Enid Blyton (England, 1897-1968)

Figure 1.--Most of Enid Blyton's stories were set in England, but a few were also set in Scotland. Notice the patterns on the top of the boys kneesocks, a style that was last seen in the 1940s. This story was set during World War II. he illustrator was C. Holland.

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 separate.


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 infants' school.

Writing Career Begins

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.

Personal Life

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 School.

Full-Length Adventure Stories

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 nationwide.

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 Kidillin.

New Marriage

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.

Enid Blyton Magazine

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 London.


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.

Figure 2.-- 'Playtime' was originally titled 'Sports and Games' before it's title changed. It seems to be published around 1932. The boy is wearing white strapshoes. This seems to be unusual for boyswear (whilst playing sport - in full school uniform) but it could just be artistic license of the illustrator. It also appears that Enid Blyton also liked the colours red and blue, here the red school blazers and blue pants.

New Readers

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.

Later Years

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.

The Books

Enid Blyton books are about children in jeopardy, children empowered, children winning through. Enid Blyton is still the world's greatest storyteller for children.

Adventure Stories

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.

Famous Five

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.

Secret Seven

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.

Other Books

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."

Figure 3.--Many Enid Blyton editions do not list the illustrator. This illustration is from "Mischief at St. Rollo's". These children are being taken to the store to buy uniforms for their new boarding school. The edition I have is 1976, but it was first printed much earlier.