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Lashings of Pop

September 22, 2010

A journey into the world of Enid Blyton

My children have arrived at the magical age where Enid Blyton books feature heavily in the bedtime story ritual.

Being the eldest of 6 kids, I don’t recall too many things that my mum had time to do with us, but I have very vivid and fond memories of cold winter nights huddled around the fire where she opened the world of the Enchanted Woods, Wishing Chair, Mr Pinkwhistle, Mr Meddle, The Naughtiest Girl, Circus and Famous Five.( to name just a few)

I have a few of these books from my childhood, so decided to go online and ‘buy the lot.’ What a shock I had.

Would you like to hazard a guess as to how many books Enid Blyton wrote? Remembering that she started to publish in the 1920s and wrote consistently till her death in the late 1960s……

Depending on the source you quote, her published works range between 800 and 1000, not including magazine publications.. She wrote prolifically for 45 years; having sold over 600 million copies of her works.

Its said that she regularly produced 10,000 words a day. Averaging it out, she published 18 books a year. She remains one of the most read childrens author with over 3000 translations. As a writer, those numbers astound me.

I recall the Blyton Bans and being confused as a child as to why libraries did not stock one of the most famous childrens writers of all time. Racial and sexism issues still rear their heads in connection to her work; but similarly to any historical work, it must be read and taken in context of the societal norms of the day.

Thankfully, Enid is back on the shelves. Her works have been modernised to a point – exclamations of “how queer!” and “ooh, it’s such a gay day!” have been updated to “how weird!” and “ooh, it’s such a bright day!” “Headmistress” changed to “Teacher” and ‘pop’ to “softdrink”. With most editing, the changes will be fairly innocuous, unless you are a die hard Enid Blyton Fan. Personally, I think alot of the charm of her stories lay within the language utilised.

Despite what is said, her stories remain popular. The main characters – both male and female are unafraid to stand up to bullies, ruffians, gypsies,or other children who were being unkind or unfair. There is a universal theme of mateship/ friendship, that strong moral fibre of doing the right thing which perhaps is missing in a number of modern day tales.

Her main audience are aged under 12 years old where the younger children taking delight with tales of magical folk and silly creatures making mistakes or meddling in things they aught not. Older children are entranced by the adventure and slightly exotic nature of the stories. The fact that children want escapism, not true-life tales, can been seen in the sales figures for Harry Potter – and similar themed books. There will always be a place for Enid Blyton in my library, though; having found out how many books she has published, perhaps I need a larger room.
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Annie Evett believes there are many many good reasons to have kids. Rediscovering gems like this is one of them. Follow Annie’s shameless self promotions here on Twitter  or here on Audio Boo and start your escape into her world here
  1. Xyzzy permalink
    September 22, 2010 2:19 am

    I looked Enid Blyton up after hearing about her a few years back, and was more than a little shocked at just how prolific she was… “The lot”, as you put it, were floating around a then-existing sharing site, so I had a good bit of fun using some of her “away at school” type books as intermittent time-wasters. I would think that the questionable language would actually be perfect for showing kids how word meanings & popular terms change over time, as an early step towards the literary works they’ll have to read later in academic life.

    PS. As a lot of juvenile & YA fiction fans will cheerily tell you, no need to have kids just to delve into books/stories aimed at them — just like we don’t need to reproduce/adopt/babysit in order to own a video game machine. 😉

  2. September 22, 2010 7:31 am

    I don’t care how “old-fashioned” they may be, I love Enid Blyton. The “Adventure” series is my favourite (especially The Castle of Adventure). Always wanted Kiki.

  3. September 22, 2010 9:28 pm

    The Enid Blyton books (we’ve got large reprints with HUGE pictures in them) were taken down for the first time this year. And my six year old son loved every moment of them – including, surprisingly, the language. We’d ask him what he enjoyed most… thinking it would be a character or some crazy adventure (hell, I want to live in a tree with a Slippery-Slip) – but no, it was the way in which the characters in the Far Away Tree spoke.

    For those fantasy type books, the slightly ‘off’ and antiquated language is totally fitting – perhaps not so much for something like The Famous Five books. I read them in the 70s and never thought for a moment the language was out dated… I merely accepted it as part of the text.

    And between 800-1000 books! I’m Gobsmacked!! Guessing we’ll be ready Enid for many, many more years to come in this household (and loving every minute of it!)

    Hats off to lashing of ginger pop and exploding toffee.

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