UK: Enid Blyton and Harry Potter

I love to travel as you all know already. I love armchair travel more than actually travelling to places. Reading books about places is even better than actually visiting those places – because it is cheaper, more convenient and you can get more information than you can even at that location. Also when you are travelling, you hardly have time to stop at one place and admire the beauty of that place or appreciate the history associated with it. This is more so when you spend $$$$ to visit a foreign country. I usually search for books about places that interest me and read about them. I have reviewed many travel books on this blog (you can check them in the “Old posts” page).

One country that I am really fascinated with is UK. I am desperate to visit London and Scotland there. One of the main reasons is reading about these places in books. I have read a lot about London in Harry Potter as a kid and would love to visit all the places mentioned in those books. My most favorite author – Enid Blyton is also from UK and I would definitely want to see her house. I want to see that one place which inspired her books. I am not planning to visit UK in the near future, but I did want to do some armchair travel through books.

So I picked few books about Enid Blyton and her cottage, which is supposedly on sale right now. I wanted to know more about her as a person and also wanted to know little bit more about her life – where she grew up, where she studied and such things. I also want to learn more about what inspired her to write such amazing books for children. I got myself two books on her. One was Enid Blyton: The biography by Barbara Stoney and this book has her complete bibliography – it has a list of all her books! That is just amazing as I am planning to read and collect every single book that she has written (which is probably close to impossible considering how prolific she was as a writer).

The other book I got was Enid Blyton at Old Thatch by Tess Livingstone – which mostly has photographs and small amount of text. I think I am going to like this book even more than her biography. I just can’t wait to get my hands on these books.

blyton_smNow the one series which made me want to visit UK was Harry Potter series. So I got myself few “Harry Potter Places” books to help me learn about all the places which inspired J.K.Rowling. It also mentions cafes, restaurants that are her favorites, along with the places where the movies were shot. So basically, every single place in UK which is somehow related to Harry Potter. These books are full of some amazing pictures and descriptions. I am definitely going to treasure these forever. Also, these will help me if and when I plan a visit to UK.

hpplaces1_smSome of my other favorite authors are also from UK – J.R.R. tolkien who was a professor there, George Orwell and many more authors. I do want to read Tolkien’s biography soon. I read this book – “The bucket list of a traveloholic” by Sarika Pundit where the author goes on a literary trail in UK and thought that was an amazing thing to do. I recently watched a video somebody posted about how she was reading about her favorite authors and was planning to visit all the places associated with her favorite authors in UK. I was inspired after seeing that video to read up more about my favorite authors and places too.

And I was fascinated with Scotland even before I read Harry Potter series I think. I had subscribed to some mailing list long back, when I had first created an email account I think. I used to get pictures of some amazing Scotland castles and I so badly wanted to visit those castles.

It’s not just authors, UK also had some great scientists like Isaac Newton. So we also have Trinity college, Oxford University on our wishlist in UK.

Off topic, any idea why nobody reads Enid Blyton’s books in US, considering how popular she is outside US? I have always wondered that.

Have you read any good books about UK?

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17 thoughts on “UK: Enid Blyton and Harry Potter

      • I only write here what I have read. At the time she wrote, her books were considered racist and not suitable for children to read. For example, the Golliwogs characters were depicted as bad and black. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

        “Blyton’s work became increasingly controversial among literary critics, teachers and parents from the 1950s onwards, because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books, particularly the Noddy series. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Her books have been criticised as being elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain.”

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      • True, her most prolific period in writing, she was banned by BBC, the authority/censorboard.. the ban was removed in 1960s around. I think xenophobia and racist came much later in a 1950s series,, but BBC heads somehow favoured other writers and ever gave her radio spots or writing rights even though she was very popular, You can read up the letters between Blyton and the BBC on BBC website. She is very popular in all the erstwhile colonies, that is a trend with the colonial book trade, there are other writers too, who were never thought of suitable for English readers but suitable for the colonies.. May we never felt it, but the french girls were not looked up on favorably, the bad guys were almost always from outside the island.. are reasons they say..

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  1. I’m not much of a travelogue reader but the idea of visiting places that appear in books seems enchanting. I was once writing a piece on Enid Blyton and read up not very good things about her as a person. That broke my heart a little bit. But that doesn’t take away from the magic of her books. I can still pick up and read the Farway Tree or Famous Five. Yeah her books were banned in the US perhaps that’s why they’re not as popular there.

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    • Yeah she is not known for her personality but then so was Isaac Newton because of his horrible childhood. Still nobody can deny that he was a genius. I want to know what it was that made her write such amazing books on adventure. I want to see what inspired her to write such stories etc. let me see if I will like it. I did not know they were banned. Any idea why?

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      • Here’s a bit from my blog post :

        Her books were allegedly unchallenging and without literary merit. She has been termed ‘elitist’ (George from Famous Five owned an island), sexist (Check out this remark made by Julian for George, ‘You may look like a boy and behave like a boy, but you’re a girl all the same. And like it or not, girls have got to be taken care of’) and racist (Golliwogs were often depicted as the ‘bad’ ones).
        Critics called her plots unimaginative and repetitive. Schools banned her books in the 60s and BBC refused to broadcast her works!!

        You can find the post here http://obsessivemom.blogspot.in/2014/04/e-has-to-be-for-enid-blyton_5.html

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      • One of Rohinton mistry’s books I don’t remember which one now, also has a mention of the disillusion of an Indian man over the fairer skinned Blyton children.. how the father does not want to his children to get into the habit of reading Blyton and feel disorientated about their country, food and colour..something like that!

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    • I am sure there will be a reason for her personality. I mean, even Newton wasn’t a pleasant man but there was a reason for that – he had a horrible childhood. So I am intrigued to know more about her and I want to know what inspired her to write such amazing books.

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  2. There is a biography by her daughter, a very nasty one infact where the daughter talks about how unmotherly she was with her children while she was a popular children’s writer. But the woman I tell you is to be given merit.. she was involved in every bit of detail from the making of the book, the weight of it, the illustrations, the paper quality.. she saw to it that the each book published was suitable to be held by the children of that age!

    I want to pick up these Harry Potter places.. let me see where I can… 🙂

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