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The tragic world of Enid Blyton and her wonderful books - Age wise suggested reading of her many series

Updated on January 3, 2012
Blue plaque on the site of Enid Blyton's home in East Dulwich.
Blue plaque on the site of Enid Blyton's home in East Dulwich. | Source

It would be impossible to have grown up in the second half of the last century without having read at least some of the works of this brilliant author called Enid Blyton. She was the one who introduced you to the little magical places at the end of the garden where the fairies lived when you were young.

It was her again who told you about the joys of having a mid night feast at a boarding school. Not to mention the adventures that could be had on an island just off the coast. She was the one who introduced you to secret clubs with passwords and badges. And it was her again when it you read about the magical far away tree.

The sheer volume of her work had people wondering how one single person could write so many books and stories. Born on 11 August 1897 Enid Blyton continued writing for the period of 1922–1968. She wrote right up to her death on 28 November 1968. She was 71 when she passed away leaving behind a rich heritage in kids' literature.

Ten Fun Facts

1. She also wrote under the pen name of Mary Pollock.

2. She was the eldest of three siblings. Both the younger siblings were brothers.

3. Her father was a cutlery salesman.

4. She was a talented pianist but gave it up to train as a teacher. She taught for five years while she wrote on the side.

5. Her first book was a collection of poems called Child Whispers and was published in 1922.

6.She married Major Hugh Alexander Pollock, an editor at the firm that published her first book

7. They had two children, daughters Gillian and Imogen.

8. She divorced Major Hugh Alexander Pollock to marry a doctor, Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters.

9. Her books have been translated into 90 different languages.

10. Her books have sold more than 600 million copies and she still features in the top ten selling authors in this decade.

Her Body of Written Work

The Number
Type of Work
186
novels/novelettes
243
character books
896
short story series books
267
education books
179
recreation books
164
continuation books
284
Enid Blyton contributions
Source -http://www.enidblyton.net/

The Tragedy That Was Her Life

While much is said about her brilliance as an author for books for children, till recently not much was known about the woman herself. At the age of 13 when her parents divorced she was shattered. Sophie Smallwood, Enid Blyton's granddaughter from daughter Imogen said that, "I don't think she really had a model to follow because her own mother was so hard on her. They didn't have a meeting of minds. Her mother wanted a dutiful daughter and she wanted to write."

Enid Blyton's fans were suddenly confronted with a very different image when Imogen Smallwood decided to publish her autobiography, A Childhood at Green Hedges. All of a sudden the wonderful Ms Blyton was no longer so wonderful, she was a bully, she was adulterous, she was not a considerate mother and she was very selfish.

Imogen's memoir was published when Sophie was aged16. She says felt proud of her mother's decision to challenge the typical Blyton family image. "It was very fair and insightful. I think too it must have been very difficult to show the truth rather than accepting the assumption of a perfect mother because of the way that Enid wrote."

Note - Source of quotes is the Guardian

Enid Blyton Series

3 to 5 years

Personally I always preferred her series to her single stories. Of course the most popular one ever has to be the Noddy series.Noddy is a little wooden boy who ended up in Toyland. His friend is Big Ears who is a friendly brownie. He lives in a house for one and drives a car as a taxi. The series has been televised as an animated version. New stories, which are not written by Enid Blyton, have also been added to the televised animated series.

The Wishing Chair Series is a set of just three books, but they are lovely. Two siblings Mollie and Peter find this wishing chair at an antiques shop which seems to be run by fairly folk. They find that the wishing chair can grow wings and fly away. They keep it in their nursery at home and even rescue a pixie called Chinky using its powers. They have amazing adventures going to different lands with the pixie on the wishing chair.

"Fatty"

Frederick Algernon Trotteville is an only child who gets a great deal of pocket money from his parents. The stout boy is given the nickname Fatty as his initials also add up to FAT!

The list of books in the series

1. The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage (1943)
2. The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat (1944)
3. The Mystery of the Secret Room (1945)
4. The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters (1946)
5. The Mystery of the Missing Necklace (1947)
6. The Mystery of the Hidden House (1948)
7. The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat (1949)
8. The Mystery of the Invisible Thief (1950)
9. The Mystery of the Vanished Prince (1951)
10. The Mystery of the Strange Bundle (1952)
11. The Mystery of Holly Lane (1953)
12. The Mystery of the Tally-Ho Cottage (1954)
13. The Mystery of the Missing Man (1956)
14. The Mystery of the Strange Messages (1957)
15. The Mystery of Banshee Towers (1961)

6 to 9 years

The Five Find-outers and Dog series is also known as the Mystery Series, but I prefer the first name. This series revolves around a group of children in the fictitious village of Peterswood. Larry and his younger sister Daisy are friends with Pip, who is the same age as Daisy and his younger sister Bets. A new comer to the neighborhood is Fatty and Buster is his black Scottish terrier. There are a total of 15 books in the series and Mr Goon, or old Clear Orf is the local village policeman who is outwitted by this gang of five kids in solving mysteries in the village.

The Mistletoe Farm Series is not the most popular of her books but personally I loved the stories of the six cousins. It is a short two book series. In the first book the three farm cousins suddenly have three city cousins coming to live with them because their home in London burned down. The story goes through its paces as the six children in the same house manage to come to terms with each other. The second book sees the city cousins getting another farm close by along with their parents. A very human drama that we can all relate to.

The Magic Faraway Tree Series is one for a total getaway from the real world. Jo, Bessie, and Fanny move to a house near the woods. One day while exploring the woods they find a tree whose branches seem to go beyond the clouds. As they begin climbing the tree they come face to face with a number of magical beings who live in the tree. These include Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, Mr. Watzisname and the Angry Pixie. At the top of the tree is a ladder which can take them to different magical lands.

