The magic of Enid Blyton

Who was Enid Blyton?

Born in 1897 in East Dulwich, London, England, Enid Blyton became one of the world’s best-loved authors of children’s books in the 20th century. She died in 1968 after a distressing period of ill health; she was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium where her ashes still remain.

Her books have been translated into many languages – she is the fifth most translated author in the world, with over 3,500 translations. An estimated 800 books over 40 years is an admirable achievement.

Characters such as Brer Rabbit and Noddy, the Famous Five and the Secret Seven have enchanted and enthralled children for almost 9 decades.

Many of her works courted controversy in the 1960s due to their characters and language; much has changed and many battles were fought to try and strike a balance between retaining her literary style and meeting the modern day pressures of political correctness.

What’s the story?

The stories are many and varied. Their pace and language, moral messages and quiet comfort can still enchant and hold interest.

Rather than list many here I commend a search of either the Enid Blyton Society at http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk or http://www.enidblyton.net to discover more about her considerable literary output.

My purpose here is not to list and highlight but rather to open the world of Enid Blyton to new readers or to those who may have been touched by her books in childhood as I was, but their enchantment and excitement is lost in the memory cupboard of adulthood.

My experience of the books

As a child I was always surrounded by books, they became a joy and a comfort, an escape and a great place to find out things! Knowledge and adventure remain two great ‘draws’ for me and one of my great loves is historical fiction for that very reason.

The likes of Brer rabbit; Tales of Long Ago and Happy Hours to name but a few transported me away to distant lands in some stories – or to the wonders of nature in others.

Much of my early knowledge and interest of nature was from the world of the Adventures of Pip; a fairy who’s adventures involved birds, animals trees and flowers. Simple stories, but ones that quietly wove nature’s wonders into the tapestry of fiction.

Another gem was Tales of long Ago – wondrous fables of ancient Greece, the Arabian nights, Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sinbad.

These gentle and ageless tales can inspire both an interest in literature in its early splendours and also the history of the ancient world from which they spring.

The tale of how the Peacock came to have its tail enchants me to this day, along with Pandora and her whispering box; Midas and the touch of gold; The Wings of Icarus and sad tale of Echo and Narcissus.

All can be found in other literary forms, but their simple re-telling by Blyton gave them a simple magic and held the reader in their gentle rhythm.

But, what of Blyton in 2001 – the 21st century Blyton with all the neutrality of language that our world now demands.

To browse the web and find new editions of Blyton is easy, but to experience the original versions first is to understand her style and the joys that it brought.

I commend a site to you that tells better than I of the differences, the link is in the section below, by the Book Jotter.

The author in this excellently written review of one of Blyton’s books and contrasts and compares the grammar and descriptive text of the originals and the modern day editions.

So – see what you make of Enid Blyton; find again the enchantments and stories that touched your childhood or indeed discover her afresh as a new literary experience in 2011.

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4 comments

CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

I can remember eagerly reading the adventures of the secret seven and famous five- her stories recount a life that is sadly lost forever in the mists of time


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

My god-father sent Enid Blyton's books from England to my parents in Canada to give to me. I enjoyed them, though even at that age I found her work a touch 'goody-goody' but, as has been suggested, perhaps it was the voice of her time. I wonder. I'm no spring chicken myself, and even in the early 1960's, I felt her work expressed more words from an adult speaking to children as she thought they should be, not as they were.

I am also of the generation that was raised with the idea that girls did some things and boys another. It was a subtle but universal message that took many years of effort to overthrow. It's easy to denigrate those calling for more political correctness in the writing for children, and suddenly fashionable to mock anything liberal, but let's take a good look at those insidious messages and their effects before we shrug it off. My own children (both girls) thought her work boring and dated. Perhaps a little update might be a good thing and re-popularize the good side of her stories for a new generation, as long as the originals are still available for reading when children are old enough to understand times and attitudes have changed.


Stephen Isabirye 5 years ago

I as a child grew up reading Enid Blyton's books as a child. Yes, it is true that some of her ideas may now be dated as time inevitably suggests. However, as far as health and the environmentis concerned, her contributions are immortal. For instance, in Five On Kirrin Island Again, long before former US Vice-President was born, Uncle Quentin discussed his efforts to his daughter, Georgeina (George) while in captivity of trying to find alternatives to the three current pollutants, namely, coal, coke and oil. These environment issues long discussed in the first edition of Five On Kirrin Island Again are still very pertinent today. In a couple of Fiamous Five books such as Five Go To Billycock Hill, Five Go To Demon's Rocks and Five Are together Again, she discusses characters such as Uncle quentin and Professor Hayling losing their memories ie. not remembering their loved ones, forgetting their breakfasts, forgetting where they put their newspapers, aspects that reflected Enid Blyton's memory loses, which we technically call nowadays, Alzheimer's/Dementia. Yes it is true that Enid Blyton may not have been the first person to attempt diagnosing Alzheimer's, however, the public prefer reading such aspects via novelist rather than a doctor, whose technical jargon could be very difficult to comprehend. I discuss some of these aspects pertianing to Blytonian literature in my book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).

Stephen Isabirye


dragonbear profile image

dragonbear 5 years ago from Essex UK Author

Thanks for the comments folks... I hope the innocence of that age does not die entirely, children now seem to lose that innocence so soon, if ever knowing it.

In many aspects the age in which we live today is to only be welcomed.

Blyton was a controversy and indeed was very much of her time. I make no great case either way, other than to remember the joy and pleasure I personally felt from the books I encountered in my childhood and which remain on my bookshelves today. I still think of Pip the Fairy and saucepans every time I see the Acorns appear!

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