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Enid Blyton, English children's writer

Enid Blyton is a famous English writer who has produced more than 700 books, reliably more than many other writer of note. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages more recently into Sinhala too and sold in millions the world over.

Enid Blyton

Many of her stories in a series have been developed into successful TV programs both animated and live action, earlier pantomime shows jigsaw puzzles, toys playing cards, records all of which became extremely popular.

Her stories have a universal appeal, for children to acquire the joys and skills of reading and the discovery of the world around them. Also, they allow children to use their imagination and at the same time giving the feeling that they are living and moving with the characters in the story. Her house was one of the best known in the country at the time. A letter addressed to her to Green Hedges London would most probably reach its destination.

Happy hours

As a child I remember spending many happy hours with a book written by her. When I was between 9 and 12 years of age and studying in a Colombo school, the children in my class read one Enid Blyton book after another. We all waited for a book release so that it would come on to bookshelves in our bookshops. Being an affluent school, the parents would buy a book for a child as soon as one appeared and I would get one unfailingly for my Birthday which I would exchange with others.

Later on just before exam time it was a relief for the mind to read an Enid Blyton book, say from the naughtiest girl series and after heavy mental stress it was nice to relax with a book after the exam.

Towards middle age, I developed a curiosity to know more about her. The 21st century being highly advanced technologically, I found the information that I sought through the Internet.

It provided a feedback for my curiosity to know about where she lived, her family life, how she obtained the material for her books, her social service activities. Born on August 11, 1897 above a shop in East Dulwich London, she was the eldest child of Thomas Carey and Theresa Blyton. Her father was originally from Sheffield and had to move to London for his employers, a cutlery firm. He was a quite well read man of many interests.

She and her father spent many hours walking in the countryside where he passed on his knowledge of nature plant and animal life, seasons, variations. Her father's family was musically minded. From 1907-1915 she was educated at St. Christopher's High school in Bechanhan where she enjoyed academic and extra curricular activities and excelled in her work as head girl.

Her parents married life was gradually falling apart. Her mother had a grievance against the daughter that she was not learning to be the mother housekeeper but was wasting time on walking about. In 1910 her father moved out and began a family with another woman. Her mother had never been close to her. They moved to a house at Elm rd Bechanhan.

In 1910 Arthur Mee picked one of her poems in a magazine with very good results. In 1914 she opened her own infants' school.

Enid Blytonís former house

In 1922 she had a book of poems published, A Child Whispers. This was going to be the beginning of a serious writing career. She married Hugh Pollock in 1914 and they moved to Elfin Cottage. She had 2 daughters, by him by her marriage Gillianin 1931 and Imogen in 1933. They were baptised as Anglicans. She was not a regular church goer as she has confessed.

Adventure Story

It is said that she would laugh to herself sometimes. She needed someone who understood her mentality. After all some of her stories made children laugh heartily. Mr Meddle, Mr & Mrs Tuiddle stories would have made even the writer laugh.

In 1937 she wrote Adventure of the wishing chair, in 1938. The Secret Island her full length Adventure Story.

She divorced in 1942, the same year her first Famous Five story was published and married Darrel Kenneth Waters a surgeon in London in 1943 having had a relationship with him for about five years.

May be she couldn't attend to household work all the time but there would have been a cook, a maid to do the work so whatever her daughters thought and said they should have taken everything in the night spirit. An Easterner would have said "if Mum is happy then we are happy too."

The famous five stories revolve round three children, the eldest Julian, next Dick, Anne the youngest they have as wick called Quentin in the country, he has a daughter called Georgina a Tomboy who insists on being called George, and her faithful dog Timmy. George is initially suspicious of the newcomers to her domain 5 but in time become the best of friends and have many adventures.

Financial difficulties

Many of her stories are set in Dorset, which Enid discovered in 1931 and staying variously at "The Ship", "The Grosvenor" and "The Grand Hotels". Enid and Kenneth seen to have made a point of swimming round what were 2 piers at Peril and Swanage Bay.

In 1950 Kenneth purchased the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club for a pittance, because the then owner Harry Palmer being ill was in financial difficulties.

Enid's husband sold it in 1965 to Harry Randolph. There was plenty to stimulate her imagination in Purbeck including several castles, lighthouses, lots of sandy beaches, steep cliffs, swimming pools, harbours, wreckers ways used in the olden days by smugglers.

