Saturday, April 05, 2014

E has to be for Enid Blyton

1897 – 1968

I cannot imagine my childhood without her. For a long time I thought she was a ‘he’ called Gnid Blyton. She is Enid Blyton.

I then lived in a rather congested city area where houses were stacked close together and green garden patches were rare treats. We did, however, have endless open terraces stretching across houses. Sitting there dreaming over my homework I would lose myself in Enid Blyton.

She became my favourite companion as together we followed Jo, Bessy and Fanny up the Faraway tree dodging Mrs Washalot’s deluge, sliding down Moonface’s Slippery Slip or gasping from the cold water the Angry Pixie threw at us. 

We picnicked on the wide green moors with Julian, Dick, George and Anne when I wasn’t even sure whether moors were people or places or both. I could almost savour Aunt Fanny’s fruitcake and plums from Kirrin Cottage and wash it all down with cool lemonade. Some days we’d clamber onto the wishing chair with Peter, Molly and Chinky and fly away to far off lands.

And of course there was school. Malory Towers, St Clairs! I’d watch a game of Lacrosse though I could barely pronounce it forget figuring out what it was. I learnt from Irene that music and maths go together. I rolled in laughter at mam’zelle’s English and was inspired by Alicia’s pranks

Oh it was all so much fun. Enid Blyton was all of that and more.


Boy she was prolific

At the peak of her career she was writing 50 books a year. She would start writing after breakfast and continue till 5 in the evening stopping only for a short lunch. She did, on an average 6000 to 10,000 words a day. There were rumours that she had a team of ghost writers because people found it difficult to believe that one woman could write so much. She even took legal action against a librarian who had said so and won the case.
She said the stories flowed from her imagination without her needing to think about them. She didn’t believe in research of any kind and wrote simply from her imagination. She would often have a red shawl draped around her knees. She felt the colour red provided stimulation to her mind.

Her life

Sadly, she didn’t have a very happy childhood. She loved her father very much but he left the family to live with another woman. She was heartbroken. She didn’t get along with her mother who disapproved of her writing. Later she wasn’t much of a mother herself to her two daughters.  

And there's more bad coming.

She was said to be a ruthless self promoter. Her understanding of marketing and branding were way ahead of her times. She looked into each aspect of her books including the designing. It was she who insisted all her books have that trademark signature. She didn’t shy away from using her daughters for publicity and they were brought out to be 'displayed' to her fans. Her daughter Imogen writes in her (Blyton's) biography that she was ‘without a trace of maternal instinct’.
However, her fans were her real family. Her books had everything that her own life didn’t.

But there are detractors of her work too..

… plenty of them. Her books were allegedly unchallenging and without literary merit. She has been termed ‘elitist’ (George from Famous Five owned an island), sexist (Check out this remark made by Julian for George, ‘You may look like a boy and behave like a boy, but you’re a girl all the same. And like it or not, girls have got to be taken care of') and racist (Golliwogs were often depicted as the ‘bad’ ones).
Critics called her plots unimaginative and repetitive. Schools banned her books in the 60s and BBC refused to broadcast her works!!

And yet she has survived..

It cannot possibly be all marketing, can it? A magical world on top of a tree, a chair with wings, toys that came to life at night – heck an entire Toyland, pixies, fairies, elves and goblins… unimaginative?? Nah!
As for the repetition.. I loved it. I waited for it. Come on, kids love repetition. Not for nothing have I told the same stories to my twins countless times.. sometimes even back to back.

You get the idea? I WILL NOT listen to anything against her. And so millions of young ones and the not so young ones, continue to adore her books making her one of the widest selling authors ever.

Some of her books have been 'polished' to make them suitable for the 21st century. What do you think, people? Would you prefer a 'polished' Blyton for your kids? Think about that.

Meanwhile, I'm off to paint my house red.. maybe then a book will happen.

Oh yes the clue for tomorrow - She's a lady (again!), she doesn't have the quintessential pretty heroine, in fact she's definitely overweight, and (this is the giveaway clue) her heroine's in love with Mr Darcy. Come now tell me.
**********

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.


Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

63 comments:

  1. I love Enid Blyton...I have grown up with Famous Five literally !

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    1. Famous Five and Noddy are among my favourites too.

