Enid Blyton has, as she so often does, tip-toed into my carefully planned reading pile this month. Rather than my old favourites, though, I’ll be reading some old and some new books on Enid.
The most comprehensive biography is by Barbara Stoney, and while there are actually very few biographies, and books about Enid tend to lean more towards the literary criticism type, this is by far the best and is still in print after almost 30 years.
Around the late 1950’s the anti-Blyton campaign was starting, with librarians and educationalists questioning everything from her ‘limited’ vocabulary to the ‘suspect’ relationship between Noddy and Big Ears, to her ‘racial discrimination’ by her use of Golliwogs in her books. In fact some librarians were complaining that she simply wrote too many books and children should be reading other books as well. Others were claiming one woman could not possibly write so many books and rumours were running wild that she used a team of ghost writers.
At the centre of the controversy was, of course, little Noddy.
Enid did not take criticism well. In a somewhat unfortunate, yet endearingly awkward response to those who criticised her books she claimed that the attacks came “from stupid people who don’t know what they’re talking about because they’ve never read any of my books.”*
A somewhat more subtle response was published in the Daily Mail in 1964, which I would like to share with you and have reproduced from Barbara Stoney’s Enid Blyton – A Biography**
“As Big Ears Said to Noddy Yesterday”
One day Noddy came home quite tired out. He really had had a very busy day. He had gone all the way to Nottingham in his little car. And when he got there a nasty man called Librarian had kicked the poor little car very hard. He had also told Noddy he would never be allowed back there again because he was not grown up enough for all the boys and girls in Nottingham.
‘Oh I am so sorry, poor little car,’ said Noddy, stroking the steering wheel.
“Parp-parp,’ said the little car, painfully.
‘Hallo, Noddy,’ called a voice over the fence. It was Tubby Bear.
‘What’s a vocabulary Noddy? That grumpy Librarian says you have got a very limited one. And he thinks you’re awful bad for the little boys and girls.’
Noddy was so worried that he hurried off to see Big Ears. He had never seen his old friend looking so cross.
‘We’d better face it,’ said Big Ears, sternly. ‘You and I and all the rest – and that goes for Mr. Plod, the policeman too – are like Librarian says, caricatures. And what is more, we are members of the intellectually under-privileged class.’
Noddy could not believe his ears.
‘B-b-beg pardon?’ he stammered. Big Ears sounded just like the fierce Librarian.
‘We’re redundant in Toyland,’ said Big Ears, angrily. ‘Do you really think children want our stories any more? We’ve got to do what the man says. All these little what-nots are going to be specialists by the time they’re nine. You’ve got to catch up on Thermo-dynamics and the Economic Position…Children want literature now. Literature with a capital “L”.’
Big Ears began to be quite worked up and so frightened Noddy that a little tear ran down his cheek. He rushed away and ran all the way home. As he went through the gate he fell right over the little car and BUMP!
With a big start Noddy woke up. It had all been a nasty dream, after all. And everything in Toyland was all right and always would be until Blyton knows when. And what is more, the kiddies went on loving Noddy and they didn’t give a parp-parp for Librarian and all those big words.
Written by Roy Nash, Published in the Daily Mail February 7th 1964.
Author’s Note I: Extensive research, including surreptitiously watching customers from behind the counter in our old bookshop picking up a Noddy politically-correct reprint and flicking through, then putting in back on the shelf with either a look of quietly suppressed rage or bitter disappointment, or answering countless emails about Noddy books in our online store where anxious customers demand evidence that the book does indeed contain Mr Golliwog, has led the author to the conclusion that children and parents alike do not give a Parp-Parp for a bowdlerised version of Noddy.
Author’s Note II: Searching “Noddy and Big Ears” on Google while looking for an image brings up the top search term “Noddy and Big Ears Gay”
Author’s Note III: The author would insist that anyone not using the top searched term, “Noddy and Big Ears Gay” for research purposes to argue against said theory, should kindly remove their minds from the gutter.
*Enid Blyton – A Biography Page 166
**Reproduced from Enid Blyton – A Biography by Barbara Stoney, First Edition 1974, Page 166