Costumes of English Literary Characters: Jim Starling


Figure 1.--This is the cover of the first Jim Starling book. Notice Jim's mates in the background. Also notice where the boys live--poor housing in an industrial area. The illustrator here was R. Payne.

E.W. Hildick (1925- ) wrote the "Jim Starling" series. Our information on this character is stll very limited. Jim Starling is an English boy who visits a technical school at Cement Street. His friends are: Terry Todd, Grimshaw and Nip Challons. The first "Jim Starling" book was published in 1958 in England, known just as Jim Starling. Several books in the series were published in the United States. We know of the following books in the series: Jim Starling, Jim Starling and the Colonel, Jim Starling Goes to Town, Jim Starling and the Spotted Dog, Jim Starling and the Agency, and Jim Starling Takes Over. A HBC reader wonders if anyone knows of any additional books in the series or any other information about the books. One interesting aspect of the series was that it was not set in exclusive private schools. Most English school stories are set in public and preparatory schools, both privae schools where only a small part of the British public could aford to send their children.

Author

Edmund Wallace Hildick (1925-2001) wrote the "Jim Starling" series. We do not know much about him at this time. A reader writes, "Speaking for myself it is a pity that Hildick wrote only seven Jim Starling-books. He produced many, many other work in his career but those are all stories for younger children. Not really interesting for someone who "adores" Jim Starling and Co."

Characters

The Jim Starling series is about of course Jim Starling and his four best friends. Jim himself is an English boy who attends a technical school at Cement Street. Notice that he does not go to an academically selective grammar school. His friends are: Terry Todd, Grimshaw and Nip Challons. Grimshaw is called "Goggles" because he is wearing a pair of glasses). Challons, named "Nip". In Jim Starling's Holiday" we found out his full name is Brian Challons. The boys are 13 or 14 year old. There are many books about boys attending private schools or grammar schools. Books about boys attending secondary moderns or in this case a technical school are much less common.

Setting

One interesting aspect of the series was that it was not set in exclusive private schools. Most English school stories are set in public and preparatory schools, both privae schools where only a small part of the British public could aford to send their children. Thus the setting was not one in which the average British child could picture himself and herself. Norice the background in the cover here (figure 1). The neigborhood is poor, industrial housing. And notice the industrial plant behind the houses. Very few grammar school boys would come from this neighborhood, let alone boys goung to private schools.

Chronology

The books have a contemprary setting, meaning the late 1950s and early 60s. The first three books are set in May, June, and July from the same year.

Plots

In some books the boys are talking about adventures in previous books, however, in some books they are discussing adventures we don't know about it for we couldn't read about in in the other books. Six books do have a short summary, printed on the dust jacked or on the back-side. One of them ("Jim Starling Goes to town") does not have it.

Illustrators

We do not know much about the illustrators of the Jim Starling books. The illustrator for the cover here was R. Payne (figure 1). We do not know anything about him. He did most of the covers. We note another illustrator did the cover for Jim Starling and the Colonel (1960).

The Series

The first "Jim Starling" book was published in 1958 in England, known just as Jim Starling. We know of the following books in the series: Jim Starling (1958), Jim Starling and the Colonel (1960), Jim Starling and the Agency (1958), Jim Starling's Holiday (1960), Jim Starling and the Colonel (1960), Jim Starling Takes Over (1963), Jim Starling and the Spotted Dog (1963), Jim Starling Goes to Town (1963), and Jim Starling Goes to town (1963). A HBC reader tells us that this is the complete series. He wonders if anyone has any further information about the books. Here is the plot summaries for the various volumes.

Clothing Details

The boys here for their Summer vacation are wearing casual shirts and blue jeans. The covers show the boys wearing these same outfits. I'm not sure what their scghool uniform was.

Foreign Distribution

Several books in the series were published in the United States. A Dutch reader tells us, "In Holland only "Jim Starling" was translated in 1964 into the Dutch language. There was announced it was the first book of a series. Therefore I became very curious when I found out there were 7 Jim Starling-titles. By the way: the Dutch title of the book "Jim Starling" is "Jim als detective" (in English would it be something like: "Jim as detective" or "Jim plays detective").

Reader Comment

A reader writes, "The way the boys behave is similar to the four "Rex Milligan-stories", written by Anthony Buckerigde ("famous by his Jennings-series"). But the Jim Starling-series is also very pleasant to read."

Sources

Beringen, John. E-mail message, April 14, 2005.






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Created: April 4, 2003
Last updated: 4:59 PM 4/17/2005