Famous Authors

Ben-Hur

1951, Famous Authors Illustrated.

You can get a good idea of just how old these books are by the price. This one is only 10 cents compared to today's $3.99 and more for one issue of far fewer pages.

This story is excessively heavy-handed on the religious element.

Ben-Hur was Jewish, living during the time of the Roman occupation. He accidentally kills a Roman governor and is sentenced to being a galley-slave. Later he saves the life of an important Roman and is adopted and ends up rich.

Then it takes a step back a little in time to the birth of Jesus.

The rest of the story is followed by a text section which is about what happened to Ben-Hur and his wealth after the end of the story. After this is another section entitled The World of the Law. Escape from a French War Prison follows (which, of course, has nothing to do with anything else in this issue.) Then another text section follows, The Cheating of Hadschi Stravos.

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Captain Blood

Seaboard Publishers.

Peter Blood is a doctor/surgeon/expert surgeon who has been thrown into prison by James II of England. He was tried in 1685. A bunch of people are to hang as rebels, but the king decides to ship them off to plantations to work for ten years. In effect, he's sold them into slavery. Blood and a seventeen-year-old boy are sold into slavery. They will work on a sugar cane plantation.

Arabella's father is the one who bought them. Blood falls for Arabella. The Spanish attack the English colony on Barbados. Bloods men take over the Spanish ship and kill the Spaniards when they try to return to their own craft. Blood and his crew then become pirates.

Now that Blood's has successful sunk a bunch of Spanish boats the English government suddenly decides that they want him back and will forgive his status as a slave. (How generous of them.) The story continues with a lot more fighting and deception by a greedy French captain.

Duke of Monmoth (text): Factual material.

James II (text): Factual material.

Rafael Sabatini (text): Factual material.

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Macbeth

Seaboard Publishing. 1950.

A notice says 'Adopted from the original text for easy and enjoyable reading.' It starts out with Scotland having just driven out some Norsemen under the leadership of General Macbeth. Macbeth is told he will be a king. Macbeth's wife is the one who wants to kill Duncan and make sure that Macbeth becomes king. The deed is done even though Macbeth at first has second thoughts about their plans.

Banquo and his son manage to get away and become Macbeth's next targets. Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost. Macbeth gets more prophecies from the three witches. Two of the prophecies would seem to make Macbeth unbeatable, but prophecies can become truths in different ways.

After the story there's a text section titled Some Interesting People Live in the Dictionary. This is followed by another text entry called Mollycoddle. Then there's one called The Riddle of Angkor.

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Nicholas Nickleby

Volume 1, #9, November 1950, D.S. Publishing.

The story takes place in England in 1838. Dickens wanted to expose the terrible way boys were treated in schools at that time, and also wants to show about what could happen in debtor's prisons. At that time it was perfectly legal to put a person in prison because he owed debts and couldn't pay them.

Uncle Nickelby is rich, nasty, and would make Scrooge proud. His relatives come to him for aid as their father has died and the three of them need some help. (The dead guy's wife, Nicholas, his son, and Kate, his daughter.)

He is willing to help get Nicholas a teaching job in a boy's school. The schoolmaster is a horrible man who treats the boys very, very badly, starving them while eating all he wants in front of them. He even makes the students work on a farm part time and cheats them out of breakfast and lunch.

Nicholas fights the schoolmaster and ends up escaping, vowing to see the school closed. Nicholas and one of the boys get hired, Nicholas as a play writer and the boy as an actor. The schoolmaster works with the uncle to kidnap the boy from the school, all as a plan to get back at Nicholas.

Still, the evil that men do ofttimes comes back to bite them, and it bites the Uncle very, very strongly. An excellent story.

There are other things in the issue, including an article on skiing, an article on Cinderella's fur shoes (not glass but fur), and the poem Casey at the Bat.

This comic reminds me of the series put out by Classics Illustrated. The story is well done and the artwork is also very good.

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Romeo and Juliet

1950, Famous Authors Ltd.

There are two major families who are feuding with each other. The situation has gotten to bad that the population in general is in danger. The feud has been going on for generations. The main characters are Romeo and Juliet, each from one of the feuding families. They are in love but overcoming the hateful feelings on the sides of both families is beyond them.

They manage to get married in secret but they will stay apart until they feel it is safe to announce their marriage (which, of course, it would never be.)

Romeo, being hot headed, ends up involved in some duels that result in death and thus violate the Prince's banning of such fighting. Things get complicated when Juliet is promised in marriage to some other guy. The end of the story is well known to all.

Zadig by Voltaire (text): Zadig is sort of like Sherlock Holmes in being able to read clues and come to accurate conclusions, but in his case it just gets him into a lot of trouble.

