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Bill Bucko


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This is a slightly abridged version of the essay I prepared for the Ayn Rand Archives. The Appendices have been omitted, along with a little information not of general interest.

Ayn Rand’s second French children’s magazine




by Bill Bucko




1 - St. Nicholas – the American magazine

The British affiliate

2 - The French St. Nicolas

3 - Bibliothèque Nationale de France

The Library of Congress

4 - St. Nicolas and L’Écolier illustré

Three individual numbers, 1888-1903

The new format: serials, serials, and serials!


The Belgian edition

5 - Detailed contents, 1909-1915

Letters pages and contests

The end of the magazines


A St. Nicholas Magazine – background information

B Contents of the American St. Nicholas, 1913-1915

C Bookseller listings of St. Nicolas

D Bookseller listings of L’Écolier illustré

E Delagrave serials later republished as novels

F Other authors


This essay is based on personal examination of the following items in my collection:

St. Nicholas
– 6 individual numbers from 1878, 1879, 1881, and 1918

St. Nicholas
– bound volumes for 1896 and 1898-99

St. Nicolas
– individual number dated Sept. 6, 1888

L’Écolier illustré
– individual number dated Mar. 11, 1897

L’Écolier illustré
– individual number dated Dec. 17, 1903

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1909

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1910

St. Nicolas
– 51 individual numbers for Jan. - Dec. 1910

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1911

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1912

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1913 (2 different copies)

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for Jan. - June 1914
(“Premier Semestre”)

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1914 (2 different copies)

L’Écolier illustré
– bound volume for 1915

St. Nicolas
– bound volume for 1915 (3 different copies); and

a publicity poster for
St. Nicolas
dated 1887.

I also cite information found on the internet when it seems relevant and reliable. But there are, as far as I can see, no debatable or unverified issues.


Before publishing Maurice Champagne’s La Vallée Mystérieuse in book form (1915), the French firm of Delagrave serialized it in two magazines:

St. Nicolas journal illustré pour garçons et filles (“St. Nicolas illustrated journal for boys and girls”), and

L’Écolier illustré (“The Illustrated Schoolboy”), a shorter, plainer, budget magazine that carried the same serials.

Since Miss Rand distinctly remembered the second children’s magazine she subscribed to as a “boys’ magazine,” it’s highly probable it was L’Écolier illustré rather than St. Nicolas. The French St. Nicolas began publication in 1879 as an affiliate of the celebrated American children’s magazine St. Nicholas, though by 1909 the two magazines shared little if any content in common. L’Écolier illustré began publication in 1890. Both French magazines ceased publication at the end of 1915, due to World War I.

La Vallée Mystérieuse appeared in L’Écolier illustré in 30 weekly installments of 7 or 8 pages each, from May 14, 1914 through December 3, 1914, and one month earlier in St Nicolas.


St. Nicholas is widely considered to be the best children’s magazine ever published. Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Longfellow, Mark Twain, and Jack London all wrote for it; contributing artists included Howard Pyle, Frederick Remington, Arthur Rackham, and Maxfield Parrish. It saw the first publication of such classics as Kipling’s Jungle Book and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “Sara Crewe” (1887-88), the early version of A Little Princess.

From the ads section (page 7), of the December 1878 issue:

... Messrs. SCRIBNER & CO., in 1873, began the publication of ST. NICHOLAS, an Illustrated Magazine for girls and boys, with Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge as Editor. Five years have passed since the first number was issued, and the magazine has won a position second to none. It has a monthly circulation of over 50,000 copies. It is published simultaneously in London and New-York, and the transatlantic recognition is almost as general and hearty as the American. John G. Whittier has said: “It is little to say of this magazine that it is the best child’s periodical in the world.” The New York Tribune has said of it: “ST. NICHOLAS has reached a higher platform, and commands for its service wider resources in art and letters than any of its predecessors or contemporaries;” and the London Literary World has said: “There is no magazine for the young that can be said to equal this choice production of Scribner’s Press.”

According to an encyclopedia:

Mary Mapes Dodge was born Jan. 26, 1831 in New York, N.Y., and died Aug. 21, 1905, in Onteora Park, N.Y. Besides editing St. Nicholas, she was best known as the author of
Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates

St Nicholas was a monthly. The number of pages varied, increasing from 60 pages in earlier issues to 94 pages in later ones, plus pages of ads at the beginning and end. The magazine is still prized by collectors, and dozens of individual numbers and bound volumes are offered for sale every day on the internet.

The British affiliate

As far as publication in London, St. Nicholas changed its British affiliate a number of times. Three early issues of the American magazine (Dec. 1878, June 1879 and August 1879) all give the name of their British publisher on the front cover, as: Sampson Low Marston & Co., London. Two slightly later issues (Feb. 1881 and Oct. 1881) list Frederick Warne & Co., London (later famous as publisher of Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter tales). Warne was also their affiliate in 1886 (according to photos of issues offered for sale on the internet), but issues for 1887, 1888 and 1890 list T. Fisher Unwin: Paternoster Square, London on their covers, instead. An 1898 issue gives their affiliate as MacMillan. But a 1908 cover lists Warne, again! I have come across no precise information on the subject, but presumably the American and British magazines featured largely or entirely the same content.

The American magazine changed publishers late in 1881, when the Scribners company was taken over by The Century Co. (See Appendix A.)

Both my own examination of several copies, and the content descriptions of numerous issues offered for sale, make abundantly clear that St. Nicholas preserved the same format throughout its entire history: many short pieces (both fiction and non-fiction) per issue. See Appendix B for content listings for the American St. Nicholas Magazine, for 1913-1915.


The “big break” in discovering the second French children’s magazine the young Ayn Rand subscribed to, came in January 2006, when I noticed that a French dealer who was offering a copy of La Vallée Mystérieuse for sale also offered a 1915 bound volume of a periodical published by Delagrave, called St. Nicolas journal illustré pour garçons et filles (“St. Nicolas illustrated journal for boys and girls”). I lost no time in purchasing it.

The French firm of Delagrave (established 1865 by Charles Delagrave) is still in existence as an educational publisher, though its website gives no hint of its colorful past as a purveyor of children’s pulp fiction. According to booksellers’ descriptions on the internet (see Appendix C), Delagrave began publishing St. Nicolas in December 1879, as a weekly (“hebdomadaire”) “Journal paraissant tous les Jeudis” (magazine appearing every Thursday). Volume 1, nominally 1880, contained December 1879 through November 1880. The last volume (Volume 36), nominally 1915, contained December 1914 through November 1915.

When I first discovered this magazine, I wondered at the title’s similarity to the famous American magazine. But an extensive search of the internet gave no evidence of any connection. Nor did the 1915 bound volume itself offer a clue. (The bound volumes of St. Nicolas I have seen do not include the magazine’s front cover.) However, once I acquired an individual number of St. Nicolas from 1888, I saw that the French magazine copied the American magazine’s front cover design (modifying the portrait of St. Nicholas to make him a Catholic bishop); and near the bottom of the 1888 front cover, the French magazine lists two affiliates:


Soc. franc. de librairie, Perspective Newsky.”

