Though we end all of our days with sleep and dreams, only fragments of which we can remember, few of us can take stock at the moment that the door daily opens to darkness and its light. Enid Blyton, was such a dreamer who could indulge nightmares and bring them to life for children; and to the neglect of at least one of her own, she put this elusive and magic ability first in her life.
That while, after we close our eyes in order for us to pass into sleep; if it lasts a long time and it bothers us to have our wits remain intact, is known as insomnia. In such a tiresome state government librarians turn children away; and by this, the adults they develop into; by refusing to relent and stock enough of the most popular books. It is often repeated that works by Enid Blyton were banned from school and public libraries. This fascinating book thoroughly examines the actual evidence for this civil service.
Intrepid REM deep sleepers like Enid Blyton, who can keep their heads on the other side of slumber; who can navigate the perilous seas and verdurous glooms while in this state, believe that they lead on to fortune.
Shrewdly pitting her many publishers against each other, and back on terra-firma, Blyton provided husbands and herself with minks and Rolls Royce in England where wide-awake success "so huge and wholly farcical" is always begrudged.
From this never never land Enid Blyton never truly awoke. She was not always criticized for the childishness of her work; and only after her death for its middle class values. The basis of this book is a university thesis that seeks to document the banning and the stocking of her work in the libraries of the world. Written by a librarian, the research quality end-notes document the conspiracy against Blyton; and dutifully record the labour of reviewing so much necessarily obscure library material which likely will never be graced with being referred to again.
Blyton worked indomitably from 1924 to 1963. It is not often recorded that towards the end of her single-minded career, every major publisher of that unbroken day wanted some of the action. Macmillan (The Adventure Series); Hodder & Stoughton (Famous Five); Brockhampton Press (Secret Seven); Methuen (Mallory Towers); William Collins (The "R" Mysteries); George Newnes (Faraway Tree); Blackwell (The Secret Series); Evans Brothers (Six Cousins); Sampson Low (Noddy).
Was it those craven publishers? Or was it her own fertile inadequacies that gave the world enough books, around six hundred of them to make childish dreams of owning them all, or even reading them all, fade far away before they could ever came true. No child in the fifties when she was alive and well and living at Green Hedges could have ever read ALL of her books without either becoming spoilt and disabled; or growing old enough to realise that, except for Enid alone, there was more to getting a life than remaining a child.
Enid Blyton stayed back there for us all who ultimately grew out of her books. She drove a secret and a childlike word into every one. Books enough, and popular enough, for some at every jumble sale to be there for me. There was a surfeit; enough even for the poorest when we were no taller than the trestles that supported such truly exotic wares; at least one or two copies, perhaps in not quite such good condition, after pushing and the shoving was over.
On page 45 we read "her books were so popular that they were never on the shelves and enthusiasts had to be pretty fast on the returned trolley to get hold of one." Librarians looking for an easier life than the easy life of Blyton, invented the "returned trolley"; and shirked the duty of returning her books to the shelves: "it was not that libraries were anti-Blyton, but that Enid Blyton's great output made her name the one that every parent remembered". The remarkable fact is recorded that the BBC never made use any of EB's work, even though she regularly offered to help in the children's department. It was not until 1974 that The Island of Adventure was trivialized by being on Jackanory. I was mortified to read, of Stuart Tresilian's evocative illustrations: "though Dyer describes the illustrations in Castle of Adventure as execrable they do undoubtedly represent the characters and the action in a way which appeals to most children." There must be something wrong with me.
The first book I ever read that deserved the name was called "The Secret Island". Before the illness that confined me to bed for about six weeks I only knew reading at school from Janet and John books. I recall that formative experience; realising what a book WAS for the first time; when I imagined that the way to say the word "island" was to read it as "IS land". I still feel the lack of my eight and nine "times" tables. I was as stunned as chicken licken when the sky fell upon her head. It was the revelation of what a book might be.
I'm grateful to Enid Blyton to this day. The sheer well-produced physicality of each volume, each publisher striving to outdo the other is part of the phenomenon. The mere handling of her books was the most basic lesson in literature that could be had back then. While she lived, no part of her prodigious legacy was issued in paperback. Now that the expurgators Chorion preside over the copyrights, and Robert Maxwell accountants have reduced the works to shoddy unstitched paperbacks with fashion illustrations by a new caste, we need to consult the collector's market to be able to divine how it was that our enchantment began.
This research is a useful corrective; but if you have loved the books in their original glory you will be glad to find sleepers like you generously catered for at the enidblytonsociety website.Read more ›