E Johns was a prolific writer; I loved his work as
a child, and have rediscovered his stories at intervals over the years.
I remember being thrilled as a youngster, and am now impressed at how
good his writing is to an adult mind. I can appreciate the pace and
the humour, admire the economy of his prose, and recognise the lessons
he gives. Johns stresses the importance of accepting all peoples without
’While men are decent to me
I try to be decent to them, regardless of race, colour, politics,
creed, or anything else,’ asserted Biggles curtly. ‘I’ve
travelled a bit, and taking the world by and large, it’s my
experience that with a few exceptions there’s nothing wrong
with the people on it, if only they were left alone to live as they
want to live.’*
Although Johns had many interests, it is as a writer
of air stories that he is best known, and his descriptions of flight,
particularly air warfare, are exceptional. Himself a pilot in the First
World War, Johns never forgot his experiences, and drew upon them throughout
his career. That generations of airmen and women claim his hero Biggles
as their inspiration speaks for itself. He wrote thrillingly of war
in the air, but always pointed out the futility of war and never glorified
it. He was particularly clear sighted in his descriptions of men with
nerves stretched to breaking point by the horrors around them.
worked as an aviation artist but this tailed off with the success of
his writing. (See example right.)
Gravesite: Johns' ashes were scattered in Kingston Cemetary,
Surrey. To find the spot, you need the reference X5/35.
Walking right as you come out of the crematorium, left if you are approaching
it, you come to a series of stone markers. One of these is 5,
although the reference is no longer visible on it. Walking away
from the marker for 35 strides, you come out between two lone bushes,
to a little grass clearing, bordered by a seat and some trees.
would like to thank Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd, Literary Agents,
representing W E Johns (Publications) Ltd, for kindly allowing the use
of the above quote from Biggles Delivers the Goods.
Thanks to Roger Harris for use of the picture above.
Click on the picture to go to Biggles.info website, with links to Roger's
other websites devoted to W E Johns and Biggles.