Saturday, 17 March 2012

I do not have many books

by Enid Blyton.
I was not particularly aware of this until a child was searching my shelves and remarked on the fact. "Don't you collect Enid Blyton?" I was asked. Why should I? I collect children's books. I have a particular interest in the post 1945 era especially that period stretching from the 50's and 60's into the 70's. Enid Blyton was around then. She was still writing in the earlier part of that time. It just happens Enid Blyton is not one of the authors I collect.
I was given several of her books as a child. I still have them. I cannot remember when I last read them. My nephews did not bother with them. They had other things to read. Their school library certainly did not have Enid Blyton on the shelves. For a long time no library in this state had Enid Blyton on the shelves. As a teacher-librarian I was not permitted to place her books on the shelves of the school library. It did not stop the children from reading her work. They borrowed it from one another if they happened to have any of it. I was asked why they were not allowed to have it at school.  The official answer was because she was not a good writer and there were other, better books to read.
The Whirlwind read the Enid Blyton I have. She borrowed one or two more. By age nine she had well and truly outgrown it and grown into other writers. According to her Enid Blyton was "okay if you want to read something but you can't be bothered reading much".
At teacher training college we were told that Enid Blyton was like Mills and Boon "pink paperback". I have never read a Mills and Boon "pink paperback" so I do not know if it is a fair comparison. I did look at one once while waiting for an elderly neighbour. The first page bored me but perhaps that was that particular book. I do not think Enid Blyton bored me as a child. I read the books because they were there. I read them along with things like "The Loom of Language", "Genetics and you" and "My Family and Other Animals" - books which happened to be in the bookshelf in our living area.
If a book appeared on my horizon I read it - or tried to read it. I struggled through some of  "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" and even dipped into "Sons and Lovers" - a book that appeared on my father's university reading list after the ban was lifted.(My father did not stop me looking at it. He was wise. I did not persist with it. I thought the book was "boring". )
Enid Blyton was there in the background. If I came across one I would read it. If there was nothing else to read I would read Enid Blyton. One or two children I knew longed to collect "all the Famous Five" or some other series. I did not. There were other books on my list.
I wonder what I would make of Enid Blyton now? Should I look for my copy of "The Castle of Adventure" and try to read it again? I am not really sure I could be bothered. What do you think? Could you be bothered?


the fly in the web said...

I read a few of hers when young...but there were better books available both at home and at the library so she rated for me with the back of the cereal packet.

Donna Hosie said...

I absolutely loved The Famous Five. I had every single book and my grandad even made me a special bookcase to display them all on.

I wouldn't read them again now - far too dated, but I cherish the childhood memory because she was the author who made me love books.

jeanfromcornwall said...

No, don't bother - it would be bound to disappoint. like you I read some Enid Blyton, just because it was there, but like with fly in the web, so was the cereal packet.

How wise your Father was - I tried never to censor my tribe's reading, but if they reached for a particularly gory thriller I would mention what it was like and say they might not really enjoy it very much. They trusted me! Most gratifying!

Alison Morton said...

Not an Enid Blyton reader as such. I read a few, but thought they were silly. I remember loving fairy tales, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Rosemary Sutcliffe and above all, Violet Needham's Stormy Petrel series.

And yes, I do go back and read them all...

the fly in the web said...

And now it's been bothering me....who was the chap who wrote historical novels for kids....Geoffrey something?
I suppose eventually the subconscious will bring it up - I can 'see' his books on the shelf, but not the name...!

catdownunder said...

Fly in the Web, I think you mean Geoffrey Trease? Not all of the books were historical but there were quite a few.
You are right Jean - too many other things to enjoy reading and, like Alison, I sometimes need to go back to something familiar.
Donna, I always thought it was a mistake to ban Blyton for the very reason that she was the cause of some children learning to love reading. Aren't grandfathers who do that sort of thing marvellous?

Eni said...

i too used to be fascinated with Enid Blyton's books as a child in that I even attempted writing a novel based on some of her characters. Though that plan fell through, much later, I was able to write and publish a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (
Stephen Isabirye

Jan said...

I read The Folk of the Faraway tree when I was six or seven, but that was all of Blyton's work that I ever read. I spent the rest of the time encouraging my school friends to read a "proper book." I was probably a smug little reading snob in many ways.

I was allowed from an early age to read any of the many books in the house. I was advised not read one in particular. Advised but not forbidden to read it. It was about MauMAu atrocities in the uprising. Very graphic. Much later I realised Dad's common sense. I did not enjoy it when I read it, but because it wasn't forbidden, I had no real desire to sneak a read.