E has to be for Enid Blyton

E has to be for Enid Blyton

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1897 – 1968

I cannot imagine my childhood without her. For a long time I
thought she was a ‘he’ called Gnid Blyton. She is Enid Blyton.
I then lived in a rather congested city area where houses
were stacked close together and green garden patches were rare treats. We did, however,
have endless open terraces stretching across houses. Sitting there dreaming
over my homework I would lose myself in Enid Blyton.
She became my favourite companion as together we followed Jo, Bessy and Fanny up the Faraway tree dodging Mrs Washalot’s deluge, sliding down Moonface’s Slippery Slip or gasping from the cold water the Angry Pixie threw at us. 

We picnicked on the
wide green moors with Julian, Dick, George and Anne when I wasn’t even sure
whether moors were people or places or both. I could almost savour Aunt Fanny’s
fruitcake and plums from Kirrin Cottage and wash it all down with cool lemonade. Some days we’d clamber onto the wishing chair with Peter,
Molly and Chinky and fly away to far off lands.

And of course there was school. Malory Towers, St Clairs!
I’d watch a game of Lacrosse though I could barely pronounce it forget figuring
out what it was. I learnt from Irene that music and maths go together. I rolled
in laughter at mam’zelle’s English and was inspired by Alicia’s pranks
Oh it was all so much fun. Enid Blyton was all of that and
more.

Boy she was prolific

At the peak of her career she was writing 50 books a year.
She would start writing after breakfast and continue till 5 in the evening
stopping only for a short lunch. She did, on an average 6000 to 10,000 words a
day. There were rumours that she had a team of ghost writers because people
found it difficult to believe that one woman could write so much. She even took
legal action against a librarian who had said so and won the case.
She said the stories flowed from her imagination without her needing to think about them. She didn’t believe in research of any kind and
wrote simply from her imagination. She would often have a red shawl draped
around her knees. She felt the colour red provided stimulation to her mind.

Her life

Sadly, she didn’t have a very happy childhood. She loved her
father very much but he left the family to live with another woman. She was
heartbroken. She didn’t get along with her mother who disapproved of her
writing. Later she wasn’t much of a mother herself to her two daughters.  
And there’s more bad
coming.
She was said to be a ruthless self promoter. Her understanding of
marketing and branding were way ahead of her times. She looked into each aspect of her books including the designing. It was she who insisted all
her books have that trademark signature. She didn’t shy away from using her daughters for publicity and they were brought out to be ‘displayed’ to her fans. Her
daughter Imogen writes in her (Blyton’s) biography that she was ‘without a trace of maternal
instinct’.
However, her fans were her real family. Her books had
everything that her own life didn’t.

But there are detractors of her work too..

… plenty of them. Her books were allegedly unchallenging and
without literary merit. She has been termed ‘elitist’ (George from Famous Five
owned an island), sexist (Check out this remark made by Julian for George, ‘You
may look like a boy and behave like a boy, but you’re a girl all the same. And
like it or not, girls have got to be taken care of’
) and racist (Golliwogs were
often depicted as the ‘bad’ ones).
Critics called her plots unimaginative and repetitive.
Schools banned her books in the 60s and BBC refused to broadcast her works!!

And yet she has survived..

It cannot possibly be all marketing, can it? A magical world
on top of a tree, a chair with wings, toys that came to life at night – heck an
entire Toyland, pixies, fairies, elves and goblins… unimaginative?? Nah!
As for the repetition.. I loved it. I waited for it. Come on, kids love repetition. Not for nothing have I told the same stories to my twins
countless times.. sometimes even back to back.
You get the idea? I WILL NOT listen to anything against her.
And so millions of young ones and the not so young ones, continue to adore her
books making her one of the widest selling authors ever.

Some of her books have been ‘polished’ to make them suitable for the 21st century. What do you think, people? Would you prefer a ‘polished’ Blyton for your kids? Think about that.

Meanwhile, I’m off to paint my house red.. maybe then a book will happen.

Oh yes the clue for tomorrow – She’s a lady (again!), she doesn’t have the quintessential pretty heroine, in fact she’s definitely overweight, and (this is the giveaway clue) her heroine’s in love with Mr Darcy. Come now tell me.

**********
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.


Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
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63 Replies to “E has to be for Enid Blyton”

  1. This was a nice read Tulika. 🙂 like almost everyone has said, I have grown up with her books, still read them, and what more, my work deal with her too 🙂 talk of loyalty.. 🙂

  2. I just adore Enid Blyton and fell in love with her land and people through her books. I wanted to be be Elizabeth Allen of the daughty girl series for a long time and in my dreams went on adventures with the famous five and the secret seven.
    Thinking about introducing her books to my five year old son..

