The Truth About Enid Blyton

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By Gyles Brandreth in gyles brandreth.net.

 

Enid Blyton is in the news once more. It has just been revealed that in 2016 the Royal Mint blocked a proposal to honour the celebrated children’s author with a commemorative 50p coin on the grounds that Blyton – the world’s most popular children’s author – was ‘a racist, a sexist and a homophobe’ and the Royal Mint feared a backlash. Certainly Enid Blyton was a writer who reflected her time: she was born in 1897 and died in 1968. She was also the author who introduced millions of children to the joys of reading as the creator of Noddy and Big Ears, of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, of Mallory Towers, and of my favourite book as a child: The Magic Faraway Tree.

Millions knew – and know – her stories – but who was Enid Blyton? What was she like? What was she really like? I never met her, but as a boy I loved her books and, when I grew up and had my own children and began writing children’s stories myself, I wanted to find out more about this phenomenon – so prolific, so popular, and, in certain quarters, so controversial. About seventeen years ago, in search of the truth about Enid Blyton, I went to interview her daughters – and what I discovered may surprise you.

 

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