Enid Blyton is probably the most successful children's author of all
time--although not the most famous. She published an amazing number of
children's or juvenile books, 600 by one account. She certainly was the most
prolific author of all time, and with over 700 books and 10,000 short stories to
her name, she is likely to remain so for years to come. Her importance is that she
wrote books that children loved to read and attracted them to books--much like
J.D. Rowlings. Blyton's most famous series was The Famous Five.
Blyton's works painted an idyllic vision of rural England and hearty Englishness
and in recent years she has been criticized for this. It is interesting that Rowlings
who also attracts children to books has been criticized for just the opposite--a
dangerous forbidding world of wizardry.
Enid's father, Thomas Blyton, was a very talented man. He painted in water
colors, wrote poetry, and dabbled with photography. After working as a
salesman he joined his two older brothers in the family "mantle warehousing"
business of Fisher and Nephew. She and her father were very close and was devastated when her mother and fathers relationship deteriorated and he left for another women. This happened when she was thirteen and highly sensitive. She felt her father rejected her as well (he continued to pay for her music lessons and private school education at St. Christopher's).
Enid's mother, Theresa Mary Hamilton, did not share many of her husband's
interests. As a result, when Enid was quite young, her parents decided to
Enid Blyton was born in London during 1897. After separating from her
husband, Theresa moved with the children to the suburb of Beckenham. It was
here Enid spent her childhood.
Enid's father set up a successful wholesale clothing business in the City of
London. He was thus able to support his family and Enid received a traditional
English private school education. She had an outstanding career at school. From her earliest childhood, Blyton had been schooled in the belief that she would eventually be a musician. She indeed was an accomplished young pianist.
Enid when she was 14 years old, however, won a children's poetry
competition and encouraged by this success began to submit articles, stories and
poems to various magazine. Her first published poem, entitled Have
You-? appeared in Nash's Magazine in 1917. Her first book,
Child Whispers, a collection of verse, appeared in 1922. This
twenty-four-page work was followed by Real Fairies: Poems (1923),
Responsive Singing Games (1923), The Enid Blyton Book of
Fairies (1924), Songs of Gladness (1924), The Zoo Book
(1924), and other books published by J. Saville and Newnes.
Blyton decided to train as a teacher so that she could support herself while
she continued writing in her spare time. She studied to be a kindergarten teacher
at Ipswich High School. She did Froebel teacher's training.
Blyton taught school for 5 years in teaching. Even which still in school, she
had both poems and articles for adults accepted by various magazines. She
experienced more and more success with her writing. She also opened her own
Blyton greatly enjoying her work with children and decided to become a
children's writer. When the literary commitments increased, Blyton devoted
herself entirely to writing. In 1926 Blyton took on the editing a new magazine for
children, Sunny Stories. Her stories, plays, and songs for Teachers'
World gained popularity among teachers, who used them for their lessons.
She also compiled a children's encyclopedia, but it was not until in the 1930s,
when her stories started to attract a wider audience.
Blyton in 1924 married Hugh Pollock, an editor of the book department of
George Newnes. They moved soon to Elfin Cottage, a newly built house in
Shortlands Road, Beckenhame, which Blyton eventually called her first 'real
home'. In 1929 they moved to 'Old Thatch', a large 16th-century cottage, close
to the River Thames at Bourne End in Buckinghamshire. The house, that was to
be associated with Blyton for the rest of her life, was Green Hedges, built of red
brick with black and white half-timbered gables, in Beaconsfield, a small town
about 25 miles from London.
Blyton in the mid-1930s Blyton experienced a spiritual crisis, but she
decided not to convert to Roman Catholicism because she had felt it was "too
constricting". Although she rarely attended church services, she saw that her two
daughters were baptized into the Anglican faith and went to the local Sunday
Blyton published her first FullLength children's adventure story for older
children, The Secret Island, in 1934. The idea of a fast-moving story,
woven around familiar characters, proved to be so successful. Over the next six
years, almost all of her major series were begun. The most popular became
The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, the Adventure
series, The Mystery Series, and the Barney' Mystery books.
It was during this period that her career as a top children's author was
established. They soon became childhood favorites amongst children
The times as Britain moved toward World War II seemed ideally suited for
her shift in focus. During World War II, when publishing was restricted, Blyton
managed to get her works printed and ruled then in the field of juvenile literature.