(i.e. “St. Petersburg French Library Society, Nevsky Prospect”

Judging from its name, this was a redistributor of the French edition, not a publisher of a Russian-language edition. As students of Russian literature know, it was considered de rigueur for all cultured Russians to become fluent in French.)



The Century Co, Union square.”

So clearly, the French magazine began as an affiliate of the American one. But the French St. Nicolas is mentioned or referred to in no American issue I’ve seen.

I do not know the nature of the business relationship between them. But the relationship was evidently not a close one:

(1) As we’ve noted, the American magazine changed its foreign affiliate in Great Britain a number of times, suggesting that the relationship was simply a licensing deal;

(2) The American magazine prominently advertised Mary Mapes Dodge as the editor, in every issue, whereas none of the French magazines or booksellers’ listings I’ve examined mention her;

(3) In two early numbers of the French magazines* I’ve examined (1888 and 1903), only one piece per issue is translated or adapted from the American magazine, the majority of the material being original; in an issue from 1897, none of the stories or articles is identified as coming from the American
St. Nicholas
. (Whether any material originated by Delagrave ever found its way into the pages of the American magazine, I don’t know);

(* As we’ll see, Delagrave began publication of a budget version of
St. Nicolas
in 1890, titled
L’Écolier illustré

(4) In 1909, the French magazine entirely abandoned the American magazine’s format of many short pieces (fiction and non-fiction) per issue, and instead offered basically just 4 serials per year;

(5) When the French St. Nicolas closed at the end of 1915 due to World War I, the American magazine went on publishing without a break until 1940.

I’ve acquired individual numbers of St. Nicolas from 1910, and found they have the same front cover design as in 1888 (except that the list of foreign affiliates is replaced by a brief summary of contents). There is no mention of The Century Company or the American St. Nicholas anywhere in the 1910 magazines.

There’s a wealth of evidence on the internet to indicate that for the period we’re chiefly interested in (1913-1915), the American and French magazines did not share the same content (see Appendix ). La Vallée Mystérieuse and other French serials appeared in the French magazine but not the American one.


When I looked up St. Nicolas on the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), I learned it had a sister publication, L’Écolier illustré, said to have the same text (“Même texte”).

Of the several catalogs on the BNF’s website, the ones to search are:

Catalogue Bn-Opale Plus at

or, alternatively:

Catalogue collectif de France/CCFr) (Union Catalog of France)


which includes BN-Opale Plus,

municipal libraries, and

university libraries.

Neither magazine title can be found under: Periodiques electroniques.

BN-Opaline is a collection of maps, etc.

Mandragore is the collection of medieval mss.

The U.S. Library of Congress, by the way, has only a single year of St. Nicolas, and no holdings at all of L’Écolier illustré. Their online listing at :

St. Nicolas. Journal illustré pour garcons & filles ...

LC Control Number: ca 14000426

Type of Material: Serial (Periodical, Newspaper, etc.)

Main Title: St. Nicolas. Journal illustré pour garcons & filles ...

Published/Created: Paris, C. Delagrave [n.d.]

Description: v. illus. (part col.) 28 cm.

Current Frequency: Unknown

Notes: Serial.

PREMARC/SERLOC merged record

LC Classification: AP203 .S3

Serial Record Entry: St. Nicolas. Journal illustré pour garcons & filles ... ca14-426


Copy 1

does not specify which years they have. But in response to an inquiry from Shoshana Milgram, the LOC replied:

“I have checked the stacks and found that we have only one volume

of this French publication. The volume includes weekly issues dating from

December 5, 1912 to November 27, 1913.”

Returning to the French library: from (CCFr search page):

Type de document Périodiques

Titre [saint-Nicolas]

Autre(s) titre(s) Saint-Nicolas Paris


Langue Français

Publication Paris, Ch. Delagrave : 1880-1914

ISSN 1259-6728

Notes Même texte que : Ecolier (L') illustré (Paris)

Exemplaire 1

Cote et fonds 8-Z-1562, Tolbiac - Rez de jardin - Magasin

Communicabilité Prêt entre bibliothèques : non, Non prêtable,

Reproductible avec restriction.

And here’s the listing for L’Écolier illustré:

Type : texte imprimé, périodique

Titre clé : L'Ecolier illustré (Paris)

Titre(s) : [L'Ecolier illustré] [Texte imprimé]

Publication : Paris : Ch. Delagrave, 1890-[ca 1915]

Note(s) :

Même texte que :Saint-Nicolas(Paris)

Titre(s) en liaison :

- Titre en liaison : Saint-Nicolas (Paris). = ISSN 1259-6728

Indice(s) Dewey : 809.892 8205

ISSN 1259-6914

Notice n° : FRBNF34520672


Three individual numbers, 1888-1903

Let’s look at 3 individual numbers:

(1) The 1888 St. Nicolas, dated September 6, consists of 16 pages of good-quality paper plus a paper cover, held together with one stitch of white thread. It measures about 7¼ x 10”. It contains:

an 11 page article,
Cinquante et unième jeudi de St. Nicolas (“Fifty-First Thursday of St. Nicolas”
), in which St. Nicolas speaks with various children about submissions to the magazine’s contests;

3 pages of a serial,
A Traverse le Désert Mexicain (“Crossing the Mexican Desert”)
, with the notation at the end:
Imité du St. Nicolas américain (“adapted from the American St. Nicholas”)
; and

2 pages of puzzles and riddles,
Tirelire aux Devinettes (“Puzzle Box”).

The cover is adapted from one the American magazine used from about 1879 to 1885 and, as noted above, mentions The Century Company in New York.

(2) My 1897 number of L’Écolier illustré, dated March 11, is folded in half inside a paper band or mailing wrapper with the subscriber’s address hand-written on it. The front page measures about 7¼ x 10½”, printed on lower quality paper. But once opened and unfolded, it’s actually seen to be one large uncut signature (28¼” x 21”). Evidently the subscriber was expected to cut it in four pieces and assemble it himself, to result in 16 pages (another indication of the budget nature of the magazine). It contains:

a 1½ page story,
Qui Perd Gagne (“Whoever Loses, Wins”

a 3½ page travelog,

5 pages of a serial by Maurice Champagne,
Les Jeunes Aventuriers (“The Young Adventurers”)

a 2 page story,
L’Homme a L’Ours (“The Man with the Bear”)

a 2 page story,
Les Pensées de Suzette (“Suzette’s Thoughts”)
; and

½ page of
Problèmes et Devinettes (“Questions and Puzzles”
), with ½ page of ads.

The first page bears the magazine’s masthead at the top, and an illustration for the first story. In small print at the bottom of the last page, it says: "Le Gérant: P. Happice.” (Editor: P. Happice).

(3) The 1903 L’Écolier illustré, dated December 17, is a booklet, printed on a lower grade of paper; the signature it was folded from was so carelessly cut that letters are almost missing at the edge of some pages. Originally sewn together with two stitches, it measures about 6¼ x 9¾” (157 x 246 mm). Pages in the annual volumes I’ve seen, on the other hand, are about 6¾ x 10¼”, and bound with reasonable care (though less ornately than St. Nicolas). The 1903 number contains:

3½ pages of a serial,
Monsieur, Madame Pomponnet et leurs enfants (“Mr and Mrs Pomponnet and Their Children”);

a fable, 1½ pages long,
Les roueries d’un Renard (“A Fox’s Tricks

a 3½ page story,
La Ballade du petit Page (“Ballad of the Little Page”
), with a note at the end,
Adaptation du Saint-Nicolas américain

a 3½ page story,
La Vache du Couvent (“The Convent’s Cow”);

a 1 page comic strip,
Les Commérages (“The Gossipers”);

a 1 page story,
Jeannot le Brave (“Jeannot the Brave”)
; and

1 page of puzzles and riddles,
La Tirelire aux Devinettes (“The Puzzle Box”)

The first page bears the magazine’s masthead at the top (more elaborate than the 1897 version), and an illustration for the first serial. In small print at the bottom of the last page, it says: “Le propriétaire-Gérant: CH. DELAGRAVE.” (Owner-Editor: CH. DELAGRAVE).

For complete scans of all three individual numbers, see my data CD.

The new format: serials, serials, and serials!

When we jump ahead to 1909-1915, we find that both French magazines have adopted an entirely different format. Instead of several short pieces per issue, they contain just 4 serials for the entire year (with 1-4 pages of miscellaneous material per week). My correspondent Bernard T. in Nancy, France, pinpoints the time of the change:

D'après ce que j'ai pu observer, l'année 1909 constitue pour l'Ecolier illustré un changement radical dans le genre du périodique. Jusqu'en 1908 inclue, le journal se présentait sous une forme différente: plusieurs morceaux d'histoires différentes dans un numéro, des jeux, des concours etc.... pour un contenu très varié. Alors qu'à partir de 1909, chaque numéro est entièrement consacré à une seule histoire sans rien d'autre.

(“From what I’ve been able to observe, the year 1909 for
L’Ecolier illustré
marks a radical change in the type of publication. Through 1908 inclusive, the magazine presented a different format: several different selections per issue, games, contests, etc. ... for a very varied content. Then starting in 1909, each issue is entirely devoted to a single story with nothing else.”)

This is borne out by bookseller listings (see Appendix D). The new format allowed Delagrave to make multiple use of French authors’ works, publishing the same serial as many as 6 times. After a writer such as Maurice Champagne or Jules Chancel completed a novel, Delagrave could sell it:

1. as a weekly serial in
St. Nicolas

2. as a weekly serial in
L’Écolier illustré

3. in
L’Écolier illustré’
s two semi-annual bound editions
(“Premier semestre”
“Deuxieme semestre”

4. in
L’Écolier illustré
’s annual bound edition (the 1910 volume sold for 4½ or 5½ francs, depending on the binding*);

5. in
St. Nicolas
’s annual bound edition (the 1910 volume sold for 15 francs*);

6. and finally, as a stand-alone novel.

(* These prices were found on several back covers of St. Nicolas for Sept. and Dec. 1910 [see scans]. So far this is the only acknowledgment I’ve seen in either magazine, of the existence of the other.)

This was the case with Maurice Champagne’s four novels:

Les Sondeurs d’Abimes
(serialized 1911, reprinted 1911)

Le Fils du Planteur
(serialized 1912, reprinted 1912)

L’Ile du Solitaire
(serialized 1913, reprinted 1913), and

La Vallée Mystérieuse
(serialized 1914, reprinted 1915)

Comparison of the serialized versions and the stand-alone novels, in the cases above, shows they were obviously printed from the same plates. In fact, on page 56 of the book version of La Vallée Mystérieuse (end of part I, chapter 8) the publisher carelessly let stand the italicized note: “A suivre” (To be continued).

In each annual volume I’ve seen, there are 3 long serials and 1 short serial (the latter coming toward the middle or end of the year). All volumes are self-contained: that is, the first page of the first serial begins on page 1 or 2, and the last serial ends on the last page, page 832.


L’Écolier illustré began publication in January 1890 and ran through December 1915 and, like St. Nicolas, was subtitled “Journal paraissant tous les Jeudis” (magazine appearing every Thursday). I have donated to the Ayn Rand Archives:

Vol. 24, January – December 1913

Vol. 25, January – December 1914 and

Vol. 26, January – December 1915.

As can be surmised from the inferior workmanship and materials of the two individual numbers described earlier, it was evidently intended as a budget version of St. Nicolas. Each issue consisted of 16 pages, without covers. The first page bore the publication’s masthead at the top.

St. Nicolas had front and rear paper covers. (My 1910 issues are ½” taller than the 1888 issue, and are held together with a single staple. A few of the pages are uncut.) There are 16 pages of serials per issue, always beginning with a full-page illustration (so there were actually 15 pages of text). L’Écolier illustré carried the same 15 pages of text, apparently printed from the same plates. In 1909 and 1910 it included the full-page illustration, on its first page (slightly cropped, to fit beneath the masthead); in 1911-1915 it omitted it, substituting an illustrated fable. So it’s likely that Ayn Rand never saw the full-page illustrations for La Vallée Mystérieuse. (The full-page illustrations were included in the novels’ later stand-alone publication.)

St. Nicolas had 4 extra pages per issue. In my 1910 individual numbers, they come before the serial pages; in the1915 bound volumes, they come after them. I’ll refer to these as the “miscellaneous” section. They consisted of puzzles, riddles, letters from readers, and stories (in the latter year, usually on a patriotic theme). The serial pages (of both magazines) are consecutively numbered, beginning with page 1 in the first issue and running through page 832 in the last issue. The miscellaneous pages (of St. Nicolas) are numbered separately, beginning with 1 in the first issue and running through 208 in the year’s last issue. The two inner pages of each miscellaneous section are printed in color.

St. Nicolas sold for 18 francs per year (35 centimes per issue), for most and perhaps all of its run. That same price is given on a colorful 1887 publicity poster I own, and also on the “Abonnements” (subscription) page in the 1915 St. Nicolas. The poster, measuring 12 x 17”, is based on the magazine’s cover design. (A scan is included on the CD.)

In 1897 and 1903 L’Écolier illustré sold for 5 centimes per issue or 4 francs per year. The 1909-1915 issues went for 10 centimes per issue, but still 4 francs per year.

Since St. Nicolas started in December and L’Écolier illustré started in January (but carried the same serials), we can infer that the serials ran first in St. Nicolas, then one month later in L’Écolier illustré. I’ve confirmed that was the case, by comparing the 1910 copies in my collection. And the serials in the Library of Congress’s Dec. 1912 – Nov. 1913 issues of St. Nicolas are the same as in my Jan. – Dec. 1913 L’Écolier illustré.

