Born on 11th August 1897, Enid Blyton remains one of Britain’s most loved children’s story writers.
Even though Enid’s mother disapproved of her daughter writing, considering it a waste of time, her father encouraged his daughter, allowing Enid’s love for writing in childhood to flourish. Enid attended St. Christopher’s School in Beckenham, where her exceptional academic skills won her a place as head girl. It was during this time that Enid had her very first literary success.. A poem named ‘Have you?’ was published in the Nash’s magazine.
On leaving school, Enid studied to become a teacher, but she never gave up writing, hoping to become a published author one day. It was in 1922 that Enid’s dream was to come true, when her first book, a compilation of children’s poems called Child Whispers was published.
By the time Enid Blyton was in her thirties she was gaining a reputation as the children’s author to read. Her most celebrated series, The Famous Five, a mystery series with the five characters of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and a dog named Timmy, is as popular today as it was in the early Twentieth century.
Blyton’s tales can be split roughly into three categories. The first contains adventures starring children who are fairly independent from their parents or other authority figures, and go around solving mysteries, such as The Island of Adventure. The next group of tales revolve around boarding schools, namely life there and its happenings, with parties, practical jokes and friendships, as in The Naughtiest Girl Collection. The final type of story delves into the world of fantasy, where children are in a magical place with elves, goblins, fairies and other types of imaginative creatures, such as The Folk of the Faraway Tree.
Despite modern eyes frequently criticizing Blyton’s work for presenting a rosy view of the world, as well as being racist or gender discriminate, its popularity has never dipped. In her lifetime Enid produced over 800 stories, selling in excess of 600 million books across the world, in 90 different languages. Having contracted Alzheimer’s disease, Enid Blyton moved into a nursing home in the 1960’s, where she died on 28th of November 1968 at the age of 70. She left an incredible legacy of words behind her.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.