Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton.jpg
BornEnid Mary Blyton
(1897-08-11)11 August 1897
East Dulwich, London, United Kingdom
Died28 November 1968(1968-11-28) (aged 71)
Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Resting placeGolders Green Crematorium
Pen nameMary Pollock
  • Novelist
  • poet
  • teacher
  • short story writer
GenreChildren's literature:
Notable works


Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968) was an English children's writer whose books have been among the world's best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blyton's books are still enormously popular, and have been translated into 90 languages; her first book, Child Whispers, a 24-page collection of poems, was published in 1922. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery, and biblical narratives and is best remembered today for her Noddy, Famous Five and Secret Seven series.

Following the commercial success of her early novels such as Adventures of the Wishing-Chair (1937) and The Enchanted Wood (1939), Blyton went on to build a literary empire, sometimes producing fifty books a year in addition to her prolific magazine and newspaper contributions. Her writing was unplanned and sprang largely from her unconscious mind: she typed her stories as events unfolded before her. The sheer volume of her work and the speed with which it was produced led to rumours that Blyton employed an army of ghost writers, a charge she vigorously denied.

Blyton's work became increasingly controversial among literary critics, teachers and parents from the 1950s onwards, because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books, particularly the Noddy series. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Her books have been criticised as being elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain, but they have continued to be best-sellers since her death in 1968.

Blyton felt she had a responsibility to provide her readers with a strong moral framework, so she encouraged them to support worthy causes. In particular, through the clubs she set up or supported, she encouraged and organised them to raise funds for animal and paediatric charities. The story of Blyton's life was dramatised in a BBC film entitled Enid, featuring Helena Bonham Carter in the title role and first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Four in 2009. There have also been several adaptations of her books for stage, screen and television.

Early life and education

Enid Blyton was born on 11 August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London, the oldest of the three children, to Thomas Carey Blyton (1870–1920), a cutlery salesman, and his wife Theresa Mary (née Harrison; 1874–1950). Enid's younger brothers, Hanly (1899–1983) and Carey (1902–1976), were born after the family had moved to a semi-detached villa in Beckenham, then a village in Kent.[1] A few months after her birth Enid almost died from whooping cough, but was nursed back to health by her father, whom she adored.[2] Thomas Blyton ignited Enid's interest in nature; in her autobiography she wrote that he "loved flowers and birds and wild animals, and knew more about them than anyone I had ever met".[3] He also passed on his interest in gardening, art, music, literature and the theatre, and the pair often went on nature walks, much to the disapproval of Enid's mother, who showed little interest in her daughter's pursuits.[4] Enid was devastated when he left the family shortly after her thirteenth birthday to live with another woman. Enid and her mother did not have a good relationship, and she did not attend either of her parents' funerals.[5]

From 1907 to 1915 Blyton attended St Christopher's School in Beckenham, where she enjoyed physical activities and became school tennis champion and captain of lacrosse.[6] She was not so keen on all the academic subjects but excelled in writing, and in 1911 she entered Arthur Mee's children's poetry competition. Mee offered to print her verses, encouraging her to produce more.[1] Blyton's mother considered her efforts at writing to be a "waste of time and money", but she was encouraged to persevere by Mabel Attenborough, the aunt of school friend Mary Potter.[4]

Seckford Hall in Woodbridge, Suffolk, was an inspiration to Blyton with its haunted room, secret passageway and sprawling gardens.

Blyton's father taught her to play the piano, which she mastered well enough for him to believe that she might follow in his sister's footsteps and become a professional musician.[6] Blyton considered enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music, but decided she was better suited to becoming a writer.[7] After finishing school in 1915 as head girl, she moved out of the family home to live with her friend Mary Attenborough, before going to stay with George and Emily Hunt at Seckford Hall near Woodbridge in Suffolk. Seckford Hall, with its allegedly haunted room and secret passageway provided inspiration for her later writing.[1] At Woodbridge Congregational Church Blyton met Ida Hunt, who taught at Ipswich High School, and suggested that she train as a teacher.[8] Blyton was introduced to the children at the nursery school, and recognising her natural affinity with them she enrolled in a National Froebel Union teacher training course at the school in September 1916.[7][9] By this time she had almost ceased contact with her family.[1]