Most bound volumes I’ve seen of the Delagrave magazines were annual editions issued by the publisher itself, with distinctive red covers. However, the 1914 and 1915 volumes of L’Écolier illustré I’m donating to the Ayn Rand Archives appear to be individual numbers that a subscriber carefully preserved, then had bound by a local print shop. The covers lack the Delagrave designs. And each page was once neatly folded exactly in half horizontally, so we can infer that these issues were mailed (just like my 1897 number of L’Écolier illustré), folded in half inside a paper band or mailing wrapper. Fortunately the pages were carefully printed, with none of the problems that mar my 1903 number (described above).

The Belgian edition

Surprisingly, my correspondent Bernard T. discovered three years (1907-1909) of a (French language) Belgian edition of L’Écolier illustré:

L'éditeur belge est: La Compagnie Anglaise, 5 et 7 (ou 5 et 9), Place de Brouckère à Bruxelles. Il semble qu'il paraissait le dimanche et non le jeudi comme l'édition Delagrave. Je n'ai pas plus de renseignements. J'ai été moi-mème étonné de trouver en vente cette édition dont je n'avais jamais entendu parler et dont j'ai acquis 3 années successives reliées. Mais il faut dire que les illustrés de cette époque ne nous ont pas encore révélé tous leur secrets...

(“The Belgian publisher is: The English Company, 5 and 7 (or 5 and 9) Place de Brouckère in Brussels. It seems that it appeared on Sundays and not on Thursdays like the Delagrave edition. I have no more information. I was astonished, myself, to find this edition I’d never heard of, for sale. I’ve acquired bound volumes for 3 successive years. But we have to say that the illustrated magazines of that epoch have still not revealed all their secrets to us ...”)

In a photo he provided (see CD), underneath “COMPAGNIE ANGLAISE” in the Belgian edition’s masthead it says “LIBRAIRIE CH. DELAGRAVE RUE SOUFFLOT NO 15, PARIS.” We’ve verified that the serials for 1909 are the same as in the French edition.

I might add that there is one more unanswered question about L’Écolier illustré: why do a few photos of editions from 1900, 1907 and 1908 show a blue-and-white cover design for the magazine, while the vast majority of copies were apparently issued without covers?

5 - Detailed contents, 1909-1915

Each year begins with one serial episode per issue (16 pages in St. Nicolas, 15 or 16 pages in L’Écolier illustré). Several months later, when the first serial is finished, they usually begin to run two serials concurrently, 7 or 8 pages each.


Tiarko, Le Chevrier de Napoléon (Tiarko, Napoléon’s Goatherd), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by R. de La Nézière

Tiarko, a young gypsy, is adopted by a French officer and his wife. Eventually the boy is put in charge of the goatcart of Napoléon’s young son; and after the emperor’s downfall is involved in a plot to keep the child out of the hands of the Austrians.

Maitre Juponet, Cambrioleur (Master Juponet, Housebreaker), by Chemilly and Paul Maurelly

illustrated by L. Gambey

On his way home from a costume party M. Juponet, a lawyer dressed as a housebreaker, is accosted by two real criminals who mistake him for a colleague and take him along on a burglary. His troubles deepen when he is arrested, then “sprung” against his will by the two criminals. The truth finally comes out, and M. Juponet emerges from the ordeal only the worse by some gray hairs.

L’Enfant de la Falaise (Child of the Cliff), by Madame Augusta Latouche

illustrated by R. de La Nézière

A lady helps Molé a.k.a. Miette, a poor girl who lives in a cave with her drunkard mother and abusive brother. The girl joins the crew of a fishing vessel, and saves a boat in a storm by tossing a rope to it. She and her benefactor’s family are menaced by a criminal, but she helps save them and herself.

Histoire Véridique d’Onésime Truquard (True History of Onésime Truquard), by Jehan des Riquettes

illustrated by René Giffey

A boy plays with matches, runs away from home, and falls in with thieves; but he takes a turn for the better when he joins the Navy and saves his captain from the Tuaregs. (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)


Le Petit Jockey du Duc de Lauzun (The Little Jockey of the Duke de Lauzun), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by R. de La Nézière

During the reign of Louis XVI a young jockey wins a race, but his horse is later poisoned by a rival. When a nobleman has him imprisoned in the Bastille, the boy witnesses the storming of the fortress and the beginning of the French Revolution.

L’Aventure de Nicolas Corbin (The Adventure of Nicolas Corbin), by Maurice Champagne

illustrated by René Giffey

In 1903 the French servant of an American scientist is accidentally carried off from Chicago on an experimental flying machine, whose motor runs on “liquefied air.” After several days of runaway flight, it runs out of fuel and crashes in the ocean near Greenland. (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)

Les Enfants de La Rochette (Children of La Rochette), by André Valdès

illustrated by R. de La Nézière

A marquis’s family, impoverished, goes to live at a rural chateau, while he seeks his fortune in Argentina and his son René has adventures on shipboard.

L’Enfant de la Mine (Child of the Mine), by Augusta Latouche

illustrated by P. Kauffmann

The daughter of a mining engineer and the daughter of a miner are friends.

The Miscellaneous section includes:

Le Roman de Renard (The Romance of Renard), (reprinted in L’Écolier Illustré 1911 as Aventures de Maitre Renard) illustrated fables of a fox and other animals in 16th century garb (nos. 6-25); and

Lolotte en Liberté (Lolotte at Liberty), (reprinted in L’Écolier Illustré 1912) a little girl goes for a train ride, and has other adventures (nos. 27-52).


Same four serials as in St Nicolas. (The title Le Petit Jockey du Duc de Lauzun is shortened to Le Petit Jockey de Lauzun.)


Le Petit Roi du Masque Noir (Little King of the Black Mask), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

A Parisian boy renounces the criminal society he was raised in, and strives to be honest.

Les Sondeurs d’Abimes (Sounders of the Abyss), by Maurice Champagne

illustrated by René Giffey

European explorers penetrate deep into an abyss in the Himalayas, to encounter cave-dwelling snakes, ourang-utans and elephants. They discover a hidden holy city of Buddhists, before escaping from hostile natives on a raft.

Dans les Montagnes (In the Mountains), adapted from the English by O’Neves

author not named (possibly adapted from the American St. Nicholas)

illustrated by A. Raynolt

Fighting wolves in the Pyrenees. (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)

Les Fils de François Ier (The Sons of Francis I), by Jérome Doucet

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

Historical fiction set in the early 1500s, about sons of the French king held for ransom, and a dwarf jester who is eventually made a count.

Front page features:

Aventures de Maitre Renard (Adventures of Master Renard), illustrated fables with animals in 16th century garb (nos. 1-45);

Histoire sans paroles (Story without Words), a cartoon (no. 46); and

Kamara-Badaboum, Roi des Niam-Niams (Kamara-Badaboum, King of the Niam-Niams), set in an African kingdom (nos. 47-52).


Le Prince Mokoko (Prince Mokoko), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

Mokoko, the young son of a Sudanese king, has adventures in Paris with his foolish French tutor Pardessus, some helpful clowns, and a girl of his tribe, Islé. After losing, then recovering a green diamond, they all go to the Sudan, where Mokoko and Islé become king and queen.

