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756 of 1170 nominations



Is this an icon?



“The Camels are Coming!” announces the dramatic cover of the first ever Biggles book, seventeen short stories published in 1932. The illustration shows three Camel aircraft swooping towards the reader in formation. Biggles, or rather, James Bigglesworth, was “a slight, fair-haired, good-looking lad still in his teens” in this first appearance, working as a fighter pilot for the Royal Flying Corps during the first world war. Writer Captain W E Johns based the thrilling stories on his own experiences, and those of other pilots, in France.

As the years went by, Biggles undertook both military and peacetime missions, clocking up appearances in an astonishing 99 books, not including the omnibuses and spin-off titles. The boy with the “ deep-set hazel eyes” holding a “glint of yellow fire”, with hands that were as “small and delicate as a girl’s”, courageously led his friends Algy, Ginger and Bertie until 1968 when their creator died. Biggles and co lived on, however, his adventures still enjoyed by fans all over the world.

To read about early flight, click here.

Photo: Courtesy Roger Harris www.wejohns.com Copyright Oxford University Press


Your comments

Created by Captain W E Johns, James Bigglesworth has to be in any list of English icons. He embodies the qualities that any true Englishman would be proud to possess: honesty, loyalty, fairness and patriotism. What;s more, he's just the man you’d want by your side in a crisis.

Michael Tombs

I was born just after World War 2. My Dad used to read Biggles books, and one day I picked one up and was transported to the exciting world of the super flying ace and his team. It was an unputdownable book. When I met my husband he had a complete set of Biggles books, and we called our Alsatian Biggles, as he was a low flying dog. Biggles even makes an appearance in Austin Powers, such was his influence on us all when we were growing up. Biggles is the first thing I thought of when I came across Icons. He is epitomises true Englishness.
Rosemary Ralph



My nomination is the garden shed.