August 11 – Happy Birthday Enid Blyton

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Enid Blyton, a well-loved and successful writer of children’s books, would have been 125 today. She died in 1968 at the age of 71 after having written over 800 books in roughly 40 years. She sold 600 million copies and her books were translated into 90 different languages.

If you are a boomer, and especially if you are British, you were probably raised with Enid Blyton characters starting at an early age with Noddy, Big Ears and the now notorious Golliwogs. A Golliwog (the doll in my photo)¬†can still be found today, but it¬†is now called the politically correct Golly Dolly.¬†Enid Blyton didn’t¬†invent the Golliwog character, Florence Kate Upton did¬†over a century ago,¬†but she often referred to them in her books as the¬†naughty thieves.

Most people will associate the Golliwog with Robertson’s marmalade¬†as you could claim Golly badges by collecting the tokens off their marmalade and jam¬†jars. Since 1910 Robertson & Sons¬†have given away over 20 million Golly brooches until in 2002, due to all the negativity, they reluctantly removed him from their packaging.

As a pre-teen¬†I read all of Enid¬†Blyton’s¬†“Famous Five” adventure¬†books, the five being four children and a dog,¬†and these books were responsible for my love of reading. I am sure she was a major influence on children all over the world.

The first book that she published was actually a collection of poems, Child Whispers, which was published in 1922 and from 2000 to 2010 she was still listed as a top-ten author.

So thank you Enid Blyton for your contribution to the literary world and for your major contribution to my childhood memories.


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Su Leslie

I think I might be the only child in Britain who NEVER owned or read any Enid Blyton books. My parents (I think quite rightly) regarded her work as racist, sexist and classist. Someone bought my son a Noddy book when he was little and sadly, inevitably, he loved it. When he really wanted me to read it to him, I tended to “read” my own version, and the poor kid was always a bit confused because my version wasn’t quite the same as my mother in law’s. I was really quite glad when he grew out of wanting it.

Reply to  Su Leslie

Su, I am sure there were many parents who felt the same way as yours, her books were definitely a reflection of the times in which they were written. However, I don’t ever recall feeling any of that when I read her Famous Five series, but perhaps that was because I was young and innocent. I am pleased the new editions have been changed to reflect the world of today so children can still enjoy her stories.

Su Leslie
Reply to  Penelope

It’s interesting to go back and read “kid’s” books as an adult. I remember reading The Wind in the Willows in my twenties and wondering how I’d enjoyed it as a child because it’s so misogynist!

Hi Penelope – I was a very big fan, my favourite series of stories were the Wishing Chair.

I did scan through a copy a few years ago and noticed that on of my favourite characters “Chinky” had been altered to “Chonky” or something – obviously due to the fact that the name could be offensive to some…

Reply to  Nemo Jones

Hey I didn’t know that Nemo, but I can see why. It’s funny though because these words are used so innocently really.

She was and is very well known in Denmark too – read her books during my childhood… ūüôā

Reply to  ledrakenoir

That is awesome to hear did you have the Golliwogs too?

Reply to  Penelope

No I haven’t – didn’t know the story about Florence Kate Upton – but the ‚ÄĚFamous Five‚ÄĚ adventure books very much hits in the libralies at that time… ūüôā

Being german I had to rely on those books that were translated, as I could not read in English back then. But I did read some of the adventure series (as a child you do not always have the financial option to get all the books), some of the famous five (known in Germany as Five Friends), a few books I borrowed from a childhood friend of the Malory Towers series and a few more of St. Clares (I even think the St. Clares series was my first contact).
The books were childhood friends, dragging me through long car rides and visits to older relatives.
Sadly the german publisher got so greedy, he hired a german writer to prolongue at least the Malory Towers series.

Reply to  franhunne4u

Hi Fran,
I used to get all her books out of the local library so we didn’t have to buy them which was a blessing. They say the days of the library are becoming obsolete because of technology which is a shame. I loved Malory Towers too and I bet the German writer couldn’t do her justice.

Thank you for sharing.