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W E Johns, Creator of Biggles

W E Johns
W E Johns

William Earl Johns was born in 1893 in Bengeo in Hertfordshire, England.

During the First World War, he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He served as a machine gunner at Gallipoli and in Greece and, from 1918, as a fighter pilot. He learned to fly in a Maurice Farman Shorthorn and soon became a flying instructor. Johns was posted to France where he flew DH2's on photographic and bombing raids over Germany. In 1918, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. A squadron of eight German fighters attacked his damaged plane, killing his gunner and causing the plane to crash. Johns became a prisoner of war. He escaped twice but was caught and sentenced to death. Fortunately, the war ended before the sentence was carried out.

After the War, Johns stayed in the Royal Air Force as a flying instructor and, later, a recruiting officer. He attained the rank of Flying Officer (not Captain), although he later called himself "Captain: W.E. Johns".

In 1931, he left the RAF to pursue a career as an illustrator of aircraft for magazines, books, brochures and so on. He also wrote some short stories, based on the wartime adventures of himself and his Air Force friends, for which he invented the character of Biggles.

The Biggles stories became extremely popular. John eventually produced 96 Biggles novels, numerous short stories and 71 other books - including air adventure novels featuring Worrals and Gimlet and non-fiction books on aviation.

Johns died in 1968 while working on the book "Biggles Does Some Homework", which he had planned to be the last Biggles adventure.

Biggles books & memorabilia now available (at eBay):

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BIGGLES IN THE GOBI W.E. Johns 1st edition 1953 HC hardcover copy jacket STEAD

AU $29.99
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BIGGLES TAKES THE CASE W.E. Johns 1952 HC hardcover copy jacket STEAD

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BIGGLES IN AFRICA W.E. Johns 1952 HC hardcover with copy jacket ALFRED SINDALL

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BIGGLES HITS THE TRAIL W.E. Johns 1951 HC hardcover copy jacket ALFRED SINDALL

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BIGGLES WORKS IT OUT 1st thus 1971 W.E. Johns VINTAGE PAPERBACK

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BIGGLES LEARNS TO FLY 1st thus 1963 W.E. Johns VINTAGE PAPERBACK illustrated

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BIGGLES IN THE TERAI 1st edition thus 1968 W.E. Johns VINTAGE PAPERBACK

AU $15.99
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