The author whose name came up most often in my Life of Books Project survey was Enid Blyton. Enid was a controversial figure all her writing life and even after her death she continued to divide opinion. The BBC in the 1950s refused to dramatise her books claiming them to be simplistic and well, childish, and against all evidence to the contrary refused to acknowledge that children loved her. She sold millions and, perhaps not quite in the same astronomical numbers, still does. In the 1980s the backlash came because of the stereotypical characters that populated her writing; lazy working classes, untrustworthy foreigners, the gross, pantomime dark skinned parts and girls reduced to submissive silly roles. That she indulged in such nonsense is unfortunately true in many instances. What my survey reveals though is that most of us remember the exciting adventures, the lack of parental supervision and the engrossing tales. It is undoubtedly the case that British children who grew to love reading, did so because of Enid Blyton.
Here’s an acoustic performance of a song I’ve written for the project. The Busy Bees referred to is the name of her fan club, young members of which she often invited to her home to indulge in the high teas she depicted in a lot of her books. Her own children never enjoyed the pleasure of joining in. It would be churlish to fact check a poppy guitar song, but I’ve tried to give a broadly honest summation of her and her impact. It really does all come down to Enid Blyton