I count our successes those who learn to be good-hearted and kind, sensible and trustable, good, sound women the world can lean on.
Miss Grayling – First Term at Malory Towers
A girl of Enid-Blyton-Land must study hard but not be too studious, play hard but never slack off, never pay too much attention to her looks lest she be branded a feather-head but always be “well-turned out”, be independent and clever yet never look so far into the future she forgets to be an ordinary school-girl. Miss Grayling’s gentle speech may be an inspiring one, but the girls of Malory Towers were determined to lick you into shape should you fail to meet their standards. It was an arduous path to becoming the well-rounded woman that Enid expected you to be.
This is my small collection of Enid Blyton biographies. I also have two biographies written for children by her daughter Gillian, and an autobiography published in 1952, The Story of My Life. For one of the world’s most famous and prolific authors it may not seem like a lot, and it really isn’t. Why is that?
I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly Barbara Stoney’s Enid Blyton – A Biography is considered the definitive biography, and deservedly so. Secondly there is a complete lack of personal papers to investigate much further. It’s likely everyone who has researched Enid Blyton had used this biography as a reference book. If you are interested in reading a factual account of Enid’s life then this is the book you need to begin with.
I was in a Salvation Army shop a few months back looking at some Enid Blyton books that were locked in the display cabinet. A young lady was serving me while I flipped through the stack (muttering the inevitable “got it, got it, got it”) and attempting to to strike up a conversation. I told her something about having a large collection of Enid Blyton books, but I was rather distracted as I usually am when looking at books and was talking to her with my head down. I was still looking down when she asked me if I had seen the movie on Enid Blyton, to which I replied was something along the lines of “rubbish”.
“Ooooh,” she exclaimed, making me look up “I didn’t think she could be that mean!”
I had to smile at her, seeing the relief emanating off her in waves. She has since, any time she has been working when I visit that shop, pointed out when they have new Enid Blyton books. I wonder if she is grateful that someone wiped the slate clean for one of her favourite childhood authors.
Terry Deary’s recent remarks to The Guardian on why libraries have “had their day” sparked outrage among librarians, authors and readers alike. There was another comment in that article that went seemingly unnoticed, but raised my ire
Books aren’t public property, and writers aren’t Enid Blyton, middle-class women indulging in a pleasant little hobby
Enid Blyton would have certainly disagreed with him, on both points. During the second World War publishing houses were subject to strict paper rationing, and despite her books being printed by more than a dozen publishing houses at the time, they were selling out in a matter of weeks. When inundated with letters from readers telling her they were unable to obtain copies of her books, her advice was to borrow either from friends, or from their local library.
I actually managed to knock over a whole lot of my reading list this year, at least two or three books a month, including re-reads. I am, quite frankly, surprised at myself (and insufferably pleased with myself I might add) that I not only managed to get through a large quantity, I branched out a lot and read a good variety. It is no mean feat that I get through a book that (if not an Enid Blyton) does not grace me with the presence of a dragon.
Earlier in the year I read the continuations of St. Clare’s written by Pamela Cox, and I although I enjoyed them I was slightly disappointed. You can read my further ramblings on The Sixth Form at St. Clare’s here.
I ordered the Third Form at St. Clare’s and Kitty at St Clare’s recently. Sixth Form and Third Form were published in 2000, with Kitty at St. Clare’s published in 2008. I noticed Kitty at St. Clare’s seemed to return to a more traditional format rather than being slightly modernized. At the same time I ordered the first two in a six-part continuation of my beloved Malory Towers books. I read the first two in short order, ordered the next four, and have had a delightful week at Malory Towers as they have started arriving.
I just finished the Sixth Form at St Clare’s today, a continuation in the original St Clare’s series which finished, somewhat abruptly (for me anyway) with the Fifth Form. I was quite happy to see that had written some more books to fill gaps in the series and continue the story on. I found a second-hand copy a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t gotten around to buying them yet as the boxed set went out of print and I was waiting for them to do a new boxed set.
Enid Blyton once stated she was not interested in criticism from anyone over the age of twelve. How very Enid of her. I’m quite sure she would be somewhat baffled at the barrage of criticism thrown at her books since her death. Enid Blyton always thought as a child, clearly as a child of her era, but a child nonetheless.
I was looking through my Blyton bookcase the other day for some Rosemary Manning paperbacks I had tucked in there. It has not moved house with us yet, and I am in the process of covering all the fragile jackets in mylar, so it is somewhat of a mess at the moment. I came across my collection of various printings of The Three Golliwogs and took one out to have a peek.