Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Enchanted Enid.

Before I embark on my newest witter can I just say a heartfelt thank you from mum and myself for the lovely comments left on my last post. She's had a 'bit of a time' of it lately but the pacemaker is now in and we are expecting cartwheels in no time at all. 

Now this post could be divisive. I'm aware that Enid Blyton isn't everybody's cup of tea and from recent evidence she probably isn't someone who I would want to have met but - oh - those books of hers!

From the earliest age I always had my nose in a book but as I try to remember which ones they all come up Enid. 

My favourite had to be this one.

Never mind the dandy outfits the fact was there was a wood that was inhabited by fairy folk, and - this was the best bit - the animals talked! 

A talking bunny - every eight year old girls dream?

Reading that bit back I realise I've used the word 'fact' there - to me this place was real!

The wood was home to a magical tree that transported the children to faraway lands where adventures were waiting. Some lands were more desirable than others. For example in Birthday Land you just had to wish for something and it would appear, whereas Dame Slap's school was a terrifying place. But to me the tree itself was as magical as the lands. You could travel down Moonface's slide that ran from top to bottom, or sit on a branch and share fresh home made biscuits with Silky the fairy.

I'm going to share something with you now that I don't condone - in fact it's something I've railed against all my adult life - but look what I did ...

... I wrote all over the inside cover! Several times it seems!! Oh dear. But it was my 'best book' and obviously I had to mark that in some way! I even marked the contents page each time a chapter was read.

I don't think Enid would have approved.

The back covers of these books had a tempting array of 'rewards' which I used to pore over and covet.

From fairy woods I moved on to a slightly more 'grown up' version with 'The Children of Cherry Tree Farm'.

Following the same premise a city dwelling family go to stay with their country relations and soon find that a whole host of adventures await in the woods. In a timely situation that we probably wouldn't conceive of in this day and age, the children befriend a local wild man, Tammylan, who then teaches them about the local flora and fauna.

Alongside them I also learned. I remember reading that a very comfortable bed could be made out of moss and heather, and that a 'slow worm' was neither slow nor a worm but actually a legless lizard! In the days before t'internet Enid provided valuable information to a young nature lover like myself.

I continued with 'The Naughtiest Girl series followed by Malory Towers. Tales of independent young gals who sorted out right from wrong at their respective boarding schools. 

Then came the Famous Five and, my preferred crime solving gang, the Secret Seven. Alongside these were The Put-Em-Rights and The Mystery of ... series. 

Most of Enid's tales were based around children. They seemed to exist in a separate world to the adults (sadly something which her own children experienced only too well) but with strength of character and camaraderie anything was possible. As a young girl this was perfect escapism and encapsulated an innocence that has seemingly diminished in our technical age. (Although saying that I'd still like to think there were fairy folk at the bottom of the garden!)

I'm going to return to the talking animals now and leave you with a final word from Topsy.


You can find out more about the books here, and more about Enid herself here.


  1. Don't think I ever read any of those books. I was into the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. But I do love the drawings in all the books from back then. Glad to hear that your mom is doing better. Best wishes, Tammy

  2. Oh it was my favourite book of hers too. I'll never forget The Faraway Tree and Silky although have to admit I'd forgotten Moon-face and Dame Slap...(must be my advancing years) but it all came back to me. My nan was a bit sniffy about me reading Enid Blyton and thought I should be reading Wind in the Willows etc, luckily mum thought different and as long as I wanted to read it she didn't object. Also read Malory Towers (Myrtle Proops) SS and FF. Recently saw that film about her, so bizarre that she was wonderful at engaging with other children but not her own and was quite frankly, a bit of a cow.

  3. Oh I read all of the above and more including The Wishing chair and The Far Away Tree. I even got my daughter interested and she has read all of The Naughtiest little girl books. I al liked the St Clare's series which came before Malory towers. I have some of the older style books upstairs and I intend keeping them along with the ladybird books. Great post.

  4. I read Enid Blyton avidly and went on to do an English literature degree. The whole point of children reading is not that they can, but they do. Giving them worthy books will just put them off, reading should be enjoyable if you want them to do it. A sprinkle of Blyton encourages children to read and that then builds up momentum to read other things when ready. My daughter at nine was alternating Enid Blyton with Jane Austin and George Orwell, if she wanted to as well, she would re-read picture books from when she was 3. It was about choice and availability. Sh had access to all kinds of authors on the shelves ready and waiting and helped herself. She wasn't told some was 'hard' and some was 'easy'. Books don't work like that. She adored Enid Blyton, went on to get a masters and is now doing a literature phd. I know many authors had a good beginning with Enid Blyton too.

