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Famous Like Me > Writer > B > Enid Blyton

Profile of Enid Blyton on Famous Like Me

Name: Enid Blyton  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 11th August 1897
Place of Birth: East Dulwich, London, England, UK
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Enid Mary Blyton (August 11, 1897 – November 28, 1968) was a British children's author. She is noted particularly for numerous series of books, based on recurring characters and designed for different age groups.

Her prolific output involves mainly escapist children's fantasy, which sometimes involves the supernatural. Her books were immensely popular in Britain and Australia and have remained popular. They were translated into 40 languages, including Spanish, French, Finnish, German, Japanese and Hebrew. Translated versions became and have remained extremely popular in many parts of Europe and Asia.

Best known of her works are:

  • the Noddy books
  • The Famous Five
  • The Five Find-Outers
  • The Mystery Series
  • The Adventure Series
  • The Secret Seven
  • Malory Towers
  • The St. Clare's series
  • The Naughtiest Girl series
  • The Magic Faraway Tree series
  • The Wishing-Chair series
  • The Circus Series

She wrote hundreds of other books for young and older children—an estimate puts her total book publication at around 600 titles, not including decades of magazine writing. It is said at one point she produced 10,000 words a day. Such astonishingly prolific output led many to believe that some of her work was ghost written, but such ghost writers have not emerged.

In her last few years of life she suffered from Alzheimer's Disease, and her work rate rapidly declined almost to nothing.

Subject matter

Blyton's books managed to tap into the dreams of pre-pubertal children. The code words are 'mystery' and 'adventure'. Children are free to play and explore without adult interference, more clearly than in most authors before or since. Adult characters are usually either authority figures such as policemen, teachers, or parents, or are adversaries to be conquered by the children. The children are often self-sufficient, spending whole days, or even more than one day, away from home. This theme is taken to its extreme in The Secret Island, wherein a group of children run away from uncaring guardians to live on an island together, making a home and fending for themselves until their parents return.

Blyton's books are generally split into three types. One involves ordinary children in extraordinary situations; having adventures, solving crimes, or otherwise finding themselves in unusual circumstances. Examples include the Famous Five and Secret Seven, and the Adventure series. The second type is the boarding school story; the plots of these are usually less extraordinary than the first type, with more emphasis on the day-to-day life at a boarding school. This is the world of the midnight feast, the practical joke, and the social interaction of the various types of character that can be found at school. Examples of this type are the Mallory Towers stories, the St Clare's series, and the Naughtiest Girl books.

The third type is the fantastical. Children are typically transported into a magical world in which they meet fairies, goblins, elves, or other fantastical creatures. Examples of this type are the Wishing-Chair books and the Magical Faraway Tree.


The books are very much of their time, particularly the 1950s titles. They reflect a none-too-subtle version of Britain's class system, as in rough versus well-behaved. Undoubtedly present are some stereotypes on gender. Some argue, from a current perspective, that the portrayal of Golliwogs, amongst others, was racist. On the other hand, the Famous Five displayed a remarkably modern equality of teamwork between the sexes.

It was frequently reported, in the 1950s and also from the 1980s onwards, that various children's libraries removed some of Blyton's works from the shelves. The history of such 'Blyton bans' is confused. Some librarians certainly at times felt that Blyton's restricted use of language, a conscious product of her teaching background, militated against appreciation of more literary qualities. There was some precedent, in the treatment of L. Frank Baum's Oz books (and the many sequels, by others) by librarians in the USA in the 1930s.

Much play has been made of naive language permitting double entendre (e.g. a tendency to imagine sexual connotations, for instance, Noddy "jumping into bed" with Big Ears, another character, clearly not intended by the author). This is probably journalistic froth. This whole area is subject to urban myths and the carefree retelling in newspapers of anecdotes as factual (recycling the old press cuttings, in fact) making it somewhat difficult to discern the truth.

A more careful account of anti-Blyton attacks is given in Chapter 4 of Robert Druce's This Day Our Daily Fictions. The British Journal of Education in 1955 carried a piece by Janice Dohn, an American children's librarian, considering Blyton's writing together with authors of formula fiction, and making negative comments about Blyton's devices and tone. A 1958 article in Encounter by Colin Welch, directed against the Noddy character, was reprinted in a New Zealand librarians' periodical. This gave rise to the first rumour of a New Zealand 'library ban' on Blyton’s books, a recurrent press canard. Policy on buying and stocking Blyton's books by British public libraries drew attention in newspaper reports from the early 1960s to the end of the 1970s, as local decisions were made by a London borough, Birmingham, Nottingham and other central libraries. There is no evidence that her books' popularity ever suffered. She was defended by populist journalists, and others, although Left-wing newspapers often condemned her work - in 1966 The Guardian ran an article claiming that Blyton wrote more insidiously dangerous right-wing literature than that published by British fascist groups.

Modern reprints of some books have had changes made (such as the replacement of Golliwogs with teddy bears). This is the publishers' reaction to contemporary attitudes on racial stereotypes, and probably enforced by market conditions and pressure groups. It has itself drawn criticism from those adults who view it as tampering with an important piece of the history of children's literature. The Druce book brings up a single case of a story, The Little Black Doll, which could be interpreted as a racist message (the doll wanted to be pink) and which was turned on its head in a reprint.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Enid Blyton