Blyton's manuscripts had been rejected by publishers on many occasions, which only made her more determined to succeed: "it is partly the struggle that helps you so much, that gives you determination, character, self-reliance – all things that help in any profession or trade, and most certainly in writing". In March 1916 her first poems were published in Nash's Magazine.[10] She completed her teacher training course in December 1918, and the following month obtained a teaching appointment at Bickley Park School, a small independent establishment for boys in Bickley, Kent. Two months later Blyton received a teaching certificate with distinctions in zoology and principles of education, 1st class in botany, geography, practice and history of education, child hygiene and class teaching and 2nd class in literature and elementary mathematics.[1] In 1920 she moved to Southernhay in Hook Road Surbiton as nursery governess to the four sons of architect Horace Thompson and his wife Gertrude,[7] with whom Blyton spent four happy years. Owing to a shortage of schools in the area her charges were soon joined by the children of neighbours, and a small school developed at the house.[11]

Early writing career

In 1920 Blyton relocated to Chessington, and began writing in her spare time. The following year she won the Saturday Westminster Review writing competition with her essay "On the Popular Fallacy that to the Pure All Things are Pure".[12] Publications such as The Londoner, Home Weekly and The Bystander began to show an interest in her short stories and poems.[1]

Blyton's first book, Child Whispers, a 24-page collection of poems, was published in 1922.[12] It was illustrated by a schoolfriend, Phyllis Chase, who collaborated on several of her early works.[13] Also in that year Blyton began writing in annuals for Cassell and George Newnes, and her first piece of writing, "Peronel and his Pot of Glue", was accepted for publication in Teachers' World. Her success was boosted in 1923 when her poems were published alongside those of Rudyard Kipling, Walter de la Mare and G. K. Chesterton in a special issue of Teachers' World. Blyton's educational texts were quite influential in the 1920s and '30s, her most sizeable being the three-volume The Teacher's Treasury (1926), the six-volume Modern Teaching (1928), the ten-volume Pictorial Knowledge (1930), and the four-volume Modern Teaching in the Infant School (1932).[14]

In July 1923 Blyton published Real Fairies, a collection of thirty-three poems written especially for the book with the exception of "Pretending", which had appeared earlier in Punch magazine.[15] The following year she published The Enid Blyton Book of Fairies, illustrated by Horace J. Knowles,[16] and in 1926 the Book of Brownies.[17] Several books of plays appeared in 1927, including A Book of Little Plays and The Play's the Thing with the illustrator Alfred Bestall.[18]

In the 1930s Blyton developed an interest in writing stories related to various myths, including those of ancient Greece and Rome; The Knights of the Round Table, Tales of Ancient Greece and Tales of Robin Hood were published in 1930. In Tales of Ancient Greece Blyton retold sixteen well-known ancient Greek myths, but used the Latin rather than the Greek names of deities and invented conversations between the characters.[19] The Adventures of Odysseus, Tales of the Ancient Greeks and Persians and Tales of the Romans followed in 1934.[20]

Commercial success

New series: 1934–1948

The first of twenty-eight books in Blyton's Old Thatch series, The Talking Teapot and Other Tales, was published in 1934, the same year as Brer Rabbit Retold;[21] (note that Brer Rabbit originally featured in Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris), her first serial story and first full-length book, Adventures of the Wishing-Chair, followed in 1937. The Enchanted Wood, the first book in the Faraway Tree series, published in 1939, is about a magic tree inspired by the Norse mythology that had fascinated Blyton as a child.[7] According to Blyton's daughter Gillian the inspiration for the magic tree came from "thinking up a story one day and suddenly she was walking in the enchanted wood and found the tree. In her imagination she climbed up through the branches and met Moon-Face, Silky, the Saucepan Man and the rest of the characters. She had all she needed."[22] As in the Wishing-Chair series, these fantasy books typically involve children being transported into a magical world in which they meet fairies, goblins, elves, pixies and other mythological creatures.

