Following the BBC4 biopic on Enid Blyton (which I missed but will have to look out for on iPlayer) the writer has been the subject of not a few reports and blogs in the last few days. She’s certainly a writer that provokes strong reactions one way of the other.
I have to say I was an ardent fan when I was younger, from the Secret Seven to Malory Towers and St. Clare’s I consumed them all greedily when I was at primary school. I couldn’t tell you exactly what age I was reading them, but I do know that an anthology of Famous Five books was the first ‘grown up’ (i.e. not picture book) writing I read. (I was excited enough to go running through to my parents room in my pyjamas when I realised I could read the pages, so I must have been pretty damn young.)
From Blyton I moved on to modern stuff like the saccharine Sweet Valley High books, Point Horrors and other elective choices such as the Just William books, the James Herriot series and most of Dick Francis’ back catalogue.
Most of the people that level charges against Blyton complain about her simplistic writing style and the fact that a lot of her sensitivities are at odds with the more PC ones we hold today. In fact, when I read The Faraway Tree as research for a writing job a few years ago I balked at some of it. But it’s for children, and in my opinion children need to read all types of texts and be exposed to all sorts of influences so that they can create their own value system and I don’t see why Blyton shouldn’t be one of them.
I’m really curious to know the childhood influences of anyone willing, care to share?