Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 3 December 2005

The Passing Show (1937)
by Captain W. E. Johns

The story behind this one-off by the author of the ‘Biggles’ books is probably best told by the editor of My Garden magazine in 1937, Theo A. Stephens: ‘The offices of My Garden were next door to those of Popular Flying, of which paper Captain Johns was, and still is, the editor … I asked Captain Johns whether he had ever written about any of his gardening experiences. He replied that he had not, but was so tired of writing articles and books on flying that it would be a relief and recreation to write on gardening. Commencing with a number of disconnected articles he, early this year, started a regular monthly feature under the title of ‘The Passing Show’, which feature has proved so popular that I decided it was worthy of more permanent presentation.’ The result is a readable, witty book with charming illustrations by Howard Leigh. Only occasionally does the author of Biggles reveal himself, as when he writes on page 38: ‘CASUALTY LIST: Seriously injured. Several kabschia saxifrages. Sick. Heeria elegans. Missing, believed killed. Rhodo- hypoxis platypetala.’

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in