Blanchette: Aventures d’une Fourmi Blanche (Blanchette: Adventures of a White Ant), by E. M. Laumann

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

A queen ant expels young Blanchette and her nurse from the colony, because Blanchette’s skin is white. The two exiles meet a friendly glow-worm, then a South African termite who was carried off from his homeland while feeding on a pineapple. Meanwhile, a crafty counselor overthrows the queen in a coup. The termite leads the queen’s remaining followers into battle, restoring her to the throne. The grateful queen wants to honor Blanchette and her friends; but they choose to resume their simple life in the forest. The unlucky rebels tumble into an ant-lion’s trap. (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)

Jacqueline Sylvestre, by Michel Epuy

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

Jacqueline, a young orphan leading a hard life on the farm of her half-crazed, miserly uncle, is fascinated by a fairy tale of an old king turned to stone, and hopes to free him from his curse. She attributes various mysterious events to fairies, but they are in fact orchestrated behind the scenes by her long-lost brother in disguise.

Le Fils du Planteur (The Planter’s Son), by Maurice Champagne

illustrated by A. Raynolt

Georges de Fenzac, only son of one of the wealthiest planters in Mexico, hears in London that his father may be dying. He journeys with a traveling circus across the Atlantic to Florida, New Orleans, and then Mexico, aided by Totor and Domino, a Frenchman and his Senegalese friend. They are pursued by Georges’ uncle and a criminal, Burgton, who try to kill him for the inheritance, leading to a final battle in a Mexican canyon.

Front page feature:

Lolotte en Liberté (Lolotte at Liberty), a little girl goes for a train ride, and has other adventures (nos. 1-52).

[shoshana Milgram confirms that the same serials are found in her 1912 volume of St. Nicolas.]


Lulu au Maroc (Lulu in Morocco), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by L. Bombled

Lulu, a French boy, is the son of a rich but partially paralyzed confectioner. He is shipwrecked in Morocco and captured by a warlord, but escapes from the bandit’s lofty citadel using a makeshift parachute. (Cf. Ayn Rand’s 1920s scenario about a thief jumping by parachute from skyscrapers [Jeff Britting, Ayn Rand, p. 32]; however, this serial probably came too early in 1913 for the young Ayn Rand to have seen it.)

L’Ile du Solitaire (Hermit Island), by Maurice Champagne

illustrated by René Giffey

Two castaways are menaced by a demented scientific genius on an island in the Indian Ocean, who vows revenge on society using mysterious green rays to explode ships at a distance. The mad scientist, Sam Guidford, is eventually bitten by his own rabid guard dogs, but blows up the island before he dies. The castaways manage to escape on a raft, along with the scientist’s daughter, Edith.

La Petite Maitresse de Maison (The Little Mistress of the House), by Augusta Latouche

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

After her parents experience financial difficulties, Jessie, the eldest girl of an English family, takes over management of the household, directing the servants, caring for her siblings, and maneuvering to get her artist father’s paintings sold.

Hors du Nid (Out of the Nest), by Marie Girardet

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

A boy searches for his missing father in Paris. (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)

Front page feature:

Girofla, ou la “petite-fille de la Mère Michel” (Girofla, or “Mère Michel’s Granddaughter”), an illustrated fairy tale set in the Kingdom of Song (nos. 1-52).


Un Petit Émigrant en Argentine (A Little Emigrant in Argentina), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by Bombled

Raoul, an orphaned French boy emigrating to Argentina, is left on his own when his companion is killed. He is befriended by a sharpshooting lady, Miss Bridge, whom he helps reform and give up robbing banks. Although his winning lottery ticket turns out to be counterfeit, he eventually gains wealth from oil royalties, and becomes a successful commercial artist.

La Prédiction d’Ita-Pa (The Prophecy of Ita-Pa), by Lix Rotis

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

In a fit of drunken rage Pedro, a young man in 1860’s Brazil, unintentionally kills a slave. His father, a wealthy rancher, disowns him and orders him to go out into the world and try to redeem himself. He has to contend with vampire bats and treacherous caves. But it’s prophesized by a native seer that he will be killed by his own brother.

La Vallée Mystérieuse (The Mysterious Valley), by Maurice Champagne

illustrated by René Giffey

Ayn Rand’s hero Cyrus is carried off by a trained tiger, to a hidden valley ruled by evil religious fanatics.

The serial began May 14, the issue with Cyrus in the cage was dated September 3, his defiance of the rajah came on September 17, the picture of him with a sword that Ayn Rand remembered came on October 22, and the serial ended December 3.

L’Aventure de Lisette (Lisette’s Adventure), adapted from L. Tcharskaia by Yves Mary

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

Lisette, a Russian girl in St. Petersburg, hurries through the night to buy medicine for her sick mother. At the pharmacy a stranger notices her, and says she would make a good Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, or Sleeping Beauty. The next day he seeks out her mother, to offer the girl a job in his children’s acting troupe. Though sad to part from her daughter, the mother is now able to enter a hospital. Though falsely accused by the girl she replaced, Lisette wins people’s hearts, and they are eager to help. Finally a kindly doctor invites Lisette’s mother to complete her recuperation in the country; and Lisette and her mother bid their friends a tearful but happy goodbye. (The young Ayn Rand must have been struck by the story’s being set in her own city—as well as the pharmacy setting; but with its sentimental events rather than heroics, this was not the type of story that generally appealed to her.) (This serial is short, only 3 episodes.)

Shoshana Milgram points out that the author’s name (according to the BNF, Lidiia Alekseevna Tcharskaia [Mme. Tcharsky]) is usually transliterated in English-speaking countries as Lidiia Charskaia. She has also identified the Russian original this serial was adapted from:
Lizochkino schast'e (Lizzy's/Liza's Happiness/Good Fortune)

Front page feature:

La Légende des Bêtes (The Legend of the Beasts), also known as Le Ver Adam (The Real Adam), an illustrated fable (nos. 1-52).


Le Petit Comedien au Bresil (A Little Comedian in Brazil), by Jules Chancel

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

The father of a young bank intern is falsely accused of theft. After a series of adventures, his name is cleared and the real culprit is caught. (Interesting sidelight: on page 3, a supervisor catches the boy reciting Cyrano’s ballade from Act I of Rostand’s play, when he should be studying.)

L’Ile du Sabre (Saber Island), by A. Ferguson (translated from the English)

(I have not been able to find A. Ferguson’s full name, or the story’s original title.)

illustrated by René Giffey

A boy on a remote island off New Zealand gets caught up in a vendetta, as the last surviving member of a Sicilian family seeks refuge with him.

(This serial is short, only 6 episodes.)

La Petite Reine de Balkanie (The Little Queen of Balkanie), by Marie Girardet

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

The young orphaned queen of a tiny Balkan kingdom is overthrown in a coup, travels across Europe and becomes a sculptress in Paris. Eventually she marries the son of the man who overthrew her, and regains the throne.