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  2. I loved Enid Blyton's Famous Five when I was young! And I also know about her not-so-nice personal side - but it doesn't take away from her art! :)
    (new follower)
    Lexa Cain’s Blog

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  3. It is good that you combine your appreciation for a particular author with some key details about their life, work and critical review of their writing. For some reason, I was never much into Enid Blyton....o well :)

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  4. I graduated from comics to books with Enid Blyton's books. Had never known about her life. Thanks to you, got to know so much about her.

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  5. Visiting from AtoZ
    I'm writing "Things My Husband Broken" atoz
    Kimberly
    http://AMomsPointOfView.com

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  6. Enid Blyton is the reason I became a bookworm. For all of the reasons listed above. And I smiled and nodded along with every line of your memories. Do you know I recently purchased the entire St.Clares collection for a bargain?! And read them all over again. Sad to know about her childhood. No, I wouldn't change her books to be politically correct. I grew up just fine and balanced on the original works. Today, your post goes on my recommendation list :)

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    1. Thank you Shailaja... Such an honour.

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  7. Enid Blyton had a tough life in real world but it never came across in her reel world. I love her absolutely for giving me such splendid years in childhood, for memories of faraway land, enchanted woods, ginger ale, Moon Face, The Famous Five and the list can go on and on. I still, to date, pick of one of her books to run away from the troubles and into the magical world.

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    1. Glad to meet another fan. She is the best.

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  8. I grew up with Enid Blyton's books. I've read all of them. In the school series, I loved Claudine at St.Clare's so much. Then there were the early books with a moral - in one of them, there is the story of a girl called Matilda. Then about the boy who left his tools out in the rain...What lovely memories!

    I could still read an Enid Blyton book and be enthralled. I have the entire digital collection.

    Hugs, Tulika!

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    1. Haven't read the one about the boy Vidya. But considering she was so prolific it's impossible to have read them all.

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  9. I grew up on Enid Blyton and her books on adventure. Still have them!

    Damyanti Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2014, Latest post on Daily (w)rite
    Twitter: @damyantig
    #atozchallenge

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    1. I guess we all did Damayanti. She was such fun.

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  10. I used to read Enid Blyton's book and for days dream about experiencing similar adventures.

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    1. Me too.. They seemed so possible, isn't it?

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  11. As everyone else said Enid is my childhood!!!!! Without her, i could have never imagined things.. Btw I still think my tomboy attitude came from George ;)

    Stri

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  12. Like all the people who have commented above, I was an Enid Blyton fan too. Her books Malory Towers and Famous Five were my favorites. We used to borrow the books from library and spend the entire summer reading the series. :)

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    1. Me too me too. She was such a part of our summers.

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  13. It came to me as a surprise when I came to know that Enid Blyton was a woman. She indeed was an important part of my growing up years. Your post reminded me some beautiful memories

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    1. I'm glad it did. Those are precious memories.

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  14. I loved Enid Blyton and had all of the collection.. Everything she had writted :)

    PhenoMenon
    http://throodalookingglass.com/2014/04/extraordinary-exciting-experiences/

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    1. You lucky man!! We had depend almost completely on our school library.

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  15. 6000 - 10,000 words! are u kidding me!? I feel so embarrassed right now... i havent written that much in a month!

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  16. Malory Towers and The Twins at St. Claire's were my favourite books back then. Yay for Enid Blyton.

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    1. Oh yes she deserves the cheers for sure. Thanks for reading Suzy.

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  17. I adore Enid Blyton's books --- Faraway tree, Malory Towers, St Clares, Five find outers --- I loved them all!! I wanted to go to boarding school because of Malory Towers & St. Clare's. I too prefer to ignore the negative stuff about her books and writing. Having said that, apparently as a person, she was quite the narcissist and self-involved.

    As for tomorrow's author --- is it the author of Bridget Jones?? (Cannot remember her name!)

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    1. Brilliant PB... Right you are. Did Darcy do the trick or was it the 'overweight' bit?

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  18. I have a few of her books in my study, your post has me going in to get them off of the shelves and re visit my favorite carefree happy days, thank you.

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    1. Now you know how difficult it was for me to finish the posts? I was continuously reaching out for the books from each of the authors.

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  19. It sounds like her books were a staple of childhood. Too sad that her childhood left something to be desired and probably also why she didn't have any maternal instincts if she had no real good example in her own mother.

