Front covers of first editions of some of the books in the series.

The Railway Series is a series of British children's books written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and later by his son, Christopher. The best known character in the series is Thomas the Tank Engine. The books were later adapted into a children's television series called, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, later renamed Thomas & Friends.


The Railway Series has origins that go back as far as when Wilbert Awdry was a child. On the Great Western Railway, he would listen to nearby steam engines struggling up a steep hill and imagined the sounds they were making as conversations.

During World War II in 1943, Awdry's 3-year-old son was sick with measles. Wilbert decided to cheer him up by telling stories of talking engines named Edward, Gordon and Henry. Christopher wanted the stories to be told consistently each time they were told, so Wilbert wrote them down. He was initially not interested in getting his stories published his stories until his family persuaded him into it. The Three Railway Engines, the first book in the series, was published in 1945.


A map of the Isle of Sodor, the fictional setting of the stories.

After that, Awdry would write a new title nearly every year. Six different illustrators have worked on the series, William Middleton, Reginald Payne, C. Reginald Dalby, John T. Kenney and Gunvor and Peter Edwards. Railwaymen praised the books for their realism and read them to their children or grandchildren. Most of the stories were based on real events that took place on real railways.

Awdry retired from writing in 1972 and his son, Christopher would continue the series, starting with Really Useful Engines in 1983, in which the title was inspired by a story he was told by an engineman from the Nene Valley Railway. Kaye & Ward, eager to release new material to coincide with the upcoming television series, accepted the new book. Christopher put out new stores consistently until the late 1990s with Clive Spong as the illustrator.

Despite the television series' popularity, Christopher did not write any new titles during the early 2000s. However, in 2007, he was finally able to get Thomas and Victoria published. Four years later, in 2011, he published Thomas and his Friends to coincide with his father's one-hundredth birthday. Unlike any of the other books in the series, Thomas and his Friends had "The End" written at the end. Alf Fortnam, widower of the late Hilary Fortnam, has said that the premiere of Tale of the Brave in 2014 that Christopher had finished writing the series.


Written by Wilbert Awdry

A Day Out with Thomas 2015 in Uxbridge, ON (20709085270)

A full-sized depiction of Thomas the Tank Engine in Ontario, Canada in 2015.

AVR Thomas 7

A full-sized depiction of Toby the Tramway Engine in Bilton, South Gloucestershire, England in 2007.

JNR C11 227 20140824 001

A full-sized depiction of Thomas the Tank Engine on the Oigawa Railway in Japan in 2014.

  1. The Three Railway Engines
  2. Thomas the Tank Engine
  3. James the Red Engine
  4. Tank Engine Thomas Again
  5. Troublesome Engines
  6. Henry the Green Engine
  7. Toby the Tram Engine
  8. Gordon the Big Engine
  9. Edward the Blue Engine
  10. Four Little Engines
  11. Percy the Small Engine
  12. The Eight Famous Engines
  13. Duck and the Diesel Engine
  14. The Little Old Engine
  15. The Twin Engines
  16. Branch Line Engines
  17. Gallant Old Engine
  18. Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine
  19. Mountain Engines
  20. Very Old Engines
  21. Main Line Engines
  22. Small Railway Engines
  23. Enterprising Engines
  24. Oliver the Western Engine
  25. Duke the Lost Engine
  26. Tramway Engines

Written by Christopher Awdry

Thomas and Daisy

Full-sized depictions of Thomas the Tank Engine and Daisy Mavis the Diesel Engine in Butterley Derbyshire, England in 2009,

  1. Really Useful Engines
  2. James and the Diesel Engines
  3. Great Little Engines
  4. More About Thomas the Tank Engine
  5. Gordon the High-Speed Engine
  6. Toby, Trucks and Trouble
  7. Thomas and the Twins
  8. Jock the New Engine
  9. Thomas and the Great Railway Show
  10. Thomas Comes Home
  11. Henry and the Express
  12. Wilbert the Forest Engine
  13. Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines
  14. New Little Engine
  15. Thomas and Victoria
  16. Thomas and his Friends

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