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Enid Blyton

i/Five_Have_Plenty_of_Fun" id="whe_lnki_121" title="Five Have Plenty of Fun">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.[43]

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.[51] 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.[52] A book series began the same year with Bom the Little Toy Drummer, featuring illustrations by R. Paul-Hoye,[53] 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.[54]

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][1] 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.[55] Blyton published her last book in the Noddy series, Noddy and the Aeroplane, in February 1964. In May the following year she published May – 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,[56] 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.[57] Among Blyton's other nature projects was her monthly "Country Letter" feature that appeared in The Nature Lover magazine in 1935.[58]

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,[59] 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.[60] The first edition appeared on 18 March 1953,[61] 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][62]

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.[63] 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.[64]

In a letter to the psychologist Peter McKellar,[2] 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.[66]

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,[67] by listening to what she referred to as her "under-mind",[68] which she contrasted with her "upper conscious mind".[69] 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[3] according to Druce almost inevitably presented the danger that she might unconsciously, and clearly did, plagiarise the books she had read, including her own.[70] 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."[21]

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.[72]

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.[73] 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.[74] 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".[21] Blyton herself wrote that "my love of children is the whole foundation of all my work".[75]

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".[76] 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.[77]

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,[78] 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.[79]

Charitable work

Blyton felt a responsibility to provide her readers with a positive moral framework, and she encouraged them to support worthy causes.[80] Her view, expressed in a 1957 article, was that children should help animals and other children rather than adults:

[children] are not interested in helping adults; indeed, they think that adults themselves should tackle adult needs. But they are intensely interested in animals and other children and feel compassion for the blind boys and girls, and for the spastics who are unable to walk or talk.[81]

Blyton and the members of the children's clubs she promoted via her magazines raised a great deal of money for various charities; according to Blyton, membership of her clubs meant "working for others, for no reward". The largest of the clubs she was involved with was the Busy Bees, the junior section of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, which Blyton had actively supported since 1933. The club had been set up by Maria Dickin in 1934,[82] and after Blyton publicised its existence in the Enid Blyton Magazine it attracted 100,000 members in three years.[83] Such was Blyton's popularity among children that after she became Queen Bee in 1952 more than 20,000 additional members were recruited in her first year in office.[82] The Enid Blyton Magazine Club was formed in 1953.[1] Its primary object was to raise funds to help those children with cerebral palsy who attended a centre in Cheyne Walk, in Chelsea, London, by furnishing an on-site hostel among other things.[84]

The Famous Five series gathered such a following that readers asked Blyton if they might form a fan club. She agreed, on condition that it serve a useful purpose, and suggested that it could raise funds for the Shaftesbury Society Babies' Home[4] in Beaconsfield, on whose committee she had served since 1948.[86] The club was established in 1952, and provided funds for equipping a Famous Five Ward at the home, a paddling pool, sun room, summer house, playground, birthday and Christmas celebrations, and visits to the pantomime.[85] By the late 1950s Blyton's clubs had a membership of 500,000, and raised £35,000 in the six years of the Enid Blyton Magazine's run.[4]

By 1974 the Famous Five Club had a membership of 220,000, and was growing at the rate of 6000 new members a year.[87][5] The Beaconsfield home it was set up to support closed in 1967, but the club continued to raise funds for other paediatric charities, including an Enid Blyton bed at Great Ormond Street Hospital and a mini-bus for disabled children at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.[89]

Jigsaw puzzles and games

Blyton capitalised upon her commercial success as an author by negotiating agreements with jigsaw puzzle and games manufacturers from the late 1940s onwards; by the early 1960s some 146 different companies were involved in merchandising Noddy alone.[90] In 1948 Bestime released four jigsaw puzzles featuring her characters, and the first Enid Blyton board game appeared, Journey Through Fairyland, created by BGL. The first card game, Faraway Tree, appeared from Pepys in 1950. In 1954 Bestime released the first four jigsaw puzzles of the Secret Seven, and the following year a Secret Seven card game appeared.[46]

Bestime released the Little Noddy Car Game in 1953 and the Little Noddy Leap Frog Game in 1955, and in 1956 American manufacturer Parker Brothers released Little Noddy's Taxi Game, a board game which features Noddy driving about town, picking up various characters.[91] Bestime released its Plywood Noddy Jigsaws series in 1957 and a Noddy jigsaw series featuring cards appeared from 1963, with illustrations by Robert Lee. Arrow Games became the chief producer of Noddy jigsaws in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[90] Whitman manufactured four new Secret Seven jigsaw puzzles in 1975, and produced four new Malory Towers ones two years later.[46] In 1979 the company released a Famous Five adventure board game, Famous Five Kirrin Island Treasure.[92] Stephen Thraves wrote eight Famous Five adventure game books, published by Hodder & Stoughton in the 1980s. The first adventure game book of the series, The Wreckers' Tower Game, was published in October 1984.[93]

