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Welcome to the Thomas and Friends: The Railway Series WikiaEdit

The Railway Series is a set of story books about a railway system located on the fictional Island of Sodor. There are 42 books in the series, the first being published in 1945. Twenty-six were written by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, up to 1972. A further 16 were written by his son, Christopher Awdry; 14 between 1983 and 1996, and two more in 2007 and 2011.

Nearly all of The Railway Series stories were based upon real-life events. As a lifelong railway enthusiast, Awdry was keen that his stories should be as realistic as possible. The engine characters were almost all based upon real classes of locomotive, and some of the railways themselves were directly based upon real lines in the British Isles.

Characters and stories from the books formed the basis of the children's television series Thomas and Friends.

Audio adaptations of the Railway Series have been recorded at various times under the title The Railway Stories.

HistoryEdit

The origins of the Railway Series can be traced back to Wilbert Awdry's childhood, listening to nearby steam engines struggle up the steep grade on the Great Western Railway. He noticed they made sounds that made it seem as if they were having conversations. To Awdry, it was as if each engine had it's own personality.

In 1943, during the height of the Second World War, Awdry's young son Christopher was ill with the measles. To entertain his bed-ridden child, Wilbert told stories of talking engines named Edward, Gordon, and Henry. Christopher demanded consistency among each retelling of the stories, so Wilbert wrote them down. It wasn't until Awdry was heavily persuaded by his family that he sent in his stories to be published, and in 1945, The Three Railway Engines was published.

Between 1948 and 1972, Awdry wrote a new title every year. The series went through 5 different illustrators, William Middleton, Reginald Payne, C. Reginald Dalby, John T. Kenney, and Gunvor and Peter Edwards. Awdry received letters from railwaymen who would read the stories to their children or grandchildren. They praised his realism. Almost all of the stories in the RWS were based on a real event that happened to some engine, somewhere, at some time.

Although Awdry "retired" in 1972, annuals were published. In 1983, Christopher Awdry, who had written articles for railway magazines, decided to carry on the torch. After being inspired by a story told by an engineman on the Nene Valley Railway, he penned Really Useful Engines. Eager to put out new material to coincide with the upcoming television adaptation, publishers Kaye and Ward accepted the new book. Christopher consistently put out new Railway Series titles until the late 1990s.

During the early 2000s Christopher was not asked to write any new titles despite the popularity of the TV series. It wasn't until 2007 that he was finally able to get a new title published. Four years later, to honour what would be his father's one-hundredth birthday, he published Thomas and his Friends. This was the first book in the entire series to have "The End" written after the books conclusion. At the 2014 Tale of the Brave premiere in Leicester Square, London, Alf Fortnam, widower of the lateHilary Fortnam, said Christopher Awdry was finished with the series.

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