Blyton's first full-length adventure novel, The Secret Island, was published in 1938, featuring the characters of Jack, Mike, Peggy and Nora.[23] Described by The Glasgow Herald as a "Robinson Crusoe-style adventure on an island in an English lake", The Secret Island was a lifelong favourite of Gillian's and spawned the Secret series.[22] The following year Blyton released her first book in the Circus series[24] and her initial book in the Amelia Jane series, Naughty Amelia Jane![25] According to Gillian the main character was based on a large handmade doll given to her by her mother on her third birthday.[22]

During the 1940s Blyton became a prolific author, her success enhanced by her "marketing, publicity and branding that was far ahead of its time".[26] In 1940 Blyton published two books – Three Boys and a Circus and Children of Kidillin – under the pseudonym of Mary Pollock (middle name plus first married name),[27] in addition to the eleven published under her own name that year. So popular were Pollock's books that one reviewer was prompted to observe that "Enid Blyton had better look to her laurels".[28] But Blyton's readers were not so easily deceived and many complained about the subterfuge to her and her publisher,[28] with the result that all six books published under the name of Mary Pollock – two in 1940 and four in 1943 – were reissued under Blyton's name.[29] Later in 1940 Blyton published the first of her boarding school story books and the first novel in the Naughtiest Girl series, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, which followed the exploits of the mischievous schoolgirl Elizabeth Allen at the fictional Whyteleafe School. The first of her six novels in the St. Clare's series, The Twins at St. Clare's, appeared the following year, featuring the twin sisters Patricia and Isabel O'Sullivan.[14]

In 1942 Blyton released the first book in the Mary Mouse series, Mary Mouse and the Dolls' House, about a mouse exiled from her mousehole who becomes a maid at a dolls' house. Twenty-three books in the series were produced between 1942 and 1964; 10,000 copies were sold in 1942 alone.[30] The same year, Blyton published the first novel in the Famous Five series, Five on a Treasure Island, with illustrations by Eileen Soper. Its popularity resulted in twenty-one books between then and 1963, and the characters of Julian, Dick, Anne, George (Georgina) and Timmy the dog became household names in Britain.[31] Matthew Grenby, author of Children's Literature, states that the five were involved with "unmasking hardened villains and solving serious crimes", although the novels were "hardly 'hard-boiled' thrillers".[32] Blyton based the character of Georgina, a tomboy she described as "short-haired, freckled, sturdy, and snub-nosed" and "bold and daring, hot-tempered and loyal", on herself.[10]

Blyton had an interest in biblical narratives, and retold Old and New Testament stories. The Land of Far-Beyond (1942) is a Christian parable along the lines of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1698), with contemporary children as the main characters.[33] In 1943 she published The Children's Life of Christ, a collection of fifty-nine short stories related to the life of Jesus, with her own slant on popular biblical stories, from the Nativity and the Three Wise Men through to the trial, the crucifixion and the resurrection.[34] Tales from the Bible was published the following year,[35] followed by The Boy with the Loaves and Fishes in 1948.[36]

The first book of Blyton's Five Find-Outers series, The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage, was published in 1943, as was the second book in the Faraway series, The Magic Faraway Tree, which in 2003 was voted 66th in the BBC's Big Read poll to find the UK's favourite book.[37] Several of Blyton's works during this period have seaside themes; John Jolly by the Sea (1943), a picture book intended for younger readers, was published in a booklet format by Evans Brothers.[38] Other books with a maritime theme include The Secret of Cliff Castle and Smuggler Ben, both attributed to Mary Pollock in 1943;[39] The Island of Adventure, the first in the Adventure series of eight novels from 1944 onwards;[40] and various novels of the Famous Five series such as Five on a Treasure Island (1942),[41] Five on Kirrin Island Again (1947)[42] and Five Go Down to the Sea (1953).[43]

Capitalising on her success, with a loyal and ever-growing readership,[14] Blyton produced a new edition of many of her series such as the Famous Five, the Five Find-Outers and St. Clare's every year in addition to many other novels, short stories and books. In 1946 Blyton launched the first in the Malory Towers series of six books based around the schoolgirl Darrell Rivers, First Term at Malory Towers, which became extremely popular, particularly with girls.[44]

