Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton.jpg
BornEnid Mary Blyton
(1897-08-11)11 August 1897
East Dulwich, London, England
Died28 November 1968(1968-11-28) (aged 71)
Hampstead, London, England
Resting placeGolders Green Crematorium
Pen nameMary Pollock
  • Novelist
  • poet
  • teacher
  • short story writer
GenreChildren's literature:
Notable works
Children2, including Gillian Baverstock
RelativesCarey Blyton (nephew)


Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968) was an English children's writer whose books have been among the world's best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blyton's books are still enormously popular, and have been translated into 90 languages. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery, and biblical narratives and is best remembered today for her Noddy, Famous Five and Secret Seven series.

Her first book, Child Whispers, a 24-page collection of poems, was published in 1922. Following the commercial success of her early novels such as Adventures of the Wishing-Chair (1937) and The Enchanted Wood (1939), Blyton went on to build a literary empire, sometimes producing fifty books a year in addition to her prolific magazine and newspaper contributions. Her writing was unplanned and sprang largely from her unconscious mind: she typed her stories as events unfolded before her. The sheer volume of her work and the speed with which it was produced led to rumours that Blyton employed an army of ghost writers, a charge she vigorously denied.

Blyton's work became increasingly controversial among literary critics, teachers and parents from the 1950s onwards, because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books, particularly the Noddy series. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Her books have been criticised as being elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain, but they have continued to be best-sellers since her death in 1968.

Blyton felt she had a responsibility to provide her readers with a strong moral framework, so she encouraged them to support worthy causes. In particular, through the clubs she set up or supported, she encouraged and organised them to raise funds for animal and paediatric charities. The story of Blyton's life was dramatised in a BBC film entitled Enid, featuring Helena Bonham Carter in the title role and first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Four in 2009. There have also been several adaptations of her books for stage, screen and television.

Early life and education

Enid Blyton was born on 11 August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London, the oldest of the three children, to Thomas Carey Blyton (1870–1920), a cutlery salesman, and his wife Theresa Mary (née Harrison; 1874–1950). Enid's younger brothers, Hanly (1899–1983) and Carey (1902–1976), were born after the family had moved to a semi-detached villa in Beckenham, then a village in Kent.[1] A few months after her birth Enid almost died from whooping cough, but was nursed back to health by her father, whom she adored.[2] Thomas Blyton ignited Enid's interest in nature; in her autobiography she wrote that he "loved flowers and birds and wild animals, and knew more about them than anyone I had ever met".[3] He also passed on his interest in gardening, art, music, literature and the theatre, and the pair often went on nature walks, much to the disapproval of Enid's mother, who showed little interest in her daughter's pursuits.[4] Enid was devastated when he left the family shortly after her thirteenth birthday to live with another woman. Enid and her mother did not have a good relationship, and she did not attend either of her parents' funerals.[5]

From 1907 to 1915 Blyton attended St Christopher's School in Beckenham, where she enjoyed physical activities and became school tennis champion and captain of lacrosse.[6] She was not so keen on all the academic subjects but excelled in writing, and in 1911 she entered Arthur Mee's children's poetry competition. Mee offered to print her verses, encouraging her to produce more.[1] Blyton's mother considered her efforts at writing to be a "waste of time and money", but she was encouraged to persevere by Mabel Attenborough, the aunt of school friend Mary Potter.[4]

Seckford Hall in Woodbridge, Suffolk, was an inspiration to Blyton with its haunted room, secret passageway and sprawling gardens.

Blyton's father taught her to play the piano, which she mastered well enough for him to believe that she might follow in his sister's footsteps and become a professional musician.[6] Blyton considered enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music, but decided she was better suited to becoming a writer.[7] After finishing school in 1915 as head girl, she moved out of the family home to live with her friend Mary Attenborough, before going to stay with George and Emily Hunt at Seckford Hall near Woodbridge in Suffolk. Seckford Hall, with its allegedly haunted room and secret passageway provided inspiration for her later writing.[1] At Woodbridge Congregational Church Blyton met Ida Hunt, who taught at Ipswich High School, and suggested that she train as a teacher.[8] Blyton was introduced to the children at the nursery school, and recognising her natural affinity with them she enrolled in a National Froebel Union teacher training course at the school in September 1916.[7][9] By this time she had almost ceased contact with her family.[1]

Blyton's manuscripts had been rejected by publishers on many occasions, which only made her more determined to succeed: "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". In March 1916 her first poems were published in Nash's Magazine.[10] She completed her teacher training course in December 1918, and the following month obtained a teaching appointment at Bickley Park School, a small independent establishment for boys in Bickley, Kent. Two months later Blyton received a teaching certificate with distinctions in zoology and principles of education, 1st class in botany, geography, practice and history of education, child hygiene and class teaching and 2nd class in literature and elementary mathematics.[1] In 1920 she moved to Southernhay in Hook Road Surbiton as nursery governess to the four sons of architect Horace Thompson and his wife Gertrude,[7] with whom Blyton spent four happy years. Owing to a shortage of schools in the area her charges were soon joined by the children of neighbours, and a small school developed at the house.[11]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Enid Blyton
العربية: إنيد بليتون
aragonés: Enid Blyton
asturianu: Enid Blyton
azərbaycanca: Enid Bliton
български: Инид Блайтън
Boarisch: Enid Blyton
bosanski: Enid Blyton
brezhoneg: Enid Blyton
català: Enid Blyton
čeština: Enid Blytonová
Cymraeg: Enid Blyton
Deutsch: Enid Blyton
Ελληνικά: Ένιντ Μπλάιτον
español: Enid Blyton
Esperanto: Enid Blyton
euskara: Enid Blyton
føroyskt: Enid Blyton
français: Enid Blyton
Gaeilge: Enid Blyton
galego: Enid Blyton
hrvatski: Enid Blyton
Bahasa Indonesia: Enid Blyton
Interlingue: Enid Blyton
íslenska: Enid Blyton
italiano: Enid Blyton
kurdî: Enid Blyton
Latina: Enid Blyton
latviešu: Enida Blaitona
Lëtzebuergesch: Enid Blyton
Lingua Franca Nova: Enid Blyton
magyar: Enid Blyton
Malagasy: Enid Blyton
Bahasa Melayu: Enid Blyton
Nederlands: Enid Blyton
occitan: Enid Blyton
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਐਨਿਡ ਬਿਲਟਨ
polski: Enid Blyton
português: Enid Blyton
română: Enid Blyton
Simple English: Enid Blyton
slovenščina: Enid Blyton
српски / srpski: Инид Блајтон
svenska: Enid Blyton
Tagalog: Enid Blyton
Türkçe: Enid Blyton
українська: Енід Мері Блайтон
Tiếng Việt: Enid Blyton
Winaray: Enid Blyton