Personal life

Blyton's home "Old Thatch" near Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, 1929–38

On 28 August 1924 Blyton married

  • Watch and listen to BBC archive programmes about Enid Blyton
  • Enid Blyton letters from the BBC archive
  • Enid Blyton Collection
  • Newsreel footage of Enid Blyton at home with her family, 1946
  • The Enid Blyton Collection at Seven Stories
  • Seven Stories' Enid Blyton Blog

External links

  • Greenfield, George (1998), Enid Blyton, Sutton Publishing,  
  • Mullan, Bob (1987), The Enid Blyton Story, Boxtree,  
  • Ray, Sheila G. (1982), The Blyton Phenomenon, Andre Deutsch,  
  • Smallwood, Imogen (1989), A Childhood at Green Hedges: A Fragment of Autobiography by Enid Blyton's Daughter, Methuen Young Books,  
  • Stewart, Brian; Summerfield, Tony (1998), The Enid Blyton Dossier, Hawk Books,  
  • 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,  

Further reading

  • Baverstock, Gillian (1997), Enid Blyton, Evans Brothers,  
  • Bluemel, Kristin (2009), Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-twentieth-century Britain, Edinburgh University Press,  
  • Blyton, Enid (1952), The Story of my Life, Grafton,  
  • Blyton, Enid (2013a) [1961], Secret Seven: 13: Shock For The Secret Seven, Hachette Children's Books,  
  • Blyton, Enid (2013b) [1963], Secret Seven: 15: Fun For The Secret Seven, Hachette Children's Books,  
  • Bouson, J. Brooks (2012), Jamaica Kincaid: Writing Memory, Writing Back to the Mother, SUNY Press,  
  • Brazouski, Antoinette; Klatt, Mary J. (1994), Children's Books on Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology: An Annotated Bibliography, Greenwood Publishing Group,  
  • Briggs, Julia; Butts, Dennis; Orville Grenby, Matthew (2008), Popular Children's Literature in Britain, Ashgate Publishing,  
  • Commire, Anne (1981), Something About the Author 25, Gale Research,  
  • Druce, Robert (1992), This Day our Daily Fictions: An Enquiry into the Multi-million Bestseller Status of Enid Blyton and Ian Fleming, Rodopi,  
  • Edwards, Owen Dudley (2007), British Children's Fiction in the Second World War, Edinburgh University Press,  
  • Fisher, Margery (1986), The Bright Face of Danger : An Exploration of the Adventure Story, Hodder Children's Books,  
  • Greenfield, George (1995), A Smattering of Monsters: A Kind of Memoir, Camden House,  
  • Grenby, Matthew (2008), Children's Literature, Edinburgh University Press,  
  • Inglis, Fred (1982), The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children's Fiction, CUP Archive,  
  • Matthew, Colin (1999), Brief Lives: Twentieth-century Pen Portraits from the Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press,  
  • Murray, Shannon (2010), "A Book for Boys and Girls: Or, Country Rhimes for Children: Bunyan and Literature for Children", in Dunan-Page, Anne, The Cambridge Companion to Bunyan, Cambridge University Press, pp. 120–134,  
  • Palmer, Alex (2013), Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature, Skyhorse Publishing Company,  
  • 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, Change and Renewal in Children's Literature, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 111–118,  
  • Stoney, Barbara (2011) [2006], Enid Blyton: The Biography (Kindle ed.), History Press,  
  • Thompson, Mary Shine; Keenan, Celia (2006), Treasure Islands: Studies in Children's Literature, Four Courts Press,  
  • Tucker, Nicholas (1990), The Child and the Book: A Psychological and Literary Exploration, CUP Archive,  
  • Watson, Victor (2000), Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp, Psychology Press,  

Bibliography

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Citations

  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).[65]
  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,[70] where she and her husband took over the lease of an 18-hole golf course at Studland Bay in 1951.[71]
  4. ^ Despite its name, the society provided accommodation for pre-school infants in need of special care.[85]
  5. ^ The Famous Five Club was run by the publisher of Blyton's Famous Five series.[88]
  6. ^ Blyton submitted her first proposal to the BBC in 1936.[130]
  7. ^ The Comic Strip's Five Go Mad in Dorset contains the first occurrence of a phrase wrongly attributed to Blyton, "lashings of ginger beer".[126]