Peak output: 1949–1959

The first book in Blyton's Barney Mysteries series, The Rockingdown Mystery, was published in 1949,[45] as was the first of her fifteen Secret Seven novels.[46] The Secret Seven Society consists of Peter, his sister Janet, and their friends Colin, George, Jack, Pam and Barbara, who meet regularly in a shed in the garden to discuss peculiar events in their local community. Blyton rewrote the stories so they could be adapted into cartoons, which appeared in Mickey Mouse Weekly in 1951 with illustrations by George Brook. The French author Evelyne Lallemand continued the series in the 1970s, producing an additional twelve books, nine of which were translated into English by Anthea Bell between 1983 and 1987.[47]

Blyton's characters Noddy and Big Ears

Blyton's Noddy, about a little wooden boy from Toyland, first appeared in the Sunday Graphic on 5 June 1949, and in November that year Noddy Goes to Toyland, the first of at least two dozen books in the series, was published. The idea was conceived by one of Blyton's publishers, Sampson, Low, Marston and Company, who in 1949 arranged a meeting between Blyton and the Dutch illustrator Harmsen van der Beek. Despite having to communicate via an interpreter, he provided some initial sketches of how Toyland and its characters would be represented. Four days after the meeting Blyton sent the text of the first two Noddy books to her publisher, to be forwarded to van der Beek.[48] The Noddy books became one of her most successful and best-known series, and were hugely popular in the 1950s.[49] An extensive range of sub-series, spin-offs and strip books were produced throughout the decade, including Noddy's Library, Noddy's Garage of Books, Noddy's Castle of Books, Noddy's Toy Station of Books and Noddy's Shop of Books.[50]

In 1950 Blyton established the company Darrell Waters Ltd to manage her affairs. By the early 1950s she had reached the peak of her output, often publishing more than fifty books a year, and she remained extremely prolific throughout much of the decade.[51] By 1955 Blyton had written her fourteenth Famous Five novel, Five Have Plenty of Fun, her fifteenth Mary Mouse book, Mary Mouse in Nursery Rhyme Land, her eighth book in the Adventure series, The River of Adventure, and her seventh Secret Seven novel, Secret Seven Win Through. She completed the sixth and final book of the Malory Towers series, Last Term at Malory Towers, in 1951.[44]

Blyton published several further books featuring the character of Scamp the terrier, following on from The Adventures of Scamp, a novel she had released in 1943 under the pseudonym of Mary Pollock.[52] Scamp Goes on Holiday (1952) and Scamp and Bimbo, Scamp at School, Scamp and Caroline and Scamp Goes to the Zoo (1954) were illustrated by Pierre Probst. She introduced the character of Bom, a stylish toy drummer dressed in a bright red coat and helmet, alongside Noddy in TV Comic in July 1956.[53] A book series began the same year with Bom the Little Toy Drummer, featuring illustrations by R. Paul-Hoye,[54] and followed with Bom and His Magic Drumstick (1957), Bom Goes Adventuring and Bom Goes to Ho Ho Village (1958), Bom and the Clown and Bom and the Rainbow (1959) and Bom Goes to Magic Town (1960). In 1958 she produced two annuals featuring the character, the first of which included twenty short stories, poems and picture strips.[55]

Final works

Many of Blyton's series, including Noddy and The Famous Five, continued to be successful in the 1960s; by 1962, 26 million copies of Noddy had been sold.[1][a] Blyton concluded several of her long-running series in 1963, publishing the last books of The Famous Five (Five Are Together Again) and The Secret Seven (Fun for the Secret Seven); she also produced three more Brer Rabbit books with the illustrator Grace Lodge: Brer Rabbit Again, Brer Rabbit Book, and Brer Rabbit's a Rascal. In 1962 many of her books were among the first to be published by Armada Books in paperback, making them more affordable to children.[1]

After 1963 Blyton's output was generally confined to short stories and books intended for very young readers, such as Learn to Count with Noddy and Learn to Tell Time with Noddy in 1965, and Stories for Bedtime and the Sunshine Picture Story Book collection in 1966. Her declining health and a falling off in readership among older children have been put forward as the principal reasons for this change in trend.[56] Blyton published her last book in the Noddy series, Noddy and the Aeroplane, in February 1964. In May the following year she published Mixed Bag, a song book with music written by her nephew Carey, and in August she released her last full-length books, The Man Who Stopped to Help and The Boy Who Came Back.[1]