For the stories "Kirrin Castle" is based on Corfe. Whispering Island is based on Brown Sea Island. Mystery Moor is supposed to be the Heath between Stoborough and Corfe and Finnston Farm her own farm at Sturminster Newton.

The year 1940 brought "Little Noddy goes to Toyland" with sales soaring skyhigh, 24 pictures were to be followed by Beek. Her hero Bill Smuggs was a person she had met at the Grosvenor Hotel in the early 1940's. Mr Plod the policeman is founded on a Studland Policeman of those days, possibly P.C. Christopher Rhone.

She remained a regular contributor to papers like the standard guardian and to magazines. She was the editor of her own shary stories magazine for some years. She launched Enid Blyton's magazine in 1953 but it ceased publication in 1959. This gave her books in instalment form and children clamoured to get copies once a fortnight when it care out.

Although the stories of Secre seven are the most well-known, she wrote many tales of other children having fantastic adventures.

The most popular school girl story series are Malory Towers and St Clares. Of the magical books the most widely read are the Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree series.

In the circus stories we encounter circus life though children they live in Caravans Camp on a common where there is water in plenty, keep clear of the police, and when he weather is fine try to earn enough, when the circus performs in the big top for the slack season when the weather is not fine.

There are also stories on farm life in England. The Children of Cherry Tree farm, Children of Willow Farm and Adventures on Willow Farm.

The Barney Mystery Series contain one central character (Barney) who live

with a variety of circus troupe as he has no father and his mother is dead. In Rub-A-Dub mystery he finds his father.

There is also the adventure series, sea, valley, mountain of adventure. These are bigger books with more words and they take more time to complete. Then the Brer rabbit, fox and bear books which even elders enjoy. Then a book like six bad boys, how jointly life made then aggressive, she was at the sessions at the Juvenile courts before writing that. This tells children to get on with their studies and find suitable jobs even though family life is not satisfactory.

Bedside books

A book like Rub-a-long tales where Ma Rubalong and her son, a shoemaker come to tiptop village and settle down and how they move with the characters there. In addition her bedside books, first, second etc, big holiday articles, nature tales like Round the Year with Enid Blyton, Bible tales, Bible reading for each day of the year told children to be religious minded. She did not leave any stone unturned.

She wrote in the form of the ideal mother, after all it was how it should be, about the Rector at the parsonage, in any trouble getting advice from him, going to the church on the hill on Sundays, she also wrote stories about day-to-day life in a middle class home, 'Family at Red Roofs, House at the corner and in the late 1950's, children at Green Meadows. Also 'The boy next door,' Shadow the sheep dog they became popular.

Critics point to her limited vocabulary, her immature style, short sentences, little description, but they were for children and they enjoyed her books.

She had a news letter page in her magazine where she carried out a close rapport with children all over the world and children's letters were published where they claim they were able to reform themselves for the better, after reading her stories, because almost everyone of them carries a moral.

She had competitions and donated her books as prizes and also carried out social service work through clubs, Busy Bees, Sunbeams, Enid Blytons magazine club complete with club meetings and rules.

Immensely popular

Her output involves children's fantasy sometimes involving the supernatural. Her books soon became immensely popular in Britain, India and Australia and translated into more than 40 languages Malay, Spanish, French, Finnish, German, Japanese, Hebrew, Chinese and much later Sinhala.

At one point, early stages she produced more than 10,000 words a day such a prolific output, usually sitting on a garden swing with a small typewriter on her knees. That led may to believe that her work was that of an unseen person which was wrong of course.

Her books are generally split into 3 types, one involving ordinary children in extraordinary situations, having adventures and finding themselves in unusual circumstances.

The second type is the boarding school story, the third type is the fantastical where children are transported into a magical world where they meet fairies, gobling, selves and other fantastical creatures.

Later in the late 1950's when the strength of her faculties was diminishing, the children stood by her. They wrote happenings concerning themselves and their experiences which she wove into stories.

They actually helped her when she was finding it increasingly difficult to think out things due to her illness too. For 40 years she wrote for them and naturally they helped her in her senile stage.

Towards the late 1960's the climax had come, she could not write any more. She couldn't type at all, after the death of her beloved husband in 1967, she became increasingly ill and passed away in her sleep, her illness now known as Alzheimer's disease in a Nursing Home at Hamstead.


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