The Purple Lock of Nisus: A kingdom is under attack but the ruler knows the city will be safe as long as he wears a purple lock. His daughter, though, falls in love with one of the attacks and betrays her father by taking the purple lock. The guy won't have anything to do with her, though, and she gets transformed into an eagle.

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Scarlet Pimpernel

Seaboard Publishers.

The opening says the Scarlet Pimpernel is the leader of a group of young English men who want to save royalists from the revolutionaries in France. The story starts in 1792. France has sent agents into England to try to find out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is and to catch him.

(This was when lots of people were being murdered daily by having their heads cut off because they were royalty or supported royalty. The masses were entertained by such activities even though they were barbaric.)

Chauvelin is the main French spy in the story. An woman agrees to help him in order to free her brother held in France. The woman ends up thinking that her husband, to all appearances dull and rather stupid, is really the Scarlet Pimpernel and she has basically set up his capture.

The woman and a friend go to France to try to warn her husband who was also planning to free her brother. Her husband proves to be able to use disguises, though, and justice is dealt to Chauvelin.

The French Revolution (text, factual): A one-page review of the revolution.

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Scarmouche

1951, Famous Authors Illustrated.

The story takes place around the time of the French Revolution. The story notes that only the rich cut hunt on their land, and that poaching was a severe crime. Andre Moreau is a lawyer at that time. Philippe is a friend of his and is studying for the priesthood. He's angry about a poor man killed for being a poacher.

The owner of the area, Marquis, and Philippe get into a duel and Philippe dies, making Andre angry. He joins the revolutionary movement and swears to kill the Marquis. He ends up fleeing and joining a group of actors for a bit and then takes fencing lessons so he can be ready to face the Marquis.

Andre is given a job of rescuing a couple of women from Paris. One of them he doesn't want to rescue since she's 'an enemy of the common people,' but it turns out there's a secret about the woman he surprised to learn about, to say the least.

That was really a time of mob rule with the mob going all over the place and taking aristocrats and hanging them. It was a time of anarchy. The nobles had abused the regular people, without any doubt at all, but the mob rule just isn't the right way to go.

The Shark Fighters (text): Factual.

The Necklace: A woman and her husband get invited to a ball in France. The wife borrows a diamond necklace from a friend. Or at least what she thinks is a diamond necklace.

Tank Tactics at Carthage in 214 B.C. (text): Factual information.

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She

Seaboard Publishers.

L.H.Holly is a professor telling a story to his students. He tells how a friend of his showed up at his place one day wanting him to help out in getting revenge for a murder that took place 2000 years previously. Holly agrees to bring up the guy's son since the friend was dying.

Leo, the son, decides to carry out the plan of revenge his father had been working on. The woman responsible for the murder in the past had become immortal. She shows up and thinks that Leo is her long lost love (that she murdered in a fit of jealousy.) She drugs him and plans to make him immortal like her, but revenge is served instead.

Henry Ryder Haggard (text): Factual material. Other factual materials include The Dark Continent and The Civilization of Ancient Egypt.

The story is a good one, quite interesting, and the artwork is really good.

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Svengali, The Story of Trilby

1951, Famous Authors.

The story takes place in Paris in the 1850's. Taffy, Sandy and Billy are three guys living in an artist's studio. Svengali shows up wanting to play their piano. A woman (Miss Trilby) shows up and proves she can't sing, but Svengali thinks she will become famous.

Billy was going to marry Trilby, but his parents show up and say she's not good enough for him so she runs away. Some years later Billy meets his friends and finds out Trilby is a singer working under Svengali. Svengali had used hypnotism to control others. Although he dies of a heart attack he's not the only one who dies and the story does not have a happy ending.

The First Commandos (text): A very interesting factual account of how youth were brought up to be vicious soldiers and then were done away with then they became a threat to the powers in charge.

William Tell: A story giving background and after-events to the basic story of William Tell shooting an apple off the head of his son.

How the Rajah Took the Census (text): An interesting story on how a ruler determined just how many people he had in his kingdom and how much in taxes he was taking in.

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The Window

1950, Seaboard Publishers.

The first page has information on the movie, the boy who played in the movie, and the author.

The story is similar to Aesop's Fable 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' in that Tommy, the boy, had told many stories of his own from his imagination but when he sees a real murder happen, no one (but the murderer) will believe him. He lives in a very poor portion of the town. His parents don't believe him when he tells them about the murder, and neither do the police. The only people who believe him are the murderers. They plan to kill him but things don't work out the way they expected.

The First Dive Bombers (text): About falcons.

Daredevil Fugitive (text): About Simon Kenton. He got into a fight and was not sure if he killed the guy so he fled to the frontier.

Post Office Words (text): Information on mail, stamps and the post office.


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