Magazine and newspaper contributions

Blyton cemented her reputation as a children's writer when in 1926 she took over the editing of Sunny Stories, a magazine that typically included the re-telling of legends, myths, stories and other articles for children.[7] That same year she was given her own column in Teachers' World, entitled "From my Window". Three years later she began contributing a weekly page in the magazine, in which she published letters from her fox terrier dog Bobs.[1] They proved to be so popular that in 1933 they were published in book form as Letters from Bobs,[57] and sold ten thousand copies in the first week.[1] Her most popular feature was "Round the Year with Enid Blyton", which consisted of forty-eight articles covering aspects of natural history such as weather, pond life, how to plant a school garden and how to make a bird table.[58] Among Blyton's other nature projects was her monthly "Country Letter" feature that appeared in The Nature Lover magazine in 1935.[59]

Sunny Stories was renamed Enid Blyton's Sunny Stories in January 1937, and served as a vehicle for the serialisation of Blyton's books. Her first Naughty Amelia Jane story, about an anti-heroine based on a doll owned by her daughter Gillian,[60] was published in the magazine.[1] Blyton stopped contributing in 1952, and it closed down the following year, shortly before the appearance of the new fortnightly Enid Blyton Magazine written entirely by Blyton.[61] The first edition appeared on 18 March 1953,[62] and the magazine ran until September 1959.[7]

Noddy made his first appearance in the Sunday Graphic in 1949, the same year as Blyton's first daily Noddy strip for the London Evening Standard.[1] It was illustrated by van der Beek until his death in 1953.[1][63]

Writing style and technique

Blyton worked in a wide range of fictional genres, from fairy tales to animal, nature, detective, mystery, and circus stories, but she often "blurred the boundaries" in her books, and encompassed a range of genres even in her short stories.[64] In a 1958 article published in The Author, she wrote that there were a "dozen or more different types of stories for children", and she had tried them all, but her favourites were those with a family at their centre.[65]

In a letter to the psychologist Peter McKellar,[b] Blyton describes her writing technique:

I shut my eyes for a few minutes, with my portable typewriter on my knee – I make my mind a blank and wait – and then, as clearly as I would see real children, my characters stand before me in my mind's eye ... The first sentence comes straight into my mind, I don't have to think of it – I don't have to think of anything.[67]

In another letter to McKellar she describes how in just five days she wrote the 60,000-word book The River of Adventure, the eighth in her Adventure Series,[68] by listening to what she referred to as her "under-mind",[69] which she contrasted with her "upper conscious mind".[70] Blyton was unwilling to conduct any research or planning before beginning work on a new book, which coupled with the lack of variety in her life[c] according to Druce almost inevitably presented the danger that she might unconsciously, and clearly did, plagiarise the books she had read, including her own.[71] Gillian has recalled that her mother "never knew where her stories came from", but that she used to talk about them "coming from her 'mind's eye'", as did William Wordsworth and Charles Dickens. Blyton had "thought it was made up of every experience she'd ever had, everything she's seen or heard or read, much of which had long disappeared from her conscious memory" but never knew the direction her stories would take. Blyton further explained in her biography that "If I tried to think out or invent the whole book, I could not do it. For one thing, it would bore me and for another, it would lack the 'verve' and the extraordinary touches and surprising ideas that flood out from my imagination."[22]

Blyton's daily routine varied little over the years. She usually began writing soon after breakfast, with her portable typewriter on her knee and her favourite red Moroccan shawl nearby; she believed that the colour red acted as a "mental stimulus" for her. Stopping only for a short lunch break she continued writing until five o'clock, by which time she would usually have produced 6,000–10,000 words.[73]

A 2000 article in The Malay Mail considers Blyton's children to have "lived in a world shaped by the realities of post-war austerity", enjoying freedom without the political correctness of today, which serves modern readers of Blyton's novels with a form of escapism.[74] Brandon Robshaw of The Independent refers to the Blyton universe as "crammed with colour and character", "self-contained and internally consistent", noting that Blyton exemplifies a strong mistrust of adults and figures of authority in her works, creating a world in which children govern.[75] Gillian noted that in her mother's adventure, detective and school stories for older children, "the hook is the strong storyline with plenty of cliffhangers, a trick she acquired from her years of writing serialised stories for children's magazines. There is always a strong moral framework in which bravery and loyalty are (eventually) rewarded".[22] Blyton herself wrote that "my love of children is the whole foundation of all my work".[76]

