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Rare Biggles book sold at auction for three times its pre-sale estimate

PUBLISHED: 13:16 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 27 January 2018

Bestselling author: Captain W E Johns, creator of Biggles, with an image of his most famous character.

Bestselling author: Captain W E Johns, creator of Biggles, with an image of his most famous character.

Archant

A rare first edition of the first ever Biggles book, where the daring adventures of the fictional First World War flying ace began, has been sold at auction for three times its pre-sale estimate.

Keys auction rooms at Aylsham.
Photo: Bill Smith
Copy: ***
For: EDP news
Archant © 2005
(01603) 772434Keys auction rooms at Aylsham. Photo: Bill Smith Copy: *** For: EDP news Archant © 2005 (01603) 772434

The Camels Are Coming was the first book to feature Captain James Bigglesworth, nicknamed Biggles, of the Royal Flying Corps.

It went under the hammer at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham on Friday, January 25, and was sold to a telephone bidder for £1,800.

Its pre-sale estimate was £500 to £600.

The book contains 17 short stories featuring Biggles and his loyal sidekicks Algy, Ginger and Smyth.

It was published in 1932, and was the first of almost 100 books written by author William Earl Johns, a pilot who usually wrote under the pen name WE Johns.

His Biggles tales were wildly popular in their time, and are still fondly remembered by many enthusiasts.

Author got his wings in Norfolk

Born in India in 1893, author William Earle Johns first served as an infantryman in Gallipoli and Macedonia, before joining the Royal Flying Corps in 1917.

In September 1918 he was shot down over the Western Front; his navigator was killed, but Mr Johns survived and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war.

Before the war Johns was a sanitary inspector in Swaffham while he learned to fly at No.25 Flying Training School in Thetford.


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