pile of pink books on a white table

35 Things We Learned from The Famous Five

When I was a child, I was obsessed with The Famous Five books, by Enid Blyton.

To this day, I cannot drink ginger beer or explore a network of secret underground passages without thinking about good old Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog. I loved Enid Blyton’s other books, too ( The Adventure Series was my favourite, although there is also a special place in my heart for The Magic Faraway Tree) and, to the horror of my friends and family, I will occasionally re-read these books if it’s been a particularly long, hard winter and I’m in need of some comfort reading. I recommend it. Not only will you be swept away into a world of crazy smugglers and sinister old castles, but you will also learn some important life lessons, such as:

pile of pink books on a white table1. All underground caves have a stream running through them. If you find yourself trapped in one (by smugglers, natch), all you have to do is follow the stream to the place where it breaks ground, and you will be freed.

2. You will almost always end up trapped in an underground cave during the “hols”, so you better have been paying attention to point 1.

3. Don’t worry, though – your faithful dog or other animal friend will guide you through the dark, winding tunnels to safety if the underground stream thing doesn’t work out.

4. If you don’t have a handy animal, the circus folk camping near you will lend you one.

5. There will always be circus folk camping near you.

6. Some of them will secretly be smugglers, though.

7. About those tunnels… If your animal friend has been, say, poisoned by the smugglers/circus folk, you should unwind a ball of string or make chalk markings on the walls as you walk, so that you can find your way out again.

8. You will use your torch to see these chalk markings/bits of string.

9. You do HAVE a torch on you at all times, don’t you?

10. While escaping from the smugglers, remember to always observe regular meal times, even if you are underground/in grave danger.

11. It’s OK: you will always discover a bag of Barley Sugar and some potted meat sandwiches in your pocket.

12. Right next to the notebook and pencil that you carry with you AT ALL TIMES.

13. Friendly farm folks that you meet on your travels will supply the barely sugar, potted meat and also: ginger beer. You’ll have to supply the pencil and notebook yourself, though.

14. Ginger beer cures almost every ill.

15. And while we’re on the subject: food that you eat outdoors always tastes SO MUCH BETTER, don’t you think?

16. If the people you meet along the way have slightly ridiculous names, they can probably be trusted. Examples: Nobby, Fanny, Dimmy. (No offence to anyone called Nobby or Fanny, by the way. If your first name is ‘Dimmy’, though, well, good luck to you.)

17. If the people you meet along the way are crazy old men who warn you to NEVER GO NEAR THE OLD CASTLE AT NIGHTFALL, you should wait until nightfall and then go there immediately.

18. Not if you’re a girl, though. If you’re a girl you should remain at home, preparing a slap up dinner for the hungry adventurers, with lashings and lashings of ginger beer and some delicious ices for afters. Remember: you may like to think that you’re “as good as a boy” any day, but you’re really not.

19. But back to those smugglers…

20. Don’t worry too much about the smugglers, because most arch villains are relatively harmless.

21. I mean, they may tie you up and leave you in an underground cave (in fact, they almost certainly will), but they will not otherwise lay a finger on you.

22. You’ll be able to use your penknife to cut the ropes that bind you and escape by the light of your torch, though.

23. What do you mean, there’s no room for a penknife in your pocket, what with all the ginger beer, torches, notebooks and barley sugars?

24. OK, the monkey will carry the penknife for you.

25. You WILL encounter a monkey at some point in your adventure.

26. Thank goodness all monkeys are friendly, eh?

27. Also: all dogs can climb ladders. Which is lucky, because how else will you get down into the caves?

28. All islands and castles have a dark secret.

29. It normally involves smugglers.

30. As soon as you arrive at the sinister old castle you will be holidaying at, you should seek out the secret passage. This will save you a lot of time later.

31. The secret passage is located behind a sliding panel which you will find either in your bedroom or in the library

32. Every building has a secret passage. And a library, come to think of it.

33. The secret passage leads to underground caves.

34. Which are used by smugglers.

35. So you better have paid attention to point 1, eh?

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books by Amber Eve
  • Stacy


    I loved The Famous Five growing up and had all of the books (and even a couple of ‘inspired by’ books, that whilst not as good were not bad either.

    I always got disappointed though when I couldn’t find that secret passage in an old cave, or in the disused sheds at school 🙂

    March 11, 2016
  • Amberre


    Haha! Absolutely great post! I do love those kids and lashings of ginger beer.

    March 13, 2016
  • Petticoat


    Hilarious! And so true!

    March 13, 2016
  • Lily


    I loved the Famous Five so much as a kid. All I really remembered was the never ending summers, adventures and the secret passages everywhere! When I reread a volume (Treasure Island, I think) on holiday last year, I found I just couldn’t deal with the horrendous gender stuff in there. I mean Anne… Anne is such a goddamn wet blanket. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF, WOMAN. And the boys are complete chauvinists.

    I think I’m going to let Famous Five fade into my past, so I can remember all the wonderful things about it. I’m just too much of an old cynic now.

    March 14, 2016
  • Tracey


    I now have all the Famous Five books on my kindle so no-one can judge me for reading them at my age! It always amazed me how there were so many circuses in England, because they certainly weren’t around in Australia. And Anne had it right, food eaten outdoors DOES ALWAYS TASTE SO MUCH BETTER.

    God I love those books, even now. I think I still might have my original copies of the Adventure series. That’s this weekend sorted then.

    March 15, 2016
  • I’ve never read the Famous Five books, but we grew up reading the Adventure Series!! I should give those a re-read 🙂

    March 17, 2016
  • Cassie H


    Loved these books as a kid and always wanted to go for similar adventures!

    January 30, 2017
  • Oh my goodness, this quotes is really good. My favourite quote is the first one because that helped me to lookout for the stream on the cracked floor, and it made me smile once I read it that always make me realise that’s the way out to be freed I didn’t know that at all but now I know what this quote is saying, how awesome I loved it!

    August 18, 2017
  • This is amazing, so funny, and took me back to an age where I read The Famous Five religiously! I loved Enid Blyton’s books, and i agree that the Magic Faraway Tree books were fab. Also loved St Clares and Mallory Towers!

    Paula http://insertmyblognamehere.blogspot.co.uk

    August 19, 2017
  • Love this post Amber. But don’t forget you always need to keep a can opener in your pocket. They always seemed to eat loads of tinned food when they were alone. However, when some adult made a meal for them, for some reason it was always ham salad.

    August 23, 2018
  • I absolutely loved the famous five and this has really made me chuckle.
    Ashleigh x

    January 1, 2019
  • Emily Kate


    Just found this and it had me in bits! I adored Enid Blyton books as a kid, and I definitely feel the need for a good adventure while in lockdown, so I’ll be digging my old copies out for sure!

    April 12, 2020
  • Yara Hartkoorn


    Hilarious!! Superb post, brought it all back.. thanks.

    May 26, 2020
  • Tatterfell


    I read like till the 18th book out of the 22nd. And OH GOD aren’t these all true 🤣.
    The dog, the monkey, circus and caves….🤣🤣
    Love the sarcasm

    December 16, 2021