Enid Blyton is now officially the “38th best thing that people like about Britain.” I must disagree on this point; Ms. Blyton’s children’s novels rank much higher than 38th on a list of things I like about England.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to discover Enid Blyton’s books at Harrod’s one afternoon when I was a kid. Nothing like being on a trip and running out of stuff to read. I adored the first Malory Towers book, and made my mother go back to Harrod’s the next day to buy me everything else that had Enid Blyton’s name on it. It was 1972.
Unfortunately, Enid Blyton never did become as famous in the U.S. as she was in England. It was difficult to locate copies of the books I was missing in the Malory Towers series, and impossible to find more than 2 of the books in the St. Clare’s series. It was easier to find the Famous Five and Secret Seven adventures. You can even find the occasional copy for sale today at wonderful children’s bookstores such as The Little Shop of Stories on the square in Decatur, GA.
Enid Blyton died in 1968, years before I found her stories. Her legacy, however, lived on through the Enid Blyton Children’s Foundation, which has donated more than £500,000 to children’s charities over the years. The foundation is about to close, though, because the Payments Council in Britain has announced that they will stop cheque clearing in the near future. Unwilling to change to new technology, Ms. Blyton’s daughter has decided to donate the foundation’s £750,000 endowment to Seven Stories, a national centre for children's books, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
What a wonderful thing to be able to give hours of reading bliss to children around the world! Enid Blyton’s stories might be dated today, but those of us who grew up reading them smile when we think of the Famous Five going off on another adventure. What lies between the covers of that precious book? Read it and find out.