that the first one was for sale. February 1955 saw a much better model released, albeit very expensive for children to have on a camping trip. However, being repeatedly referred to as posh children, it's quite believable for the Five to be early adopters of the new technology. This means 1955 is the earliest year this adventure could have taken place. Placing this adventure reasonably early in the timeline thus gives an earliest possible year for book 21.

17. Five Get Into a Fix

  • Christmas holidays, winter, one week before school is due to start again.
  • Must be after book 16, as Timmy spontaneously offers his paw to Mrs Jones (page 28).
  • It really stretches credibility to think that the Five (Julian in particular) would think that Morgan was a baddie after their lesson from misjudging Mr Penruthlan in book 12. Since they had evidence that Mr Penruthlan really wasn't on the level (eg, going through pockets, lying to his wife, etc) it's probable that this story is before that one.
  • Julian, Dick and Anne's mother is Mrs Barnard. The children are introduced as Kirrins in book 16. There's no mention of her ever remarrying...
  • Arguably the lamest story because the Five don't solve the crime, and only get in the way as they try to figure out what's going on. But they have lots of snow fun in the process.

18. Five on Finniston Farm

  • Summer, hot.
  • It's twice mentioned (in separate locations) that there are fields of corn waving in the breeze – mid to late summer?
  • Timmy apparently doesn't know what on earth a black poodle is (page 28), which would place this story before book 14 where Timmy is great friends with that black poodle straight away (page 51), but it cannot be in the first half of the same summer holiday as that adventure.
    • A dog not knowing what another dog is – whatever it looks like – is really really dumb. (We know that Timmy was drugged in at least one story.)
  • The twins (described as "children" on page 17) must be quite pre-adolescent to look remotely like each other since they are fraternal, boy-girl twins. Yet even their mother can't tell them apart at times (page 21).
  • The four human Five seem to be given the OK to drive the tractor and the Land Rover (page 33), so even Anne must be reasonably old and mature.
  • Janie, the ten year old girl in the shop, is "small" (page 12) and "little" (page 14). These size descriptions are possibly compared to the four Five.
  • Janie's mother says [Great] Grandad [Finniston] is "over 80" (page 15).

19. Five Go To Demon's Rocks

  • Beginning of April.
  • George doesn't know if Timmy will be able to climb the spiral staircase in the lighthouse. This would either mean the story is set before book 6, or George was concerned because of Timmy's age.
    • In my research I've made a note that this means it would have to be between books 2 and 3, but without any reason given.
  • It cannot be set just before book 6 in the same holiday as they hadn't stayed together since they went caravanning in book 5.
  • Causing concern that the book is placed too early in the optimised order are several hints that Julian is quite old.
    • Julian is old enough to make all the travel arrangements and pay for them himself.
    • A policeman repeatedly addresses Julian as "sir".
    • Keith Robinson points out "he [Julian] frequently puts on his "most grown-up voice" to cower the bad guys, such as in the nineteenth book, Five Go to Demon's Rocks." (Julian also gets very back-chatty with adults in book 3 and very authoritative with adults in book 8, so it seems to be just something he does – along with his male chauvinism.)
  • However, and more importantly, Julian was not old enough to buy tobacco. The Five just paid for it, leaving Jeremiah to pick it up later. (A wording change between editions has added to the confusion, changing the tobacco to sweets, but it wasn't a clean edit, leaving the shopkeeper keeping the sweets but the Five also giving them to Jeremiah themselves.)
    • In 1933 the Children’s Act was repealed and replaced by the Children and Young Persons Act. Under Section 7 of the Act it was made illegal to sell cigarettes to children under 16. (From this PDF.)
    • In April 1986 the Protection of Children (Tobacco) Act was passed which made it illegal to sell any tobacco product to children aged under 16. Previously the law applied only to smoking tobacco. (Ibid.) So products like chewing tobacco were also covered from this time.
    • In March 1992 the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 came into force, which tightened up existing legislation on the sale of cigarettes to children under 16. (Ibid.)
    • Prior to 1 October 2007 the UK had a purchase age of 16; it was 18 from that date onward. If it hadn't changed since 1961 when this book was published, this adventure could not be placed any later in the order because that would double up in a holiday with another adventure.
  • Being placed quite early means Tinker, at 9 years old, isn't that much younger than Anne.
  • Julian, Dick and Anne now live within cycling distance of Kirrin, instead of the 8 hour drive from London in book 1. They also clearly live out of London in book 5.

20. Five Have A Mystery To Solve

  • Starts on first day of one month long April holiday.
  • I have to wonder why the Five have never heard of the island if it's just a little down the coast.
  • Why has George not heard of the tides in the harbour. If it's in cycling distance it's surely within sailing distance.
  • Julian, Dick & Anne live within easy cycling distance of Kirrin (George's home) and the cottage.
  • End with "Good-bye, Five – it was fun sharing in your grand adventure." It obviously refers to just this book, but unlike many, it doesn't end with any mention of waiting for their next adventure.

21. Five Are Together Again

  • Starts on first day of Easter holiday.
  • Julian, Dick & Anne live within easy cycling distance of Kirrin.
  • " 'Tinker – do you mean to say you're still being fat-headed enough to pretend to be cars and bicycles and tractors and lorries,' demanded Julian." (Page 36.)
  • If there has been a circus in the field every ten years since 1648 the present year must end in an 8. 1948? 1958? It was first published in 1963. If book 16 was in 1955 this adventure could be 1958. There are problems raised by having it in 1968 or later, not least the lack of cars owned by the Kirrins.
  • Finishes with "Hurry up and fall into another adventure... Good-bye for now..." Makes it sound very much like it's not the last adventure.


Related Research Topic: Which Famous Five books featured secret passages?

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