The Galliano's Circus Series is probably the culmination of a number of kids desires to actually live at the circus. Leave it up to Enid Blyton to engage you in the day to day activities of the circus while showing you that its not all glamor and plenty of hard work. This set of three books deals with the life of Jimmy Brown, his parents, his dog Lucky and other friends of his who work in the circus like Lotta who rides the horses.

The Secret Series is a set of five books. Jack, Peggy, Nora and Mike run away to hide on an island from their strict guardians when their parents are presumed dead in a plane crash. The island is on their own property and the children proceed to construct a living house made out of willow branches. Eventually they return home when they discover that their parents were not dead and they were hunting for them frantically. The remaining four books takes them on adventures to different locations.

The Adventure Series comprises of eight novels based on the four children Philip, Jack, Dinah, and Lucy-Ann. This series shows the set of two brothers and sisters going about solving all kinds of mysteries and having adventures all by themselves. There is also the dark influence of the war on the books with the character of Bill Cunningham, who is described as an inspector of an unspecified, quite possibly fictional secret service force. Most of the mysteries that the children solve revolve around Bill's work.

10 to 12 years

I remember it was The Secret Seven Series that caused us to make our own Secret Seven club when I was in school. The Secret Seven are Peter (the leader), Janet (Peter's sister), Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin. There are also Jack's sister Susie and her best friend Binkie who are not a part of the secret seven and hate them. They try to make life difficult for them by playing pranks on the Secret Seven Society. This is a set of 14 books, and unlike the Five Find-outers series the action takes place during school days as the children go to day schools and not boarding schools.

The Famous Five Series is probably her best loved and definitely her best selling series. It is based on the adventures of cousins Julian, Dick, Anne and Georgina (George) and her dog Timothy, also called Tim. Enid Blyton once admitted that George was based on a girl she knew, and later she admitted that the character of the tomboy was based on her. While Enid Blyton had originally only planned a series of 8 to 10 books the demand of fans made her write 21 books.

The Malory Towers Series and The St Clairs Series gave me a yen to go to boarding school. Thank God my parents did not give in to my demands to be sent away. Both were a set of six books dealing with each successive year at the boarding school when they come in as freshers and leave as the senior most class. Darrel Rivers is the heroine of the Malory Towers series and the name does seem inspired from the name of Enid Blyton's second husband Kenneth Darrell Waters. The series follows the short tempered girl as she begins to mature and develop into a good individual. In the St Clairs Series we follow the adventures of the sisters Patricia "Pat" and Isabel O'Sullivan. The twins make friends with Janet, Hillary and Alison. The series has been criticized for being rather cliched, but it was nice reading the books anyway.

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    • cashmere profile imageAUTHOR

      cashmere 

      6 years ago from India

      That is an interesting observation. Perhaps she too needed to escape to the ideal world in her books.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 

      6 years ago from Thailand

      May be Enid Blyton created the ideal family image in her books to block her not-so-perfect life. Whatever her family feels about her, to her readers, she continues to be the best writer ever.

    • cashmere profile imageAUTHOR

      cashmere 

      6 years ago from India

      I know the feeling tebo, I'm flipping through my son's collection of Noddy's!

      Made, The Famous Five are her best selling series, although I enjoy all her other series as well.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 

      6 years ago from Finland

      Enid Blyton was an amazing author. Particularly I remember reading The Famous Five Series. Thanks for writing this informative hub, cashmere.

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      After reading this hub I have an urge to read more Enid Blyton books. I'm sure I have read some and not just watched Noddy on TV. I feel a trip to the library coming on. I read avidly as a youngster, but am having trouble remembering some of these titles.

    • cashmere profile imageAUTHOR

      cashmere 

      6 years ago from India

      Peanutritious I know what you mean, I remember reading the last of the wishing chair series at the grand old age of 18, just because I had missed it before. I used to scrounge all the book shops for her books growing up.

      Polly C, I saw that documentary recently. In fact that is what inspired this hub. I feel when you are genius of such caliber it must be difficult to focus your attention on mundane ordinary things. No matter what she was like in person, she was a really talented writer who brought many children years of joyful reading

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 

      6 years ago from UK

      Great hub, I grew up reading many Enid Blyton books - I absolutely loved Malory Towers, St. Clare's, Famous Five and the Secret Seven. And when I was younger, the Faraway Tree, etc. They are books that can really ignite a child's imagination. However, now that I have children (only one old enough for the world of Enid Blyton), I must admit that I have not at all impressed upon them the joys of this prolific author. The books are still in print, but the language is rather dated and I know my son would not enjoy them. (He likes different kinds of books, though, typically 'boyish' authors.)

      A couple of years ago I watched a very insightful drama portraying the world of Enid Blyton, broadcast on the BBC. It seemed to come from the side of daughter Imogen, who did not paint her mother in a good light. It showed her in her element reading to the local children, whilst at the same time ignoring her own. Perhaps a woman who wrote so excessively and obsessively just did not have enough time left in life for her own dependants - of course, that is only one side of the story.

      However, there is no doubt that Enid Blyton enchanted more than one generation of children - most of my Famous Five books were old copies my mother had kept in the attic. Thanks for the interesting hub!

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 

      6 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Thanks for writing this. Enid Blyton gets a bad press but she brought magic to my childhood. I loved the faraway tree especially and malory towers and St clare's. I honestly devoured her books when I was a child. Noone else is quite like her. She was a one off. Voted up, beautiful, awesome and interesting!

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