Loup-Blanc (White Wolf), by Norbert Sevestre

illustrated by Bombled

A warlord/bandit in Indochina menaces a boy and girl. There's a full-page illustration of the girl, Simone, shooting a tiger as it springs toward her (page 753); and a passage (pp. 820-821)* in which Simone’s fellow captive, Thi Say, defies the warlord, much as Cyrus defied the rajah. In a daring last-minute rescue, a plane swoops down and saves the captives, as the French Foreign Legion comes to the rescue.

* “Coward!” she cried, in an outburst of indignation and disgust, “You may take my life, you may even torture me, but you can’t stop me from despising you or considering you the most cowardly and vile of villains ... Threats intimidate only the weak; and I’m strong because, however humble my condition, I know I’m worth infinitely more than a monster like you ... I hate you, I despise you; do with me as you will.” [my translation]


The same 4 serials as St. Nicolas

Front page feature:

Mossieu Clown!, illustrated shenanigans about a rich traveler, minstrels, and clowns at a hotel (nos. 1-52).

Letters pages and contests

It’s my belief that the young Ayn Rand read the budget magazine (“L’Ecolier” is masculine, “schoolboy”) and not St. Nicolas. Nevertheless, I’ve examined every one of the 1915 St. Nicolas’s Letters pages (“Boite aux Lettres” or Mailbox) and contest pages (“Jeudi-Salons,” taking the name from the fact that the magazine appeared every Jeudi, Thursday). Children adopted pseudonyms in corresponding with “St. Nicolas,” answering riddles, and submitting art or essays for the contests. (Winners sometimes had their art work published, and received free books.) Though “St. Nicolas” once mentions a subscriber in Italy (page 144) and another in Savoy (after page 200), I have found no mention of a subscriber from Russia.

Delagrave’s books frequently have idiosyncratic variations in the binding, cover design, or contents. Of the three copies of St. Nicolas 1915 I’ve examined, two do not include any of the magazine’s covers, while the third includes no front covers but does have numerous back covers. The outside back covers carry book ads, the inside back covers are continuations of the Letters or puzzle pages. Since it’s the most complete, it’s this third copy that I’ve donated to the ARI Archives (along with bound volumes of L’Écolier illustré for 1913, 1914 and 1915).

The end of the magazines

The Letters pages of the 1915 St. Nicolas make for very poignant reading. The editor, speaking as St. Nicolas, cultivated a warm relationship with his readers (his “Nicolets et Nicolettes”), with frequent expressions of affection; throughout the year, he struggles heroically to comfort and encourage French children experiencing the anxieties and losses of World War I.

Finally, in issue no. 49 (miscellaneous page 196, reproduced on my CD) he makes an announcement, which I translate:



My dear children,

The war that is devastating Europe has already imposed many sacrifices on you. I am about to ask a last one, a sad one indeed, my poor children, because it consists of us saying adieu.

Adieu? No: au revoir ... au revoir until the end of hostilities!

What can one do? Too many of my children, among my most devoted and cherished, have been brutally uprooted by the invasion of my great family; many have been ruined, or—and I don’t know how to praise them highly enough—have devoted their subscription money to charitable or patriotic works.

My most tasteful collaborators—Chancel, Sevestre, Avelot, Jordic, Giffey, and many others—are mobilized, or at the front ...

It is impossible to continue editing and producing
St. Nicolas
under these conditions.

My heart bleeds to part from you, and no longer converse with this sweet family of children who, for 36 years, have given me so many touching signs of confidence and affection.

But we must resign ourselves. Offer your sadness up to God, as I do, and add this sacrifice to the other reasons we have to hope soon for a long peace gained through victory.

Though gone for the present, I will watch over you: and I send all of you the tender though melancholy wishes of your adoptive grandfather, in a long, paternal benediction.


With issue number 52, at the end of November, 1915, St. Nicolas ceased publication; and L’Écolier illustré must have followed one month later (though my 1915 volume bears no announcement relating to this).

Although the firm of Delagrave continued in business through the war (and up to the present day), for some reason they never resumed publication of either magazine.

Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bucko

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Synopses of Maurice Champagne’s works

Note: When two dates are given, the first is for magazine serialization, the second is for book publication.



Two cousins, Georges and Lucien Morgan, are called to the school principal’s office. Three years ago Lucien’s father Charles disappeared off the African coast. Georges’ father Pierre set out to find him. The principal tells Georges that his father’s expedition has been ambushed by natives and wiped out. The boys will be turned over to their miserly uncle, M. Wartenz, along with their money.

But the report was misleading; some of the men were taken prisoner, not killed. The boys go to Africa with their friend Dr. Chavannes. After shooting a lion and other adventures, they find both fathers alive at an oasis in the Sahara. The party struggles across the desert, but runs out of water. Near death, they see a city ahead—Timbuctoo, where Charles had been held prisoner by hostile natives. But above the roofs now floats the French tricolor—the city has been captured, and they reach safety.

Back in France, their uncle Wartenz dies in a fire while trying to save his gold and silver from a burning house.



Two cousins, Sam Mathison and Jack Washt, try to recover the dowry of their cousin Jane, that went down on a ship off the coast of Angola. The dishonest Jack’s confederate Jones Murphy shoots Sam, but the latter is cared for by a repentant convict, Harris Helton. Just as the two culprits find the treasure, a ferocious giant octopus attacks; Jones Murphy is killed, and Jack goes insane with terror. Sam returns to America with the treasure, and marries Jane.

* I don’t believe Champagne ever specifies whether it’s dollars, francs, or pounds. Jane’s father found a fortune in gold while prospecting in Australia.



James Coby’s inheritance of a fortune from an eccentric aunt depends upon possession of a favorite umbrella she gave him, though Ellen Cornemson, the woman he wants to marry, refuses to accept him as long as he continues to carry it. When the aunt dies, Coby’s solicitor Wilfrid Kams takes the umbrella to the aunt’s lawyer but apparently loses it on the train from Boston to New York. They follow a trail of clues that leads halfway around the world, across Africa, but return home without it. The solicitor finds he absent-mindedly put the umbrella in a box of items he shipped to himself.

LES RECLUS DE LA MER (1907, 1925)


Three convicts escape in a boat from the prison colony of New Caledonia, encounter a mysterious light at sea, and descend in a metal tower to an underwater city in a cave. The city’s master, “Captain Nameless,” attempts to rehabilitate the criminals through productive work, but they escape—two, because they are too hardened, the third, Jean Tauvel, because the captain’s daughter Nadèje does not return his love. As one hardened convict stabs the other, his victim pulls him into the water where they’re killed by sharks. Tauvel survives long enough to tell his story, but is regarded as mad.



In 1903 Nicholas Corbin, the French servant of Dr. Wigson, an American scientist, is accidentally carried off from Chicago on an experimental flying machine. The flapping of its wings damages the city’s tallest buildings. After several days of runaway flight its motor runs out of “liquefied air” and it crashes in the ocean near Greenland. The Frenchman and two other passengers are rescued by a passing ship.



