One of the world’s best-selling authors, Blyton’s stories and verse are as quintessentially British as cream teas and red phone boxes. With their classic mix of adventure, magic and humour (not to mention legendary picnics) her books have been selling in their millions since they were first published in the 1930’s. Amongst her best-known stories still flying off the shelves at Waterstones are the intrepid Famous Five and Secret Seven as well as the enchanted land of The Magic Faraway Tree.
The Secret Seven
The Magic Faraway Tree
The Adventure Series
The Naughtiest Girl in School
Stories for Younger Readers
Our Best Gifts for Enid Blyton Fans
There can be few readers who didn’t start their reading lives with an Enid Blyton or two on the bookshelf; her books remembered now as much for elaborate picnics (the infamous seemingly endless ginger beer) as their inventive plots. An extraordinarily popular and prolific writer, at her peak Blyton produced somewhere upwards of fifty books a year and her novels have been selling in their millions since the thirties. In 2008 she beat Jane Austen, Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling to the position of Britain’s best-loved author in a Costa Book Awards poll.
Tales From Childhood
A voracious reader as a child, amongst Blyton’s favourites were Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women; books that inspired her, she said, to think that, 'when I grow up I will write books about real children… that’s the kind of book I like best. That's the kind of book I would know how to write.’
Her early life provided her with plenty of material for her later writing with her experiences as Lacrosse captain and Head Girl inspiring her popular St Clare’s and Malory Towers books. For a time the young Blyton lived with a friend at Seckford Hall and the rumoured hauntings and secret passages of the house are echoed in many of her mystery and adventure stories.
Many of her characters were drawn from real people, including smuggler turned secret-service agent Bill Smugs who was based on someone she met in Dorset who begged to be turned into a character saying ‘couldn't you possibly put me into a book and make me a Secret Service man? I really could have adventures then... Put me in as I am, with no hair on top.
From the Schoolroom to the Faraway Tree
Blyton worked as a governess and teacher before marrying and turning to writing full-time. Many of her stories were rejected by publishers until her first book; a collection of poems entitled Child Whispers was published in 1922 later followed by collections of retold myths and legends including her own versions of Tales of Ancient Greece and Tales of Robin Hood.
Her real breakthrough came with the publication of the Brer Rabbit stories and The Faraway Tree series which were published just as the Second World War broke out. Many of her best-known series were begun during wartime including The Naughtiest Girl series, St Clare’s and The Famous Five.
A Friend For All Your Childhood Days
The later war years and early post-war period were the most productive years of her writing career during which she continued her earlier series as well as introducing a host of new characters including Noddy and his friends in Toyland as well as the launch of her own magazine where she regularly corresponded with her fans – some readers continued to write to her well into adulthood.
Blyton consistently wrote for children of all ages and was adamant that she wanted her readers to share in the pleasure of her stories throughout their lives commenting, ‘I want to know you from the very beginning, and go with you all through your childhood… I want to keep in touch with you all through your childhood days.