Notes

References

See also

Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books holds the largest public collection of Blyton's papers and typescripts.[160] 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.[161] 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.[162]

Papers

In October 2014 it was announced 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."[159]

The Comic Strip, a group of British comedians, produced two parodies of the Famous Five for Channel 4 television: Five Go Mad in Dorset, broadcast in 1982,[7] 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.[158]

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.[157]

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.[153] Its popularity resulted in the show running during the Christmas season for five or six years.[154] Blyton was delighted with its reception by children in the audience, and attended the theatre three or four times a week.[155] TV adaptations of Noddy since 1954 include one in the 1970s narrated by Richard Briers.[156] 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]

Stage, film and TV adaptations

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" becomes "mum and dad",[152] "bathing" is replaced by "swimming", and "jersey" by "jumper".[150] Some commentators see the changes as necessary to encourage modern readers,[152] whereas others regard them as unnecessary and patronising.[150]

Five on a Hike Together, reflecting the idea that girls need not have long hair to be considered feminine or normal.[151]

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.[148] 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.[149]

Revisions to later editions

Blyton's depictions of boys and girls are considered by many critics to be sexist.[145] [146] In a Guardian article published in 2005 Lucy Mangan proposed that The Famous Five series depicts a power struggle between Julian, Dick and George (Georgina), in which the female characters either act like boys or are talked down to, as when Dick lectures George: "it's really time you gave up thinking you're as good as a boy".[147]

Accusations of xenophobia were also made. As George Greenfield observed, "Enid was very much part of that between-the-wars middle class which believed that foreigners were untrustworthy or funny or sometimes both".[142] The publisher Macmillan conducted an internal assessment of Blyton's The Mystery That Never Was, submitted to them at the height of her fame in 1960. The review was carried out by the author and books editor Phyllis Hartnoll, in whose view "There is a faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia in the author's attitude to the thieves; they are 'foreign' ... and this seems to be regarded as sufficient to explain their criminality." Macmillan rejected the manuscript,[143] but it was published by William Collins in 1961,[144] and then again in 1965 and 1983.[143]

Accusations of racism in Blyton's books were first made by Lena Jeger in a Guardian article published in 1966, in which she was critical of Blyton's The Little Black Doll, published a few months earlier. Sambo, the black doll of the title, is hated by his owner and the other toys owing to his "ugly black face", and runs away. A shower of rain washes his face clean, after which he is welcomed back home with his now pink face.[139] Jamaica Kincaid also considers the Noddy books to be "deeply racist" because of the blonde children and the black golliwogs.[140] In Blyton's 1944 novel The Island of Adventure, a black servant named Jo-Jo is depicted as an enemy of the British. Although he is portrayed as very intelligent, Jo-Jo is a spy for the Nazis and is particularly cruel to the children.[141]

Racism, xenophobia and sexism

The author Nicholas Tucker notes that it was common to see Blyton cited as people's favourite or least favourite author according to their age, and argues that her books create an "encapsulated world for young readers that simply dissolves with age, leaving behind only memories of excitement and strong identification".[136] Fred Inglis considers Blyton's books to be technically easy to read, but to also be "emotionally and cognitively easy". He mentions that the psychologist Michael Woods believed that Blyton was different from many other older authors writing for children in that she seemed untroubled by presenting them with a world that differed from reality. Woods surmised that Blyton "was a child, she thought as a child, and wrote as a child ... the basic feeling is essentially pre-adolescent ... Enid Blyton has no moral dilemmas ... Inevitably Enid Blyton was labelled by rumour a child-hater. If true, such a fact should come as no surprise to us, for as a child herself all other children can be nothing but rivals for her."[137] Inglis argues though that Blyton was clearly devoted to children and put an enormous amount of energy into her work, with a powerful belief in "representing the crude moral diagrams and garish fantasies of a readership".[137] Blyton's daughter Imogen has stated that she "loved a relationship with children through her books", but real children were an ­intrusion, and there was no room for intruders in the world that Blyton occupied through her writing.[138]

Some librarians felt that Blyton's restricted use of language, a conscious product of her teaching background, was prejudicial to an appreciation of more literary qualities. In a scathing article published in Encounter in 1958, Colin Welch remarked that it was "hard to see how a diet of Miss Blyton could help with the 11-plus or even with the Cambridge English Tripos",[7] but reserved his harshest criticism for Blyton's Noddy, describing him as an "unnaturally priggish ... sanctimonious ... witless, spiritless, snivelling, sneaking doll."[55]

