Enid Blyton Turns 120
Today (August 11th) is Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday! Enid Blyton was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, churning out hundreds of books in her lifetime (some say the count is around 700!). She is a beloved children’s author, with original and updated versions of her books still massively popular today.
Her best known series are the Famous Five, Secret Seven, and Noddy books. Her writing was largely unplanned; she wrote the events of her stories as they came to her. The sheer quantity of writing she produced caused suspicion that she was employing ghostwriters, but this was something that she always denied.
Arguably her most popular series, The Famous Five follows the adventures of four children: Julian, the eldest and their leader; George, the rebellious tomboy and cousin to the other three siblings; Dick, the cheeky but reliable middle-child, the same age as George; Anne, the youngest, who scares easily but is ultimately very resourceful; and George’s dog, Timmy, who is loyal and affectionate.
There are 21 Famous Five novels in total, and although most of them are set in the school holidays, the children barely age at all. While this may be seen as a chronological oversight on Blyton’s part, their perpetual youth is part of what makes the series so appealing: the characters get to stay young forever, always finding new adventures with no time limit on their fun.
Blyton wrote books for children of all ages, as well as producing poems, essays, and articles on a vast range of subjects, and contributing to various magazines. Her writing made a huge impact on children’s fiction, practically defined the genre for a large portion of the twentieth century, and certainly shaped its future.