On a Tibetan plateau, a team of European explorers—W. Ralph Idain, Dr. Cyrus Gardner,* Capt. Sellous and Paddy his orderly—penetrate deep into an abyss in the Himalayas, in Idain’s bullet-shaped sounding bell. Narrowly escaping death when rebellious tribesmen cut the cable, they encounter cave-dwelling snakes, tigers, an ourang-utan and elephants, to discover a hidden holy city of Buddhists in a cavern far underground. Their native guide Kouti poisons their water, but falls victim to his own trap. They escape from hostile natives on a raft. When the raft overturns their photographs are lost, so they have no proof of their discoveries.

* Three years later, Champagne gave the same first name to the hero of La Vallée Mystérieuse, Cyrus Paltons.

In Les Sondeurs d’Abîmes, Lt. Paderson and Sgt. Biggs (same last name as Cyrus Palton’s orderly) remain above ground; Paderson is killed by natives, and Biggs presumably meets the same fate. (“Wiggs” on p. 2 is apparently a misprint.)

L'ÂME DU DOCTEUR KIPS (1912, 1927)


Dacoits kidnap Nelly, the 5 year old daughter of Colonel Karson, to sacrifice her to Shiva. The colonel sets out for India, but cannot hope to reach her in time. In London, his friend Dr. William Kips awakes a mysterious yogi. The yogi throws Dr. Kips into a trance, transporting his soul to India where it enters the body of Klass Van Speeck, a dying hunter who’s fallen into a trap, and reanimates it.

The remainder of the story is told in Van Speeck’s diary. Possessing only Van Speeck’s memories, but Dr. Kips’ values and courage, he fights heroically to save the girl—stealing into a Hindu temple, building a barricade, fighting off an attack, and escaping with her. In his last diary entry, he tells Nelly to run toward an approaching band of European troops, as he remains behind to delay their pursuers ... Dr. Kips awakes from his trance (at the moment, we are to understand, when Van Speeck perishes). He recalls nothing of what happened in India. But Van Speeck’s diary—the diary, his employer informs them, of a lazy, dishonest good-for-nothing—is written in Dr. Kips’ own handwriting.

Note: this story bears so many similarities to La Vallée Mystérieuse that I’ve prepared an extended synopsis, along with a complete scan of the novel, which may be found on the CD in the folder “1912 Journal des Voyages.”

On the second page, Champagne names several friends who are travelling with Colonel Karson to India: among others, Lieutenant Gardner (perhaps Dr. Cyrus Gardner, from Les Sondeurs d’Abîmes?) and the engineer Doops (similar to the engineer Deaps, in La Vallée Mystérieuse).



During a terrible storm Joël Kovec, the lighthouse keeper at Triagoz, goes mad, attacks his assistant Yves Le Bloas, and dies. Clutched in his hand is a newspaper article telling of the death of his only son, in an explosion on a naval vessel.

Yves, deeply disturbed and unable to sleep, keeps the light burning for three nights, then collapses from exhaustion. As the light burns low, his fear of the corpse keeps him from descending to the supply room. Hearing cannon shots from a ship in distress, he finally forces himself to fetch more oil. When the storm is over Yves is found unconscious; but the light is still burning.



In London a criminal, Burgton, tries to induce Totor, a penniless Frenchman, to murder Georges de Fenzac, only son of one of the wealthiest planters in Mexico; but Totor helps Georges escape. Georges hears that his father may be dying. He journeys with a traveling circus across the Atlantic to Florida, New Orleans, and then Mexico, aided by Totor and his Senegalese friend Domino. They are pursued by Georges’ uncle and Burgton, who try to kill him for the inheritance, leading to a final battle in a Mexican canyon. Men from his father’s ranch arrive in the nick of time, to turn the tide in Georges’ favor.



René de Nansac and James Harris Wood, washed overboard in the Indian Ocean, find themselves on an island ruled by a demented scientific genius, Sam Guidford, driven mad by lack of recognition. He can shoot out mysterious green rays, to explode ships at a distance; he’s also built a submarine. His innocent daughter Edith and a vicious confederate, Tommy Hab, are with him on the island, as well as another castaway, Gregory Fogg. Nansac falls in love with Edith, but is trapped by the mad scientist in a gallery that slowly fills with sand, to suffocate him. After his rescue, there are further adventures; the genius is finally bitten by one of his own rabid guard dogs, but blows up the island in a final act of malice. The castaways and Edith manage to escape on a raft.

Note: To my mind, the fact that the villain is totally insane detracts greatly from any moral conflict.



Ayn Rand’s hero Cyrus is carried off by a trained tiger, to a hidden valley ruled by evil religious fanatics. With the help of Frenchman Théodore Bardin he and his comrades escape, rescuing a captive woman in the process.



An orphaned boy, Jean Pacifique, is raised by his brutal, abusive uncle Mathias Brignon, who refuses to let him go to school until a kindly doctor and abbé intervene. When the uncle is knocked unconscious on his sloop the “Hirondelle” during a storm, Jean refuses to leave him alone in the raging sea and, after a difficult struggle, brings the ship to shore. He eventually becomes a naval officer and marries his childhood friend, Suzette.

Note: Jean Pacifique bears a dedication to the author’s granddaughter [see scan].



A Frenchman travelling in Chile falls in with a band of thieves who tie him up and rob him, in a hut in the Andes. The hut is situated on a plug of rock that suddenly comes dislodged and starts to sink down an ancient volcanic shaft, carrying them all with it. The Frenchman helps them find their way back to the surface. The robbers repent, and restore what they stole.



Hearing that thieves plan to kidnap millionaire American banker Archibald Morster and his daughter Ellen on the train from Montreal to Vancouver, reporter Harris Greer goes along, hoping for a big story. But he falls into a trap, and is nearly burned alive. The bandits carry off their victims to a remote fortress in the Rockies. But they fail to search Ellen’s companion, Yvonne Maurec. A resolute young woman, she pulls out the revolver Harris Greer loaned her and shoots the bandit chief in the neck. Then, aided by the servant of Ellen’s fiancé (who has infiltrated the gang), she holds off the rest of the outlaws until help arrives.

Note: Yvonne Maurec is undoubtedly the strongest Maurice Champagne heroine I’ve come across. Unfortunately, the story centers so much around Harris Greer that she is on stage very little. On the last page, the two of them get married.



A mysterious letter in a bottle, found in the south Pacific, is delivered to Dr. Pâques, inventor of a tank-like underwater auto. The letter purports to be from a Dr. Kawamura, trapped far below the surface when an underwater explosion made an island sink. An engineer, Aubierne, informs Dr. Pâques that the island, on which he too once lived [in Le Refuge Mystérieux], is an artificial one, created by the ingenious Dr. Tukaram Singh for scientific research. Dr. Pâques leads an expedition to the island of Konnta, where they save Dr. Kawamura from hostile natives.

