Yesterday was Enid Blyton’s 122nd birthday, she was born on August 11, 1897, and I am grateful for the magical worlds she transported us to. My childhood was full of Enid Blyton books, I clearly remember my first Blyton was a Noddy book, I was in love with stories about a wooden toy who ran away from a wood carver’s home and landed in Toyland. Being an adventure and mystery buff I loved her Secret Seven and Famous Five book series and looked for adventure in everyday life. Anybody who stayed and studied in boarding schools will definitely identify with Malory Towers and St. Clare’s and Naughtiest Girl series. I remember the fights we had in the school library to get our hands on the next book of a particular series, to continue reading sagas of children just like us growing up and living their lives. When Blyton passed away, it was as if she left a part of her soul in The Magic Faraway Tree, The Enchanted Wood, The Island Of Adventure and in hundreds of books that she wrote.
Enid Blyton wrote some 700 books and sold more than 600 million copies, which have never gone out of print, have been translated into 90 languages, and have enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations.
Enid Blyton wrote some 700 books and sold more than 600 million copies, which have never gone out of print, and have been translated into 90 languages and they have enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations. She died in Hampstead on 28 November 1968.
I was sad to read when her daughter Imogen Smallwood wrote in her memoir A Childhood at Green Hedges in 1989, “The truth is, Enid Blyton was 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 did not hate her. I pitied her.” But Imogen’s daughter Sophie, Enid’s granddaughter, somewhat salvaged her reputation when she said in 2009, “Her writing is that of an intelligent 12-year-old. In my view that’s why adults find it difficult to relate to her because she doesn’t quite have the depth; it has that childlike quality.” And I agree. Since Blyton wrote for children, I don’t understand the critiquing of her work by adults. I think we should ask the kids and her forever fans like me about what her writing means to us. Her times belonged to much simpler times, and that appealed to me as a young reader.
Even though some might think her books were no good, yet she endures, my world revolved around her books, they helped develop my fertile imagination. So, why are her books still read again? They are read in a spirit of enormous nostalgia that talk of the values of friendship, fairness and freedom in times that has become more self-centred.
I want to jot down a few things I learnt from her books. And yes, I still believe in her world she created, I hope my daughter does too! So here goes…
Breaking the rules once in a while is okay
Rules are meant to be broken, right? I say yes, Enid Blyton supports me. For if we don’t break rules how will we get the chance to know what could happen? The stories of The Famous Five and Secret Seven put thier young protagonists in situations and places which were forbidden for them, but that didn’t stop them from saving the day.
The Famous Five are a perfect example of a family team, where siblings and cousins protect one another from trouble.
Siblings and cousins are the best people to have on your team
Did somebody say sibling squabbles? Yup, they will always be there but remember the bond never dies. Julian, Dick, George and Anne had their quarrels once in a while but they always had each other’s backs. The Famous Five are a perfect example of a family team, where siblings and cousins protect one another from trouble.
Picnics are always a fun option for outings with friends
Could there be anything better than having a face to face conversation with friends, and where could it be better than going out for a picnic with friends. Imagine how much fun it would be to have a picnic in peaceful outdoorsy setting. Enid Blyton made picnics such an attractive option. I feel sad when I see today’s kids’ preference of hanging out with friends at a café or movie or even sitting together and staring into their respective smartphones.
When talking of picnics can food be far behind
I can never get over the descriptions of sandwiches, scones, strawberries and cream, tongue and lettuce rolls, jam tarts, fruit cake, ginger beer and lemonade mentioned in most of the stories by her they were so mouth-watering. Too bad we didn’t know what it tastes like then. But let me give out a secret, during my US visit some years back I wanted to try out lemonades at the various places we visited, and my spouse would stare at me which said ‘really? Yes, I realised I still had the Enid Blyton hangover.
In her stories of Noddy and Big Ears, Barney ‘R’ Mysteries and the girls at Malory Towers, all her characters came from different backgrounds and had odd personalities but they all got along.
Diversity makes life interesting
Wouldn’t you agree with that, don’t such people make life a lot more fun? In her stories of Noddy and Big Ears, Barney ‘R’ Mysteries and the girls at Malory Towers, all her characters came from different backgrounds and had odd personalities but they all got along the best. I looked forward to such storylines in her novels and I must say they made interesting reading.
Life in a boarding school seems fun
Many of Blyton’s works were based on adventures in boarding schools. I have lived in a boarding school I often got inspired by the many tricks of Elizabeth Allen, the protagonist from The Naughtiest Girl. Her parents had sent her to Whyteleafe, a school with Socialist tendencies that strips her of her foolish pride.It was interesting to read the transformation of Elizabeth Allen from being a spoiled brat to becoming a sensible and loving schoolgirl.
Dogs round up the team best
I love dogs, did Enid Blyton have to do something with it? I loved the part of Timmy, Scamper and Loony some of the canine characters in Enid Blyton’s stories. I loved the description when the dogs went after hares and rabbits, digging into their holes. But they were also shown as the silent voice of reason while staying by the side of the children and protecting them from potential danger. How I longed for such dogs.
Can you imagine solving a mystery or just enjoying school all by yourself? I don’t think so. What can be more stimulating than to be able to do things in the company of friends who will always be there for you no matter what.
Working alone is no fun, work with a team instead
Can you imagine solving a mystery or just enjoying school all by yourself? I don’t think so. What can be more stimulating than to be able to do things in the company of friends who will always be there for you no matter what. Enid Blyton gave me BFF goals like no other.
Be ready for consequences
Blyton was all for fun, but amidst all the fun and adventure, she never encouraged misbehaviour of children towards their parents, teachers or elders. In all the books that I have read, each time a child disobeyed their parent or did something naughty in school their actions boomeranged.
Smita Singh is an editor with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are her own.