Enid Blyton: The biography by Barbara Stoney
Enid Blyton – “the most prolific, successful, yet controversial children’s writer of all time” (taken from the book) is my most favorite author ever. She had a depressing, horrible childhood (just like I thought she would). Her father who was closest to her, left her and her mother for another woman. Her mother never cared for her and “felt that her daughter should give more help with the domestic tasks”. She did not meet her mother again after she left her house, not even when her mother pleaded before dying. She would say this frequently to her daughters – “You would much rather I did worry about you than not care what happened – which is what I always felt was the case with my own mother.” No wonder she was depressed and during her last days, she craved for her family.
She was an amazing teacher, well loved by children because of the way she would tell them stories and poems that she wrote herself. She wanted children to learn something about the nature and her story always had some moral. She usually spent only an hour or so a day with her daughters, as she was busy writing and replying to mails from children throughout the day. She would read stories and play with her daughters and animals in the evening time.
She was famous because of -“Her ability to move into a child’s world of fancy and to understand things dear to the heart of childhood” – as some reviews said of her books. She would write 4000-5000 words in a day by longhand, which is amazing.
Elfin cottage, Old Thatch and Green Hedges are the names that she gave for houses where she lived. I want to visit all these/the places where they were located when I go to UK. This book talks about everything related to her personal life and her works. It was great reading about a person that I admire so much.
“So long as one child tells me that my work rings him pleasure, just so long shall I go on writing” – this was her answer when asked why she worked so hard. She loved children and writing for them.
“Such was her personal magnetism and charm that even the most unruly bunch of youngsters – sometimes numbering a hundred or more – would within moments of her appearance be quietened down into a well-behaved, adoring audience, listening and absorbing all that she had to tell them.”
She sought some sort of escape from unpleasant reality through her writing, considering how messy her early life was. She would publish around 20 books in a year. :O I am not aware of any author who could write so many books.
“While her characters were being established, they would walk about in her head, take over her dreams…”
Isn’t she a genius? She did not have to sit and think about coming up with stories. They just came to her head on their own.
“Once the first sentence had been put to paper, the rest unfolded like cotton from a reel.”
I agree with Enid when she says –“the best writers for children did not deal in murders, rapes, violence, blood, torture and ghosts…“. I am surprised people found her books offensive, when many horrible books for children exist today. Most of them written in the name of fantasy teach nothing to children, have no morals and teach violence to small kids. Even TV shows and cartoons are so violent these days.
My guess was right – George from Famous Five series was based upon Enid herself!
The book also talks about the controversies surrounding her works and how librarians banned her books.
“Golliwogs are merely lovable black toys, not Negroes. Teddy bears are also toys, but if there happens to be a naughty one in my books for younger children, this does not mean that I hate bears!” – Enid did not agree with the accusation that she was a racist.
“… She never left her childhood entirely behind…” And that is why she was/is so popular among kids.
J.K. Rowling replaced her and became the most famous children’s writer but even she read Enid Blyton’s books it seems. I still think Rowling can never match Blyton in terms of creativity, as Rowling has only one series that became popular but Blyton has countless number of famous series and she could write stories of any kind (adventure/fantasy/mystery/funny) for any age group.
I want to read her autobiography and also book by her second daughter someday. This book also has a Foreword by her first daughter.
This book also has few of her articles that she wrote for magazines I guess along with the complete list of all her works. The list written in a tiny font spanned for 43 pages, so now you can imagine how many books she wrote for children right?
If you are an Enid Blyton fan or love her books, please read this book as it made me like the author more as a person. She is not evil as the articles in the Internet indicate. She was definitely a genius and a big philanthropist which I did not know.
Enid Blyton at Old Thatch by Tess Livingstone
Enid Blyton has 700 published works according to this book. Isn’t that amazing?! I enjoyed reading about Old Thatch, Enid Blyton’s cottage. It also briefly talks about other places which inspired her books and also about Green Hedges which was her house later in life. It has some great pictures along with descriptions of some interesting places. It also talks about homes of other famous writers. Mostly a tourist guide for people planning to visit her house.