In 1940 eleven books were published under her name, including "The Secret of
Spiggy Holes", which had appeared earlier in serial form in Sunny Stories,
Twenty-Minute Tales and Tales of Betsy May, both collections of
short stories, The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, and a story book annual
for the News Chronicle. The remainder were brought out by George
Newnes, who continued as Blyton's main publishers. Under the pseudonym
Mary Pollock she wrote Three Boys and a Circus and Children of
Blyton's marriage ended in 1942 and next year she married Kenneth Darrell
Waters, a middle-aged surgeon. An exploding shell at the Battle of Jutland during
World War I had permanently impaired his hearing, but helped with his hearing
aid he could pick up her speech. He was also genially interested in her work and
they shared many interests in common, including gardening.
Blyton in 1945 decided to end her column for Teachers' World. She
withdrew from Sunny Stories in 1952 and conceived of her own magazine. She
published the first edition of Enid Blyton Magazine in 1953. Regular
news was given for sponsored clubs. The Famous Five Club originated through a
series of book about the Famous Five. The first story was published in
1942 and was followed by a new title each year. The main object of the
magazine was to help the young spastic children and the special center in
Blyton in 1949 published perhaps her most controversial book, Little
Noddy Goes to Toyland. It was a seemingly innocuous story of a little toy man who always ends up in trouble and had to seek help from his Toyland friends. Its sales exceeded expectations. Other Noddy books of various sizes and types followed in rapid succession. The stories were illustrated by Van Der Beek who died suddenly in Holland in 1953. The series also produced a play and a film. "Noddy" enchanted younger children and became a household name in England. As a result it became the subject of music hall jokes and sketches.
Enid Blyton books ar of course for primary school children. Many were suitable for older primary school children, but some were especially written for new readers in the early primary school years. Here both the vocabulary and gentle storu lines were tailored or these children. Unfortunately these children are so young, that it is hard to collect useful testimonials as to how effectibe these books were. The Blyton boks were not the highly imaginative books that might imprent on young minds. Still they may have been enjoyavle reads that were useful to young readrs.
Critics began to attack Blyton in the 1950s and more so the 1960s.
Librarians in Britain imposed sanctions on her writings owing to the books'
limited vocabulary. The main target for anti-Blytons was Noddy, "the most
egocentric, joyless, sniveling and pious anti-hero in the history of British fiction".
Rumors were spread that she did not write all her stories. The "banning", which
probably has been exaggerated, did not last long. The books continued to be
stocked in book stores and sold well despite their increasing age. In
recent years Blyton's ability to encourage children to read has been recognized
generally. At the end of the 1990s, well over 300 Blyton titles were still in
print--an amazing statistic. This included editions of the Famous Five stories
linked to the popular television serialization (1995) and modern adventure games,
also based on the Famous Five series.
Blyton after reaching 60 decided in 1959 to cease publishing her Enid
Blyton Magazine, primarily to reduce her work load. In the early 60s, she
found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on writing. Her husband passed
away in 1967. During the months that followed, her own illness grew
progressively worse. Blyton passed away peacefully in her sleep on November
28, 1968, at a Hampsted nursing home.
Enid Blyton books are about children in jeopardy, children empowered,
children winning through. Enid Blyton is still the world's greatest storyteller for
I'm not sure just what was included in this series. One of the charming
stories was the The Children of Kidillin set in Scotland during World War
II. Another story was Mischief at St. Rollo's where a brother and sister
are sent to a coed boarding school.
Another famous English literary character was really a group of five--four
children and a dog. The central characters are Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and
the dog Timmy. This was a children's series created by famed children's writer
Enid Blyton, one of Britain's best-loved children's authors. It was one of the most
popular series of children's books in England and America. The series began in
1942 and were translated into many languages. The boys were commonly
costumed in period clothes, jumpers, short trousers, and sandals. Blyton
published 21 volumes in the series. The first was published in 1942. I'm not sure
when the last one was published.
The Secret Seven is another group of English children created by Enid
Blyton. The books are about a secret club with official meetings and everything.
The club members were Peter, Jack, Barbara, George, Pam, Colin, Janet and of
course Scamper (the dog). These books are not great literature, in fact, English teachers one discouraged children from reading them. HBC has, however, included them because of the huge number of children who read them and Blyton's enormous ability to interest children in
books and reading.
Blyton was amazingly prolific. There were many other charming books incliding some short series. Tanmayee Bhatwadekar mentions books from The Magic Faraway Tree" series. She has The Enchanted Wood which is a 1979 Dean edition, having beautiful illustrations. Tanmayee was 12 "when I first read 'The Enchanted Wood, which had the most enchanting illustrations by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone."