Whatever happened to Enid Blyton?

As a girl, I lived on Enid Blyton. Famous Five. The five find-outers. Secret Seven. The … of adventure series. Even dear old Noddy. The sausages and eggs for breakfast (where I never got to eat sausages). The potted meat sanwiches. Scones for tea. Camping on Kirrin island and sleeping on heather (again, camping was not in vogue in urban India).

Did you read those?

So when I was invited to the first pre teen girls birthday party here in the US, I went to Barnes and Nobles and combed the kids section. Nothing. I asked the customer service lady and was told there was only one book available which would arrive in eight weeks! And it wasnt even some of the more popular ones like Famous five.

I was shocked. I though those books were perfect for kids – the fun factor, the adventure, the focus on values. I loved her easy language, and stories that flowed and piqued the imagination, but also the way she introduced larger words to her readers well disguised in the flow. These were the stories which got me addicted to reading, a gift I treasure till today.

Some investigation on Google showed that the apparent reason was that Enid Blyton promoted old stereotypes, even some racist and sexist one. Such as poor Anne always doing the beds and cooking on Famous Five adventures. And all her main characters were white and English.

Well, I give you all that but I just just found that unbelievable. I grew up a feminist on all these books, and they certainly did not make me love stereotypes (but then again. I was Indian). On a trip home, I was glad they still sold Enid Blytons back there, though in terrible print, so I stocked up on those.

And Noddy is a TV show there, properly edited, which I respect. Now…..have you read any Enid Blytons? Is it available in other parts of the world?

Or am I just too old fashioned and time has moved ahead from these books.

 Here’s a wikipedia link to Enid Blyton.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi



8 Comments

  1. pry

    Amrita- I used to love Enid Blytons books.Famous five was my fav. I know I was surprised to see those books in the stores too.Nancy Drew, Hardy boys books r common here though….

  2. Anonymous

    Hmmmm.. Never heard of those books growing up here.

  3. Anonymous

    Hmmmm.. Never heard of those books growing up here.

    lisa

  4. Amrita

    Thanks for your comments Pry, werent famous five awesome? I always wanted to go on adventures like them. Anonymous, I think kids here would love them as they can actually do some of the camping and stuff like that.

  5. S Rawat

    I liked those books too. I miss them.

  6. Tana

    Amrita, I found this delightful little post in the archives and it totally made me smile. I think my entire value set was singlehandedly shaped by the combination of Amar Chitra Katha including Panchatantra) and Enid Blyton! I loved Famous Five (my group of five childhood friends even modeling our adventures on them, dog and all), and later Secret Seven was a bigger favorite due to the sophistication in language. Then came Malory Towers … oh, all the implicit morals and lessons there! I recognize the possible “racism” in today’s context (hey, even Agatha Christie, a big favorite of mine is considered a racist in critics’ circles…) but I totally agree with you that the senstivity may be a little too extreme. Thanks for taking me down memory lane! 🙂

  7. rajvi

    Amrita – Your post took me down the memory lane. My love affair with reading started when I discovered Enid Blyton in our school library. And I remember how ecstatic I was when my mom allowed me to purchase the entire series of Five Findouters from my school friend who was leaving India. That is how I started collecting books. Many a summer afternoons were spent reading and re-reading the Enid Blyton books. I would fantasize about my attending the boarding school like Mallory Towers or St. Clair. Thank you for bringing back the memories.

  8. Amrita Bakshi

    Thanks so much for your comments. I miss these books too. And I wanted to study there as well

Leave a Reply