Enid Mary Blyton was (and is still) an extremely popular children’s author. She was born in East Dulwich, South London on 11 August 1897. She was the first child of Thomas Blyton and Theresa Harrison and was Head Girl at St Christopher’s School for Girls, Beckenham – the inspiration for her later school-themed books, maybe?
During her school days, she created a magazine called Dab with two friends and honed her writing skills by writing short stories for it.
After training as a teacher she became governess to four boys in Surbiton, Surrey. It was during the early 1920s that she started to publish her work, her first being a volume of poetry called Child Whispers, in 1922.
Enid Blyton lived on Hook Road, Chessington, from 1920 – 1924. Her time living in the area is commemorated by a blue plaque placed on the house.
Enid is believed to have written around 700 books, including Noddy and the Amelia Jane series. Her prolific output was questioned, resulting in her being accused of employing ghostwriters, an accusation that was strongly denied.
She died on 28 November 1968. At the time of her death, she was one of the most successful children’s authors in the world.
Enid’s books have sold over 500 million copies, have been translated to over 40 languages and in the UK her books still sell at over one per minute.
I loved Enid Blyton books growing up, the series listed below were my favourites.
The Famous Five
The Secret Seven
The Magic Faraway Tree
I still love reading a series of books, I love the episodic way the story continues, although these days I prefer thrillers and police procedurals.
I have to admit to feeling a little excited when I found out that the favourite author of my pre-teen years had lived a five-minute drive from my house – albeit 95 years ago and for only a short period of her life.
Enid Blyton’s books have been accused of being dated, elitist, sexist and using language that we wouldn’t use in modern parlance. The discourse criticising the characteristics of her writing has resulted in the current editions of her most popular titles being edited in a contemporary style.
I don’t think it was something I noticed when I was reading Blyton’s books in the 1970s. But then, I’ve always loved dipping into nostalgia, not that I could have put a name to it back then, I was always eager for one book to finish and another one to start. She brought a little magic and mystery into my childhood and instilled in me a love of books and for that I’m grateful.