Victor Watson, Assistant Director of Research at Homerton College, Cambridge, believes that Blyton's works reveal an "essential longing and potential associated with childhood", and notes how the opening pages of The Mountain of Adventure present a "deeply appealing ideal of childhood".[77] He argues that Blyton's work differs from that of many other authors in its approach, describing the narrative of The Famous Five series for instance as "like a powerful spotlight, it seeks to illuminate, to explain, to demystify. It takes its readers on a roller-coaster story in which the darkness is always banished; everything puzzling, arbitrary, evocative is either dismissed or explained". Watson further notes how Blyton often used minimalist visual descriptions and introduced a few careless phrases such as "gleamed enchantingly" to appeal to her young readers.[78]

From the mid-1950s rumours began to circulate that Blyton had not written all the books attributed to her, a charge she found particularly distressing. She published an appeal in her magazine asking children to let her know if they heard such stories and, after one mother informed her that she had attended a parents' meeting at her daughter's school during which a young librarian had repeated the allegation,[79] Blyton decided in 1955 to begin legal proceedings.[1] The librarian was eventually forced to make a public apology in open court early the following year, but the rumours that Blyton operated "a 'company' of ghost writers" persisted, as some found it difficult to believe that one woman working alone could produce such a volume of work.[80]

Enid's Conservative personal politics were often in view in her fiction. In The Mystery of the Missing Necklace (a The Five Find-Outers installment), she uses the character of young Elizabeth ("Bets") to give a statement praising Winston Churchill and describing the politician as a "statesman". Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

Revisions to later editions

To address criticisms levelled at Blyton's work some later editions have been altered to reflect more liberal attitudes towards issues such as race, gender and the treatment of children; modern reprints of the Noddy series substitute teddy bears or goblins for golliwogs, for instance.[81] The golliwogs who steal Noddy's car and dump him naked in the Dark Wood in Here Comes Noddy Again are replaced by goblins in the 1986 revision, who strip Noddy only of his shoes and hat and return at the end of the story to apologise.[82]

The Faraway Tree's Dame Slap, who made regular use of corporal punishment, was changed to Dame Snap who no longer did so, and the names of Dick and Fanny in the same series were changed to Rick and Frannie.[83] Characters in the Malory Towers and St. Clare's series are no longer spanked or threatened with a spanking, but are instead scolded. References to George's short hair making her look like a boy were removed in revisions to Five on a Hike Together, reflecting the idea that girls need not have long hair to be considered feminine or normal.[84] Anne of The Famous Five stating that boys cannot wear pretty dresses or like girl's dolls was removed.[85] In The Adventurous Four, the names of the young twin girls were changed from Jill and Mary to Pippa and Zoe.[86]

In 2010 Hodder, the publisher of the Famous Five series, announced its intention to update the language used in the books, of which it sold more than half a million copies a year. The changes, which Hodder described as "subtle", mainly affect the dialogue rather than the narrative. For instance, "school tunic" becomes "uniform", "mother and father", and "mother and daddy" (this latter one used by young female characters and deemed sexist) becomes "mum and dad",[87] "bathing" is replaced by "swimming", and "jersey" by "jumper".[83] Some commentators see the changes as necessary to encourage modern readers,[87] whereas others regard them as unnecessary and patronising.[83] In 2016 Hodder's parent company Hachette announced that they would abandon the revisions as, based on feedback, they had not been a success.[88]

Stage, film and television adaptations

In 1954 Blyton adapted Noddy for the stage, producing the Noddy in Toyland pantomime in just two or three weeks. The production was staged at the 2660-seat Stoll Theatre in Kingsway, London at Christmas.[89] Its popularity resulted in the show running during the Christmas season for five or six years.[90] Blyton was delighted with its reception by children in the audience, and attended the theatre three or four times a week.[91] TV adaptations of Noddy since 1954 include one in the 1970s narrated by Richard Briers.[92] In 1955 a stage play based on the Famous Five was produced, and in January 1997 the King's Head Theatre embarked on a six-month tour of the UK with The Famous Five Musical, to commemorate Blyton's centenary. On 21 November 1998 The Secret Seven Save the World was first performed at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff.[1]

