The original UK edition of Story Teller was published by Marshall Cavendish between 1982 and 1985. It was also sold in other countries including Ireland, South Africa and Malaysia. The following article is based on the Wikipedia page with additions of my own.
The original collection
The original Story Teller was released from December 1982 and throughout 1983 as a fortnightly partwork. Each magazine contained a selection of children’s stories, some traditional folk tales like Anansi the Spiderman, some classic children’s tales such as Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, and some contemporary works written especially for the series, like Timbertwig. Most issues contained a poem as well.
The stories were accompanied by lavish colour artwork, and inside each issue was a leaflet with an offer to purchase custom made binders for the magazine as well as cases to hold the tapes. Each issue of Story Teller came with a cover-mounted cassette tape containing a reading of the stories, complete with music and sound effects. What set Story Teller apart from other partworks was that the stories were read by professional actors and celebrities of the time, including Richard Briers, Sheila Hancock, Derek Jacobi, and Nigel Lambert.
Two distinguishing features of the audio cassettes were the Story Teller jingle that introduced and ended each tape and the characteristic “ping!” that sounded when the time came to turn the pages to encourage children to read along. The Story Teller jingle is an existing track called Children’s Carnival by Ted Atking and Alain Feanch.
Longer stories were split over multiple issues to encourage parents to buy the next issue. These were referred to as Story Teller Serials. As one serial came to end, another would start. Many of these would be simple two-part stories such as Gulliver’s Travels, but a selection of stories (usually classics such as Peter Pan and the The Wizard of Oz) were spread over several issues. Pinocchio was the longest serial, with seven installments.
The original collection was 26 issues long with each tape lasting up to 45 minutes. An exception was issue 26, which was 90 minutes long because it also contained the special preview issue for Story Teller 2, which immediately followed the original series.
Story Teller 2, which was previewed in issue 26 of the original Story Teller series in the UK, continued the tradition of the original by combining traditional, classic, and contemporary children’s stories. Twenty-six issues were published. Popular characters returned for new adventures including Gobbolino and Grogre the Ogre but, surprisingly, not Timbertwig.
Like its predecessor, Story Teller 2 featured stories from different genres in each issue, but the story categories used the original series were dropped (such as Tales of Today, Rhymes and Verses and Cartoon Heroes). The poems always appeared on the inside back cover of each issue, whereas in the original series they did not have a permanent slot. There were two exceptions: part 13 and part 26 did not contain any poems. Instead, the pages normally reserved for the poems contained a preview of volume two of Story Teller 2 and an alphabetical listing of the stories respectively.
Little Story Teller
When Story Teller 2 ended, Marshall Cavendish followed it up with another 26-part series, Little Story Teller, which, as its title suggests, was aimed at a younger audience than the original series. Many of the stories in Little Story Teller featured the adventures of the inhabitants of the Magic Mountain, which included Leroy the Lion, Dotty the Dragon, and Morris and Doris the hamsters. Many of the fairy tales from Story Teller 1 and 2 were retold for a younger audience and given new illustrations. Unique to this series, there were activity pages, songs and nursery rhymes.
Three Christmas specials were also published. Released annually along with each series, the Christmas Story Tellers featured festive stories and even songs. The third Christmas Story Teller included stories suited to both the original series and Little Story Teller. Of the Christmas specials only Christmas Story 2 was made available in New Zealand or Australia, under the title of Christmas Story Time.
Story Teller Song Book
Christmas Story 3 was widely assumed to be the last title from the Story Teller series but in 1986, Marshall Cavendish released the Story Teller Song Book. The 52-page publication contained 20 all-time sing-along favourites rather than stories but it still retained the Story Teller tradition of featuring colouring and activity pages as well as an accompanying cassette tape.
My Big Book of Fairy Tales
In 1987, Marshall Cavendish revisited the world of Story Teller by publishing a big hardback book called My Big Book of Fairy Tales. Although the publication lacked the Story Teller branding, it was essentially a compilation of the best stories from Story Teller; it contained 73 stories from the two series and three Christmas issues. The original text and illustrations were used, except for the story “The Frog Prince”, which featured new artwork (for no apparent reason). The book was rereleased in 1989 with a different cover and again in 1994. Unlike the partwork, My Big Book of Fairy Tales was not accompanied by a cassette.
The partwork is now regarded as highly collectable, and issues can still be found today in secondhand and charity shops, but finding a complete set can be very difficult. Digital copies can also be found on auction sites such as eBay, but these are of dubious legality