Kawamura relates that a volcanic eruption damaged the floating island, whereupon four newcomers took advantage of the situation to murder Tukaram Singh. The island is now trapped in a cavern underneath Konnta. Dr. Pâques’ auto travels to the cavern, where it has a narrow escape from a giant plesiosaurus. After steering the island out of the cavern and back to sea, Dr. Kawamura and his friend Dr. Soudraka torpedo the warship of a foreign government that tried to seize the invention, then avenge their beloved Tukaram Singh by sinking the island with his murderers aboard.



In the Canadian northwest, prospector Joel Kaimps shoots his two partners, to have the claim all for himself. One of the partners, Jean de Paizan, tumbles over a cliff and into a stream. He is rescued and cared for by a trapper, James Jeffry, and his teenaged daughter Mary. Years ago Mary befriended an orphaned grizzly cub; the bear, Bad-Boy, now full-grown, is devoted to her and obeys her commands. They are menaced by Joel Kaimps and another bandit, Dan. Dan stabs Joel Kaimps, then attacks Mary. The girl calls, “Bad-Boy! Kill!” The grizzly appears, crushes Dan and rips him apart. Mary and Jean travel to France to get married, but arrange to have a big honeycomb set outside the cabin every week for Bad-Boy.



In the Australian desert Peters Gowe and Tom Wigs, two killers posing as policemen, fall into a hidden cavern, landing in the camp of three French fossil hunters, Dr. Paroulet and his nephews André and Jacques. Finding the way to the surface blocked, they all descend to a subterranean sea where they are menaced by pterodactyls, but saved by an advanced race of people, refugees from Noah’s flood[!] who hunt dinosaurs with ray guns, from aircraft powered by radium. The killers kidnap a girl, Ada, and force her brother Azaël to return them to the cavern they started from. But the “first men” turn the tables on them, return the three fossil hunters to the surface, then blow up the entrance to the cavern, killing the criminals in the process.



The motor of a small plane flying over the Himalayas suddenly dies. Instead of falling, the plane rises, in the grip of some mysterious force, then is brought down on a high plateau, home of a hidden kingdom that somehow enjoys a tropical climate. The four European prisoners—Dr. Farg, Lt. Heigh, explorer Richard Ferriel, and pilot Dan Sullivan—are caught in a power struggle between devious Dr. Satiambo Chang and the country’s ruler, Chang Fou Song, but are freed when they shoot Dr. Chang and save the life of the ruler’s child.

Note: There are similarities to James Hilton’s Lost Horizon with its hidden Shangri-La; but Hilton’s novel was published after Champagne’s, in 1933.



London reporter Robert Benson, looking for a big story, spies on Fred Colvin and Arban Scott as they test an experimental diving bell, the “Sweep-Net,” built by the latter’s uncle, Abraham Scott. The inventor wanted his discovery used for scientific and humanitarian projects; but his nephew, interested only in salvaging sunken treasure, got his uncle out of the way—his supposed suicide was really a murder. The two scoundrels capture Benson and attempt to poison him, but he escapes.

The reporter stows away on their yacht as it sails across the Atlantic, and descends with them to the wreck of the Titanic. Scott drowns his accomplice Colvin, then an enormous octopus lurking in the vessel’s hull seizes them both. Benson and two crew members, Tom Wall and John Weg, reach the surface; a passing ocean liner smashes the “Sweep-Net,” but Benson and his friends are rescued by a fishing boat—with enough proof of his sensational story to become famous as an ace reporter.

Note: Robert Benson also appears in L’Île Engloutie.



In a fog, a large yacht crushes the boat of two fishermen, Marie Gaël and Etienne Lauprat, accompanied by a reporter, Michel Hérard. They manage to climb aboard, but find the yacht apparently deserted. Mysterious events—a ringing bell, cries in the night, gunshots, a mysterious note, a kidnapping—frighten the superstitious sailors, but are explained by the presence of a madman hidden aboard, Eric Haved, with his helpless sister Emma and her wounded husband. The fishermen manage to get everyone off the yacht before it sinks; and the madman eventually recovers.



A reporter, Célestin Bréval, investigates the strange story of a diver, Joël Guerec, who reported seeing a man—unprotected by any diving gear—shouting soundlessly and gesticulating, 40 meters beneath the sea. He finds that an old man, Yves Penbague, believing the Count de Pengoël responsible for the death of his son Yan, imprisoned the count’s son Roger in a scientist’s glass-walled undersea observation chamber, intending to slowly asphyxiate him. When the count shows Yves proof of his innocence, the man tearfully frees his prisoner and begs forgiveness.



In the wilderness of northern Quebec, a logger digs a deep pit on the trail to his cabin and covers it with branches, to trap an enemy, Clifton. Someone does fall in, in a blizzard. But to his horror he finds not his enemy, but a dogsled carrying two teenagers and an Indian. All are still alive. He takes them to his cabin. Guided by the Indian, Crafty, the teens, Patrice and his sister Claudette, are following Sgt. Clifton of the Mounties in pursuit of Joseph Paris, the man believed to have killed their father.

The logger tells them that sometimes appearances may be heavily against a man, but he may still be innocent. When Sgt. Clifton arrives, it’s revealed that the logger is really Joseph Paris in disguise. He explains how he was framed by the real murderer, the teens’ cousin, Harry Breige. Attempting to flee across a log jam, Breige falls into the river and drowns. Paris and Claudette eventually get married.



In northern Quebec, Sgt. Blighton of the Mounties investigates the mysterious murder of an Indian, Lucky, shot while gambling in the Great Wild Bar. Also searching for clues is M. Sclater, French author of pulp fiction adventures.* Although circumstantial evidence makes a young woman, Denise, the prime suspect, it turns out the murder was committed by the brothers of Lucky’s abandoned wife. When the dying wife confesses, the brothers flee so hastily that, insufficiently protected from the weather, they freeze to death. M. Sclater and Denise eventually get married.

* Perhaps a self-portrait by Maurice Champagne?



Roger de Ploujean sails his yacht in search of adventure, trying to forget the woman who jilted him. Off the coast of California he finds a small boat with two dead Indians, each tattooed with a red sun. In San Francisco he meets brother and sister Jimmy and Nelly who, like the Indians, are secretly among the last survivors of a hidden Inca city in a remote canyon of Colorado. Roger also meets Lydia, the evil enchantress who betrayed him. She is now married to Bortcha, presumably a Russian count but actually leader of a powerful criminal gang.

At the Grand Canyon, Bortcha forces Jimmy and Nelly to lead them through a secret passage to the hidden Inca city. In the treasure chamber, Jimmy casts Bortcha into a pit; Lydia refuses the love-struck Jimmy’s pleas to reform, and deals him a mortal stab wound. As Jimmy is about to prick her with his poisoned ring, Lydia dies of fright.

Nelly and Roger supervise the carrying off of the treasure; then Nelly blows up the last city of the Children of the Sun.

Plot summaries Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bucko

Note: There's no evidence that Ayn Rand read any of Champagne's works other than "LA VALLÉE MYSTÉRIEUSE" -- though she may have seen "L’ÎLE DU SOLITAIRE."

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