There have also been several film and television adaptations of the Famous Five: by the Children's Film Foundation in 1957 and 1964, Southern Television in 1978–79, and Zenith Productions in 1995–97.[7] The series was also adapted for the German film Fünf Freunde, directed by Mike Marzuk and released in 2011.[93]

The Comic Strip, a group of British comedians, produced two extreme parodies of the Famous Five for Channel 4 television: Five Go Mad in Dorset, broadcast in 1982,[d] and Five Go Mad on Mescalin, broadcast the following year.[1] A third in the series, Five Go to Rehab, was broadcast on Sky in 2012.[95]

Blyton's The Faraway Tree series of books has also been adapted to television and film. On 29 September 1997 the BBC began broadcasting an animated series called The Enchanted Lands, based on the series.[96] It was announced in October 2014 that a deal had been signed with publishers Hachette for "The Faraway Tree" series to be adapted into a live-action film by director Sam Mendes’ production company. Marlene Johnson, head of children’s books at Hachette, said: "Enid Blyton was a passionate advocate of children’s storytelling, and The Magic Faraway Tree is a fantastic example of her creative imagination."[97]


Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle upon Tyne, holds the largest public collection of Blyton's papers and typescripts.[98] The Seven Stories collection contains a significant number of Blyton's typescripts, including the previously unpublished novel, Mr Tumpy's Caravan, as well as personal papers and diaries.[99] The purchase of the material in 2010 was made possible by special funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, and two private donations.[100]