    Far from dumbing down, she was very informative and imaginative, I learnt a lot from her. She didn't go in for much characterisation though it is true. My childhood would have been miserable without her. I had those exact copies you show, the pictures are wonderful. The Magic Faraway series was just my favourite ever, but any Enid Blyton was so much enjoyed, from Pixies and imps, to Mr Pink Whistle and Merry Mr Twiddle, the naughtiest girl books and the school series. What about the Island of Adventure, or the Mountain of Adventure or the Sea of Adventure, or the adventurous four, or The Rubadubdub Mystery? So very many. And so terribly exiting many of them were, exploring pot holes and caves or getting stuck on ledges when the tide came in. Nail biting stuff!

    One of Blyton's daughter's reckons to have had an idyllic childhood, the other sees it very differently. I understand that: parents are not the same to different children. I have many Blyton books which I passed down to my daughter and have been stashed away, the same versions you have. I still read them from time to time. Just last week I read The Children of Willow Farm - the one after The Children of Cherry Tree Farm. They used to be banned from the library, which made me very sad. Bimbo and Topsy was one of my daughters absolute favourites, she used to laugh and laugh when she was very little and I read it too her. The first book she read herself was Enid Blyton, because she was too impatient to wait for me!

  5. My favourite book too, Jane and I have passed on my passion for it, to my eldest son. A much read book at bedtimes and many others by her too!
    Jacqui xx

  6. The Children of Cherry Tree Farm was one of my favourites. I loved it, and still use the information from it sometimes! I re read some Blyton recently, and it's such a history piece! When I read to the children I used to slightly alter the wording if I was uncomfortable with it!

  7. I love all those old children's books. I read so many and bought them for my children too.

  8. I do believe that I has this book - as I recognise the back cover!!! I loved EB books and read a lot as a child, especially the Mallory Towers Books and the St Clares series - I think is what it was called? I am glad that your Mum is doing so well, we await the pictures of the cartwheels!!! xx

  9. The first books I really remember reading on my own were the Secret Seven books alongside things like What Katy Did, Little Women, Lorna Doone and Children of the New Forest. I have vague memories of my Mum reading me books about Brer Rabbit which I think were by Enid Blyton but then she used to read to me from Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter as well - no wonder I love rabbits. Lovely post, Jane:)

  10. I wish she'd been more read here in the US because I think I would have enjoyed her books a lot as a child. I also used to write in my books, usually just my name, but it was probably a naughty thing to do all the same. :)

  11. Oh, I have several of the 'Rewards' books too - including all the Enchanted Wood ones! I love the stories and remember all the characters, the revolving lands at the top of the Faraway Tree and the adventures the children went on. I was a big fan of Amelia Jane as well.
    And like you, my books are full of scribbles. Crayons and storybooks are not a sensible combination - how I'm supposed to pass my collection down and warn against doing something I did myself is beyond me...
    Sarah :)

  12. I loved Enid Blyton books as a child and a few of mine have survived (Malory Towers and Famous Fives), which were bedtime reading for my two girls, so I had a good excuse to read them again as an adult! I remember desperately wanting to go to school at Malory Towers because my own school life didn't seem half as interesting and as for having your own island to explore with three friends and a dog, well ... :o) Lovely post Jane, have a great week.
    Jane x

  13. TOTALLY agree with you, Jane! Enid Blyton introduced me to the excitement of reading for pleasure. I devoured her books - whole series of them, Magic Faraway Tree, ST Clare's, Mallory Towers, Secret Seven, The Five books, The Castle of.....books, and yes, my favourite, The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, nearly 60 years later I can still remember them all. There was such TOSH in the 70's when she was deemed to incite class hatred with her middle class focus (I was a working class child in a council flat, who longed to go to boarding school, never did me any harm!!) and they said she was a poor writer who used 'too simple sentence construction'. Piffle! Having so enjoyed her books I was enthused enough to go on and read other, more complex authors so their silly clearing of her books from libraries was really quite ill-conceived. Great post, Jane! Lxx

  14. Lovely post. Mine was a deprived childhood, my mother strongly disapproved of all things Enid Blyton. For unfathomable reasons Noddy and Big Ears incensed her most. I did furtively sneak in a few Mallory Towers books once, aged about 10 ... the consequences were messy!

  15. An interesting post. I don't know anything at all about Enid Blyton as a person and I wasn't aware just how many books she wrote. I used to the famous five and secret seven books, but haven't read any of her other books.

  16. This post made me smile, I have all these and loved them all and now my daughter has re-read them all. They may be dated and my OH hates them, but to me they're magical and gave me my love of books



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