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.

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