See also



  1. ^ In 1960 alone, eleven Noddy books were published, including the strip books Noddy and the Runaway Wheel, Noddy's Bag of Money, and Noddy's Car Gets into Trouble.[1]
  2. ^ McKellar had written to Blyton in February 1953 asking for the imagery techniques she employed in her writing, for a research project he had undertaken. The results of his investigation were published in Imagination and Thinking (1957).[66]
  3. ^ In her leisure time Blyton led the life of a typical suburban housewife, gardening, and playing golf or bridge. She rarely left England, preferring to holiday by the English coast, almost invariably in Dorset,[71] where she and her husband took over the lease of an 18-hole golf course at Studland Bay in 1951.[72]
  4. ^ The Comic Strip's Five Go Mad in Dorset contains the first occurrence of a phrase wrongly attributed to Blyton, "lashings of ginger beer".[94]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Chronology", Enid Blyton Society, retrieved 23 January 2014
  2. ^ Baverstock (1997), p. 5
  3. ^ Blyton (1952), p. 54
  4. ^ a b Bensoussane, Anita, "A Biography of Enid Blyton – The Story of Her Life", Enid Blyton Society, retrieved 25 January 2014
  5. ^ Thompson & Keenan (2006), p. 77
  6. ^ a b Druce (1992), p. 9
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Ray, Sheila (2004), "Blyton, Enid Mary (1897–1968)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31939, retrieved 19 June 2008 (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 377
  9. ^ Bhimani, Nazlin (19 June 2012), "Enid Blyton, educationalist", Institute of Education, University of London, retrieved 30 April 2014
  10. ^ a b "Enid the writer", Enid Blyton Society, retrieved 23 January 2014
  11. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 552
  12. ^ a b Stoney (2011), loc. 624–630
  13. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 645
  14. ^ a b c Rudd (2004), p. 112
  15. ^ "Real Fairies", Enid Blyton Society, retrieved 24 April 2014
  16. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 944–951
  17. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 3804
  18. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 3810
  19. ^ Brazouski & Klatt (1994), p. 25
  20. ^ Commire (1981), p. 57
  21. ^ Stoney (2011), loc. 3910
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  • Baverstock, Gillian (1997), Enid Blyton, Evans Brothers, ISBN 978-0-237-51751-9
  • Bluemel, Kristin (2009), Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-twentieth-century Britain, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-3509-2
  • Blyton, Enid (1952), The Story of my Life, Grafton, ISBN 978-0-246-12795-2
  • Blyton, Enid (2013a) [1961], Secret Seven: 13: Shock For The Secret Seven, Hachette Children's Books, ISBN 978-1-4449-1867-0
  • Blyton, Enid (2013b) [1963], Secret Seven: 15: Fun For The Secret Seven, Hachette Children's Books, ISBN 978-1-84456-949-6
  • Bouson, J. Brooks (2012), Jamaica Kincaid: Writing Memory, Writing Back to the Mother, SUNY Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-8292-6
  • Brazouski, Antoinette; Klatt, Mary J. (1994), Children's Books on Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-313-28973-6
  • Briggs, Julia; Butts, Dennis; Orville Grenby, Matthew (2008), Popular Children's Literature in Britain, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84014-242-6
  • Commire, Anne (1981), Something About the Author, 25, Gale Research, ISBN 978-0-8103-0087-3
  • Druce, Robert (1992), This Day our Daily Fictions: An Enquiry into the Multi-million Bestseller Status of Enid Blyton and Ian Fleming, Rodopi, ISBN 978-90-5183-401-7
  • Edwards, Owen Dudley (2007), British Children's Fiction in the Second World War, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-1651-0
  • Fisher, Margery (1986), The Bright Face of Danger : An Exploration of the Adventure Story, Hodder Children's Books, ISBN 978-0-34022-993-4
  • Greenfield, George (1995), A Smattering of Monsters: A Kind of Memoir, Camden House, ISBN 978-1-57113-071-6
  • Grenby, Matthew (2008), Children's Literature, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-2274-0
  • Inglis, Fred (1982), The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children's Fiction, CUP Archive, ISBN 978-0-521-27070-0
  • Matthew, Colin (1999), Brief Lives: Twentieth-century Pen Portraits from the Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-280089-3
  • Murray, Shannon (2010), "A Book for Boys and Girls: Or, Country Rhimes for Children: Bunyan and Literature for Children", in Dunan-Page, Anne (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Bunyan, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–134, ISBN 978-0-521-73308-3
  • Naismith, Jon; Garden, Graeme (2013), The Unbelievable Truth, Preface
  • Palmer, Alex (2013), Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature, Skyhorse Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-62873-221-4
  • Rudd, David (2004), "Blytons, Noddies, and Denoddification Centers: The Changing Constructions of a Cultural Icon", in Walt, Thomas Van der; Fairer-Wessels, Felicité; Inggs, Judith (eds.), Change and Renewal in Children's Literature, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 111–118, ISBN 978-0-275-98185-3
  • Stoney, Barbara (2011) [2006], Enid Blyton: The Biography (Kindle ed.), History Press, ISBN 978-0-7524-6957-7
  • Thompson, A. H. (1975), Censorship in Public Libraries in the United Kingdom during the Twentieth Century (First ed.), Bowker (R.R.) (UK) Ltd, pp. 137–157, ISBN 978-0-8593-5019-8
  • Thompson, Mary Shine; Keenan, Celia (2006), Treasure Islands: Studies in Children's Literature, Four Courts Press, ISBN 978-1-85182-941-5
  • Tucker, Nicholas (1990), The Child and the Book: A Psychological and Literary Exploration, CUP Archive, ISBN 978-0-521-39835-0
  • Watson, Victor (2000), Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp, Psychology Press, ISBN 978-0-415-22701-8

Further reading

  • Greenfield, George (1998), Enid Blyton, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7509-1633-2
  • Mullan, Bob (1987), The Enid Blyton Story, Boxtree, ISBN 978-1-85283-201-8
  • Ray, Sheila G. (1982), The Blyton Phenomenon, Andre Deutsch, ISBN 978-0-233-97441-5
  • Smallwood, Imogen (1989), A Childhood at Green Hedges: A Fragment of Autobiography by Enid Blyton's Daughter, Methuen Young Books, ISBN 978-0-416-12632-7
  • Stewart, Brian; Summerfield, Tony (1998), The Enid Blyton Dossier, Hawk Books, ISBN 978-1-899441-70-9
  • Summerfield, Tony; Wright, Norman (1995), Sunny Stories 1942–1953: An Index, Norman Wright
  • Willey, Mason (1993), Enid Blyton: A Bibliography of First Editions and Other Collectable Books: with Cross-referenced Publishers, Illustrators and Themes, Willey, ISBN 978-0-9521284-0-3

External links