Enid Blyton

Being in a reflective frame of mind has taken me down some by-ways into childhood. Like many a post-war child I couldn’t get enough of Enid Blyton.

Yesterday I finished looking at the DVD about her life – Enid. Perhaps I should say that it was loosely about her life, for I had the feeling that we were being given a caricature without any explanation or depth, other than what the imagination could conjure up.

It was hard to watch, especially when her books meant such a lot to me in childhood. My early years were not exactly straight-forward, so I was definitely one of the children Enid wrote for who wanted to escape from the humdrum of life. There wasn’t a lot of colour in my mind’s pictures of my memories of the 1950’s – The Famous Five and Mallory Towers gave me extra friends and family that were missing in my own life. The film was well portrayed, Helena Bonham Carter is indeed a genius at portraying biographical characters, she seems to be able to mold her looks and personality into the person portrayed.

The original biography by Barbara Stone, is probably worth adding to the book list as the write-ups suggest that it is a “warts and all” look at her life, showing her success as a writer and her seeming inability to be a close and loving mother to her two children, whilst she displays tremendous kinship with her young readers.

The other book that I found interesting is Looking for Enid by Duncan McLaren. It is more of a travelogue and journey through both places and writings…… interesting in its own way, but as is the case with such a personal perspective, it does rely heavily on the experiences of McLaren himself.

So there you have it. The reason for my love of reason is the love of a genre of fiction that rested my spirit. Blyton’s world of plenty and adventure was a comfortable and safe one. What do you think of her – author and person?

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8 Responses to Enid Blyton

  1. friko says:

    Enid Blyton books accompanied me at an early age, in translation into German, of course. The Famous Five were probably called things like ‘The Island of Adventure’, I seem to remember four children and a parrot as the main characters.

    I saw the film, she cannot have been an easy person to live with.

    My husband, who is English, thinks of her as a very poor writer with very simple and unrealistic plot lines. Children shouldn’t read such trash, he thinks rather harshly.

    I enjoyed her books and couldn’t get enough of them True, there were an alien world,
    but I found them spell-binding.

  2. Marcia Mayo says:

    I’m a bit embarrassed that I’ve never heard of Enid Blyton, but I’m off to google to check her out.

  3. LC says:

    Me too, Marcia!

  4. Me three, but then of course, I was not an English child, although I have heard of Beatrix Potter. Mom read Peter Rabbit and other to me when I was very young.

  5. Adrienne says:

    Is it really acceptable for children to read books written by an acknowledged fascist, particularly before they are able to decide whether such beliefs are appropriate.

  6. Kelvin says:

    I’m not so sure that children need that kind of protection as much as needing to read in company with people whom they can see think for themselves and make good judgements.

    Isn’t one of the lessons from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (one of the many lessons!) that children ultimately see through fascists for themselves and act accordingly?

  7. freda says:

    Thanks for the comments; although I instinctively knew that Blyton was authoritarian, right-wing, part of the middle-class elite living in her own world – as a child, it gave me a sense of stability. Of course I’ve realised in later years a) that teachers generally did not like her style (and popularity); and b) she was totally racist and unaware of gender issues. But then, that is often the way things were in the 1940’s and 50’s, children really were meant to be seen and not heard, and I for one was sent to bed without any supper (except in my case it was “tea.”)

    She got me reading, though, and I’ve never stopped. Incidentally, on googling her I discovered some of her worst excesses have been air-brushed out, and amazingly her books still sell 8 million copies a year.

  8. Sheila says:

    What a blast from the past! I read her books as a child and have not thought about it for ages and ages. I had no idea what kind of person she was. I remember loving the lbooks. I am not sure how popular they were in Canada. I am sure my Mum introduced me to them and maybe she was familiar with them from Scotland. I don’t think any of my friends read them.

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