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The Doctor Who Discovers series was a series of educational children's novels starring the Fourth Doctor, written by Fred Newman and illustrated by Jeff Cummins.

Publication history[]

In 1976, Target Books published The Doctor Who Dinosaur Book. It was Target's first foray into educational Doctor Who books with a narrative framing device, and established the format followed by the subsequent Doctor Who Discovers series: each book featured the Fourth Doctor relating historical and scientific information to the reader as he explored the subject in the TARDIS. Following the success of the Dinosaur Book, Target decided to expand the idea into a full range, giving rise to the Discovers series. (REF: DWM 576)

The series had its original run between 1977 and 1978, taking the form of large-format stapled paperbacks. Each of the books included a pull-out poster stapled to the centre, depicting the cover artwork by Jeff Cummins. Priced at 75p, the books each had a print run of 40,000 copies, apart from the final instalment which had a reduced print run of 10,140 copies.

The series was intended to run to 24 titles, but only five titles were released in the series, with Doctor Who Discovers The Miners, Doctor Who Discovers Inventors and Doctor Who Meets The Pirates due next for publication before the range was cancelled due to poor sales. Three drafts of Doctor Who Meets The Pirates had already been written. In 2019, Fred Newman's wife, having become the custodian of his papers, allowed Doctor Who Magazine access to the drafts, as well as "Target's original paste-up layouts for what would have been Fred's book". Jeff Cummins was contacted and agreed to create an original cover, finally allowing Doctor Who Magazine to publish the novel under the name of Doctor Who Discovers Pirates on 31 March 2022 as a bonus to DWM 576.


# Title Author Featuring Released Publisher
1 Doctor Who Discovers Early Man Fred Newman Fourth Doctor 17 November 1977 Target Books
2 Doctor Who Discovers Prehistoric Animals Fourth Doctor
3 Doctor Who Discovers Space Travel Fourth Doctor, Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, Wernher von Braun, Edward White, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins
4 Doctor Who Discovers The Conquerors Fourth Doctor, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Bucephalus, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Richard I of England, Saladin, Napoléon Bonaparte, Duke of Wellington 16 February 1978
5 Doctor Who Discovers Strange and Mysterious Creaturs King Kong, Dracula, Amduscias, Loch Ness Monster 20 April 1978
6 Doctor Who Discovers Pirates Fourth Doctor, Julius Caesar, Henry Morgan 31 March 2022 Panini Comics


  • In the audio story The Kingmaker, Doctor Who Discovers was a series of books actually written by the Fourth Doctor during his time working with UNIT. As in the real world, only five books were published, despite more being planned. The cover art for the audio release depicts Doctor Who Discovers using the same cover-art format (and Doctor Who logo) as the real-life books, only it shows a fictional volume entitled Historical Mysteries. In some of the novels in the real-world series, the Doctor actually mentioned that he intended to write some books based on what he learned in his historical travels.

Cover gallery[]