Simplicity

Although Blyton's works have been banned from more public libraries than those of any other author, there is no evidence that the popularity of her books ever suffered, and she remains very widely read.[135] Although some criticised her in the 1950s for the volume of work she produced, Blyton astutely capitalised on being considered a more "savoury" English alternative to what was seen by contemporaries as an invasion by American culture in the form of Disney and comics.[13]

From the 1930s to the 1950s the BBC operated a de facto ban on dramatising Blyton's books for radio, considering her to be a "second-rater" whose work was without literary merit.[129][130][6] The children's literary critic Margery Fisher likened Blyton's books to "slow poison",[7] and Jean E. Sutcliffe of the BBC's schools broadcast department wrote of Blyton's ability to churn out "mediocre material", noting that "her capacity to do so, amounts to genius ... anyone else would have died of boredom long ago".[131] Michael Rosen, Children's Laureate from 2007 until 2009, wrote that "I find myself flinching at occasional bursts of snobbery and the assumed level of privilege of the children and families in the books."[132] The children's author Anne Fine presented an overview of the concerns about Blyton's work and responses to them on BBC Radio 4 in November 2008, in which she noted the "drip, drip, drip of disapproval" associated with the books.[133] Blyton's response to her critics was that she was uninterested in the views of anyone over the age of 12, claiming that half the attacks on her work were motivated by jealousy and the rest came from "stupid people who don't know what they're talking about because they've never read any of my books".[134]

Blyton's range of plots and settings has been described as limited and continually recycled.[70] Responding to claims that her moral views were "dependably predictable",[127] Blyton commented that "most of you could write down perfectly correctly all the things that I believe in and stand for – you have found them in my books, and a writer's books are always a faithful reflection of himself".[128] Many of her books were critically assessed by teachers and librarians, deemed unfit for children to read, and removed from syllabuses and public libraries.[7]

Critical backlash

Novelists influenced by Blyton include the crime writer Peter Hunt's A Step off the Path (1985) is also influenced by the Famous Five, and the St. Clare's and Malory Towers series provided the inspiration for Jacqueline Wilson's Double Act (1996) and Adèle Geras's Egerton Hall trilogy (1990–92) respectively.[126]

In a 1982 survey of 10,000 eleven-year-old children Blyton was voted their most popular writer.[1] She is the world's fourth most translated author, behind Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and William Shakespeare.[118] From 2000 to 2010, Blyton was listed as a Top Ten author, selling almost 8 million copies (worth £31.2 million) in the UK alone.[119] In 2003 The Magic Faraway Tree was voted 66 in the BBC's Big Read.[36] In the 2008 Costa Book Awards, Blyton was voted Britain's best-loved author.[120][121] Her books continue to be very popular among children in Commonwealth nations such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malta, New Zealand, and Australia, and around the world.[122] They have also seen a surge of popularity in China, where they are "big with every generation".[73] In March 2004 Chorion and the Chinese publisher Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press negotiated an agreement over the Noddy franchise, which included bringing the character to an animated series on television, with an expected audience of a further 95 million children under the age of five.[123][124] Chorion spent around £10 million digitising Noddy, and as of 2002 had made television agreements with at least 11 countries worldwide.[125]

Blyton's granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, wrote a new Noddy book to celebrate the character's 60th birthday, 46 years after the last book was published; Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle (2009) was illustrated by Robert Tyndall.[114] In February 2011, the manuscript of a previously unknown Blyton novel, Mr Tumpy's Caravan, was discovered by the archivist at Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books in a collection of papers belonging to Blyton's daughter Gillian, purchased by Seven Stories in 2010 following her death.[115][116] It was initially thought to belong to a comic strip collection of the same name published in 1949, but it appears to be unrelated and is believed to be something written in the 1930s, which had been rejected by a publisher.[116][117]

The London-based entertainment and retail company Trocadero plc purchased Blyton's Darrell Waters Ltd in 1995 for £14.6 million and established a subsidiary, Enid Blyton Ltd, to handle all intellectual properties, character brands and media in Blyton's works.[1][7] The group changed its name to Chorion in 1998, but after financial difficulties in 2012 sold its assets. Hachette UK acquired from Chorion world rights in the Blyton estate in March 2013, including The Famous Five series[112] but excluding the rights to Noddy, which had been sold to DreamWorks Classics (formerly Classic Media, now a subsidiary of DreamWorks Animation)[113] in 2012.

