The Enid Blyton Phenomenon
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The Enid Blyton Phenomenon

Enid Blyton was born in East Dulwich, a suburb of London, on the 11 August 1897.

She died in 1968 aged 71.

She is one of the world’s bestselling children’s authors having written over 700 titles. Her books sell worldwide. It is estimated her sales are over 400 million copies.

Her books are still very popular today. They have been translated into over 90 languages.

Background Information

Enid Blyton idolised her father and when he left the family Enid’s heart was broken. She eventually broke ties with her mother and brothers as well.

In her late teens she realised she had a natural affinity with children and studied to be a teacher during 1916-1918. She had a few teaching positions after this.

In 1920, she began writing in her spare time. She was rejected many times by a variety of publishers, but she was determined to be a successful writer.

"it is partly the struggle that helps you so much, that gives you determination, character, self-reliance – all things that help in any profession or trade, and most certainly in writing," she said.

Her first book was a book of poetry called Child Whisper. It was published in 1922.

Blyton wrote on a wide range of topics, for example, natural history, mystery stories, bible stories, myths and legends as well as thousands of articles and poems.

Her reputation was enhanced in 1923. Some of her work was published in a special issue of the Teachers’ World magazine alongside Walter de la Mare and G.K. Chesterton and. Rudyard Kipling,

During the 1920’s and 1930’s Blyton published a number of successful educational texts including a three-volume The Teacher’s Treasury (1926), the six- volume Modern Teaching (1928) and the ten volume Pictorial Knowledge in 1930. The last series was the four-volume Modern Teaching in the Infant School.

Her best-known books are the famous Five and Secret Seven series and Noddy. Her early novels included ‘The Wishing Chair’ and The Enchanted Wood.

She often produced over 50 titles in a year as well as newspaper and magazine contributions.

Literary Style

She did not plan her writing. It came from her unconscious mind and she typed it out as she received it. This enabled the volume of work and it also caused a lot of criticism.

It was claimed that she used the same plot over and over again. This is hard to deny.

The speed and volume of the work she produced led to rumors that she had ghost writers write the stories for her. She vehemently denied this.

She has a childlike writing style. She wrote to entertain children not win literary awards. Her stories are simple and easy to read.

The rapport she had with children was valued by her. She believed she owed her readers the presentation of a strong moral framework. She set up clubs and encouraged her readers give to charities involved with animals and children.

Opposition from Teachers Librarians and Parents

From the 1950’s onward there was a lot of opposition towards her work from critics, parents, teachers and librarians. The Noddy series in particular received a good deal of hostile criticism.

Some libraries even refused to stock her books. They were seen as not having any literary merit.

Her style never seemed to mature. She would be hard pressed to find a publisher today, but today’s publishers still publish her work because her reputation is established and parents remember reading her work.

Her influence may vanish in a few generations.

Enid Blyton said the opinion of anyone over twelve did not concern her. But they do! It is important to introduce children to the best literature possible.

As an adult I do not like Enid Blyton’s work. I find little depth in her characters and a lot of unnecessary conversation plus some of her views are concerning.

However, I do acknowledge she provided me with reading material that engrossed me as a young child.

Fortunately, I was introduced to other children’s books and I read more than Enid Blyton.

Some Reasons for Her Success

• Enid Blyton understood the importance of marketing. She was always before her young audience. She also had contacts in the publishing world.

• The volume of her work meant her books were readily seen.

• She knew what children wanted. Lots of food, lots of action and adventure, mystery, and examples of friendship and easy to read text.

• Enid Blyton never preached or posed in depth questions. Her books do not need much thinking about.

• Her characters allowed children to escape from their problems into her fantasy worlds.

• Her characters often outwitted adults. This gives the child reader a sense of empowerment. Adults were there to make children’s lives comfortable.

• Children were free to roam the countryside giving the reader a sense of freedom.

There will probably never be another Enid Blyton. She will always be remembered for the contribution she made to the reading skills of many children.

Street Talk

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