  3. Hi Tulika,
    It was really a joy reading your brilliant piece about Enid Blyton. You were factual, gave a balanced view and were to the point. We need more writers like you!
    Enid Blyton did indeed write from her imagination, but there’s more to this statement than this simple assertion. In my forthcoming book: Enid Blyton – The Untold Story, readers will get a full understanding of where her stories really came from. This is stated in the chapter: Enid Blyton – The Professional Storyteller. The book deals almost exclusively with facts about her extraordinary professional life that are not generally known. More information can be found by visiting my website:
    http://www.enidblytonbio.co.uk
    Finally, if you write so brilliantly about Enid Blyton, then I imagine that you’ll succeed in any other type of writing you put your hands to. So there’ll be no need to paint your house red for a book to come (smile) – it will come naturally because you’re a gifted writer.
    Looking forward to reading more of your writing.
    Brian Carter

  4. Enid Blyton was my life, I still hope that someday I will visit a land atop the Magic Faraway tree 🙂 yes, I used to think t was Gnid Blyton too til my sister pointed it out.

  5. I loved EB and my mother very thoughtfully saved all my childhood hardbacks for me. I now have two girls of my own and have tried reading them to them. They don't seem to be able to love her the same way that I did and my eldest when about 8 was positively disgusted by some of the sexist comments in one of the books. Her horror was hysterical.

  6. The Faraway Tree and the lands that keep changing on top of it – loved them!!! The tree had such colorful characters, my favorites were Dame Washalot and the Angry Goblin who kept throwing ink at people!!

  7. You have provided here a very good piece of information. I haven't read her but have watched the famous 'Famous Five' Series! And was completely in love with them. Had a good time reading about her life. My sister has read her…. She used to talk about 'the faraway tree'. She is a fan of this wonderful Author 🙂

  8. We all were on a Blyton diet as children, and never tired of it ! Every now and then Buster would come running for his treat, or Fatty will rum about in a disguise 😀 And hey, isn't that Darrell and Sally up there ? 🙂 Lovely treat, Tulika !! 🙂

  9. Ah – Enid Blyton – I would wonder why was it such a 'beautiful sunny day'. If you grew up in south of India, or anywhere in India, sun was just taken for granted. She created an idyllic world on English countryside amongst children of a different generation thousands of miles away. I plan to pick up An Enid Blyton this weekend for bedside reading to revel in some nostalgia. Look forward to your features on other authors.

  10. Tulika, you absolute beauty!! If I had to choose one author, EB would be IT!! She is the reason I and most of my friends grew up to love reading. There are so many comments I want to make on your post but perhaps that's best saved for another day. I don't care what sort of a person she was supposed to be in real life, the magical worlds she created are all I am concerned with. Thanks for this fab post and look forward to reading about Helen Fielding tomorrow. 🙂

  11. It sounds like her books were a staple of childhood. Too sad that her childhood left something to be desired and probably also why she didn't have any maternal instincts if she had no real good example in her own mother.

  12. I have a few of her books in my study, your post has me going in to get them off of the shelves and re visit my favorite carefree happy days, thank you.

  13. I adore Enid Blyton's books — Faraway tree, Malory Towers, St Clares, Five find outers — I loved them all!! I wanted to go to boarding school because of Malory Towers & St. Clare's. I too prefer to ignore the negative stuff about her books and writing. Having said that, apparently as a person, she was quite the narcissist and self-involved.

    As for tomorrow's author — is it the author of Bridget Jones?? (Cannot remember her name!)

  14. It came to me as a surprise when I came to know that Enid Blyton was a woman. She indeed was an important part of my growing up years. Your post reminded me some beautiful memories

  15. Like all the people who have commented above, I was an Enid Blyton fan too. Her books Malory Towers and Famous Five were my favorites. We used to borrow the books from library and spend the entire summer reading the series. 🙂

  16. I grew up with Enid Blyton's books. I've read all of them. In the school series, I loved Claudine at St.Clare's so much. Then there were the early books with a moral – in one of them, there is the story of a girl called Matilda. Then about the boy who left his tools out in the rain…What lovely memories!

    I could still read an Enid Blyton book and be enthralled. I have the entire digital collection.

    Hugs, Tulika!

  17. Enid Blyton had a tough life in real world but it never came across in her reel world. I love her absolutely for giving me such splendid years in childhood, for memories of faraway land, enchanted woods, ginger ale, Moon Face, The Famous Five and the list can go on and on. I still, to date, pick of one of her books to run away from the troubles and into the magical world.

  18. Enid Blyton is the reason I became a bookworm. For all of the reasons listed above. And I smiled and nodded along with every line of your memories. Do you know I recently purchased the entire St.Clares collection for a bargain?! And read them all over again. Sad to know about her childhood. No, I wouldn't change her books to be politically correct. I grew up just fine and balanced on the original works. Today, your post goes on my recommendation list 🙂

  19. It is good that you combine your appreciation for a particular author with some key details about their life, work and critical review of their writing. For some reason, I was never much into Enid Blyton….o well 🙂

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