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    1. I think she put down all her childhood desires in her books. Kind of sad for a children's author to not love her own kids.

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  20. Every famous person has to pay the price of greatness for sure...you are right for her her readers were her real family...this is quite informative

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    1. Thank you Shellymona. Hope to see you around.

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  21. Tulika, you absolute beauty!! If I had to choose one author, EB would be IT!! She is the reason I and most of my friends grew up to love reading. There are so many comments I want to make on your post but perhaps that's best saved for another day. I don't care what sort of a person she was supposed to be in real life, the magical worlds she created are all I am concerned with. Thanks for this fab post and look forward to reading about Helen Fielding tomorrow. :)

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    1. Hmmm so you guessed.. Good job! And thanks for making my day with such sweet words.

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  22. Ah - Enid Blyton - I would wonder why was it such a 'beautiful sunny day'. If you grew up in south of India, or anywhere in India, sun was just taken for granted. She created an idyllic world on English countryside amongst children of a different generation thousands of miles away. I plan to pick up An Enid Blyton this weekend for bedside reading to revel in some nostalgia. Look forward to your features on other authors.

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    1. Jayanthi thank you for dropping by. Hope you keep enjoying the posts.

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  23. Thank you for much for making me aware of this author. I definitely want to check her out. You wrote a tender and informative post

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  24. We all were on a Blyton diet as children, and never tired of it ! Every now and then Buster would come running for his treat, or Fatty will rum about in a disguise :D And hey, isn't that Darrell and Sally up there ? :) Lovely treat, Tulika !! :)

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  25. I think if it was anything else we all would have rebelled :D

    Richa

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    1. ... And that I cannot have. It had o be her Richa.

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  26. You have provided here a very good piece of information. I haven't read her but have watched the famous 'Famous Five' Series! And was completely in love with them. Had a good time reading about her life. My sister has read her.... She used to talk about 'the faraway tree'. She is a fan of this wonderful Author :)

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    1. I'd like to catch up with your sister then.

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  27. The Faraway Tree and the lands that keep changing on top of it - loved them!!! The tree had such colorful characters, my favorites were Dame Washalot and the Angry Goblin who kept throwing ink at people!!

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    1. Mine too... they were all just wonderful.

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  28. I loved EB and my mother very thoughtfully saved all my childhood hardbacks for me. I now have two girls of my own and have tried reading them to them. They don't seem to be able to love her the same way that I did and my eldest when about 8 was positively disgusted by some of the sexist comments in one of the books. Her horror was hysterical.

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  29. Enid Blyton was my life, I still hope that someday I will visit a land atop the Magic Faraway tree :) yes, I used to think t was Gnid Blyton too til my sister pointed it out.

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  30. My husband read Enid Blyton when he was younger (he's British), but I've never read her.

    Marie at www.marie-everydaymiracle.blogspot.com

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  31. I was reminded of my daughter who loves enid blyton ...

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  32. Hi Tulika,
    It was really a joy reading your brilliant piece about Enid Blyton. You were factual, gave a balanced view and were to the point. We need more writers like you!
    Enid Blyton did indeed write from her imagination, but there’s more to this statement than this simple assertion. In my forthcoming book: Enid Blyton – The Untold Story, readers will get a full understanding of where her stories really came from. This is stated in the chapter: Enid Blyton – The Professional Storyteller. The book deals almost exclusively with facts about her extraordinary professional life that are not generally known. More information can be found by visiting my website:
    www.enidblytonbio.co.uk
    Finally, if you write so brilliantly about Enid Blyton, then I imagine that you’ll succeed in any other type of writing you put your hands to. So there’ll be no need to paint your house red for a book to come (smile) – it will come naturally because you’re a gifted writer.
    Looking forward to reading more of your writing.
    Brian Carter

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  33. I just adore Enid Blyton and fell in love with her land and people through her books. I wanted to be be Elizabeth Allen of the daughty girl series for a long time and in my dreams went on adventures with the famous five and the secret seven.
    Thinking about introducing her books to my five year old son..

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  34. This was a nice read Tulika. :) like almost everyone has said, I have grown up with her books, still read them, and what more, my work deal with her too :) talk of loyalty.. :)

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    1. Your work? What do you do? I want some part of it.

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