THESE ARE SOLEY UNDER MY OWN OPINION AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE
Picture from The Totally Thomas Blog
The Railway Series was first published in 1945 by the Rev.W.Awdry. The first book was called 'The Three Railway Engines' featuring three characters like Edward, Gordon and Henry. Originally, Wilbert Awdry wanted the book to focus on three different railways and wanted to end with Henry being bricked up in a tunnel, but the publishers at the time, Kaye and Ward, wanted a happy ending for Henry. The first story was thought up by Wilbert Awdry in 1943 when his son, Christopher, was sick with measles and so his father was telling him a story about an engine who never got out of his shed and since Christopher asked the question, 'What's the engine's name daddy?' the name Edward came to mind and that is were the legacy of the Railway Series began.
The second book was produced a year later and it was entitled 'Thomas the Tank Engine' after Rev.W.Awdry made a wooden model of a little blue engine and called him Thomas. The books have been going on and on, with many past artists and narrators (Johnny Morris and Willie Rushton) for the audio books until 1972 when Wilbert Awdry wrote his last book 'Tramway Engines'. Eleven years later, Christopher Awdry took the pen and released his first book 'Really Useful Engines' in 1983. With the popularity of the TV series took place a year later, the Railway Series were being sold everywhere and Christopher wrote more until 1996 with his final book 'New Little Engines'. A year later, Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry passed away peacefully due to illness.
1998 - 2006 saw nothing new from the Awdry family as Britt Allcroft bought the full rights. But there has been one book written by him under his label 'Sodor Enterprises' with 'Sodor: Reading Between The Lines' being released in 2005 in celebration of the books' 60th anniversary. The book contains every piece of information from Christopher Awdry himself about the books and its stories. But two years later, the Railway Series made a comeback and he wrote his new book 'Thomas and Victoria'. Four years later, in celebration of the Rev.W.Awdry's centenary 'Thomas and His Friends' was published. With a very rich history this little blue tank engine has, what will happen to the Railway Series in future?
And since we're now in the 21st century were many people have an iPhone, iPad, Kindle or an Android, many books have been turned into digital books and the Railway Series is part of that group on iTunes UK. HIT Entertainment/Mattel and Egmont have released four books of the Railway Series only in the UK on iTunes and they are:
- The Three Railway Engines
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- James the Red Engine
- Tank Engine Thomas Again
Not only that, but the UK, US and Australia have gotten the narration of Johnny Morris narrated the last two stories of 'The Three Railway Engines' in great quality with the original album cover of 7' records from 1961 as the wallpaper. The Railway Series would provide great nostalgia towards the people who have grown up with the series in their early years and introduce them to the younger generation of Thomas fans and to get them into reading. Only four books have been digitised and are only released in the UK, however they could release them internationally one day in future like the Johnny Morris narration. If you want Egmont to make more of these, buy these books for your children or for your own enjoyment or write letters to Egmont about the Railway Series. Long live The Railway Series!