The first Enid Blyton Day was held at Rickmansworth on 6 March 1993, and in October 1996 the Enid Blyton award, The Enid, was given to those who have made outstanding contributions towards children.[1] The Enid Blyton Society was formed in early 1995, to provide "a focal point for collectors and enthusiasts of Enid Blyton" through its thrice-annual Enid Blyton Society Journal, its annual Enid Blyton Day, and its website.[111] On 16 December 1996 Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about Blyton, Secret Lives. To celebrate her centenary in 1997 exhibitions were put on at the London Toy & Model Museum (now closed), Hereford and Worcester County Museum and Bromley Library, and on 9 September the Royal Mail issued centenary stamps.[1]

The Enid Blyton Trust for Children was established in 1982 with Imogen as its first chairman,[110] and in 1985 it established the National Library for the Handicapped Child.[7] Enid Blyton's Adventure Magazine began publication in September 1985, and on 14 October 1992 the BBC began publishing Noddy Magazine and released the Noddy CD-Rom in October 1996.[1]

Since her death and the publication of her daughter Imogen's 1989 autobiography, A Childhood at Green Hedges, Blyton has emerged as an emotionally immature, unstable and often malicious figure.[25] Imogen considered her mother to be "arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult I pitied her."[109] Blyton's eldest daughter Gillian remembered her rather differently however, as "a fair and loving mother, and a fascinating companion".[109]

During the months following her husband's death Blyton became increasingly ill, and moved into a nursing home three months before her death. She died at the Greenways Nursing Home, London, on 28 November 1968, aged 71. A memorial service was held at St James's Church, Piccadilly,[1] and she was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, where her ashes remain. Blyton's home, Green Hedges, was auctioned on 26 May 1971 and demolished in 1973;[106] the site is now occupied by houses and a street named Blyton Close. An English Heritage blue plaque commemorates Blyton at Hook Road in Chessington, where she lived from 1920 to 1924.[107] In 2014 a plaque recording her time as a Beaconsfield resident from 1938 until her death in 1968 was unveiled in the town hall gardens, next to small iron figures of Noddy and Big Ears.[108]

Blue plaque on Blyton's childhood home in Ondine Street, East Dulwich.

Death and legacy

The story of Blyton's life was dramatised in a BBC film entitled Enid, which aired in the United Kingdom on BBC Four on 16 November 2009.[105] Helena Bonham Carter, who played the title role, described Blyton as "a complete workaholic, an achievement junkie and an extremely canny businesswoman" who "knew how to brand herself, right down to the famous signature".[25]

Blyton's health began to deteriorate in 1957, when during a round of golf she started to complain of feeling faint and breathless,[102] and by 1960 she was displaying signs of Alzheimer's disease in her mid-sixties.[103] Blyton's situation was worsened by her husband's declining health throughout the 1960s; he suffered from severe arthritis in his neck and hips, deafness, and became increasingly ill-tempered and erratic until his death on 15 September 1967.[99][104]

Blyton and Darrell Waters married at the City of Westminster Register Office on 20 October 1943. She changed the surname of her daughters to Darrell Waters[101] and publicly embraced her new role as a happily married and devoted doctor's wife.[7] After discovering she was pregnant in the spring of 1945, Blyton miscarried five months later, following a fall from a ladder. The baby would have been Darrell Waters's first child and it would also have been the son for which both of them longed.[95]

Blyton's first daughter Gillian, was born on 15 July 1931, and after a miscarriage in 1934,[95] she gave birth a second daughter, Imogen, on 27 October 1935.[1] In 1938 Blyton and her family moved to a house in Beaconsfield, which was named Green Hedges by Blyton's readers following a competition in her magazine. By the mid-1930s, Pollock – possibly due to the trauma he had suffered during World War I being revived through his meetings as a publisher with Winston Churchill – withdrew increasingly from public life and became a secret alcoholic.[96] With the outbreak of the Second World War, Pollock became involved in the Home Guard.[96] He started a relationship with a budding young writer, Ida Crowe, whom he arranged to work as his secretary at Denbies, where he was stationed.[97] Blyton's marriage to Pollock became troubled, and according to Crowe's memoir, Blyton began a series of affairs,[97] including a lesbian affair with one of the children's nannies.[97][98] In 1941 Blyton met Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters, a London surgeon with whom she began a relationship.[99] Pollock discovered the affair, and threatened to bring divorce proceedings against her. After much discussion with Blyton, it was ultimately agreed that Blyton would present the petition against him.[100] According to Crowe's memoir, Blyton promised that if he admitted to infidelity she would allow him parental access to their daughters; but after the divorce Pollock was forbidden to contact them, and Blyton ensured he was unable to find work in publishing. Pollock, having married Crowe on 26 October 1943, eventually resumed his heavy drinking and was forced to petition for bankruptcy in 1950.[97]

[94][7] (called Peterswood in her books) in 1929.Bourne End in 1926, and then to Old Thatch in Beckenham They initially lived in a flat in Chelsea before moving to Elfin Cottage in [1]

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