Writer of children’s books

Yesterday, the right-leaning part of the population who seem to believe that culture as they know it is in danger of being cancelled (whatever that may mean. Ed.), was fulminating against yet another of those left-leaning organisations – English Heritage. Its crime: amending its online information about the children’s author Enid Blyton to reflect more accurately her writing and views.

While English Heritage’s blue plaque commemorating Blyton remains unchanged, the charity’s online information about her now details the problematic aspects of her writing and views.

In particular, the information on Blyton has been amended to describe her writing as including racism and xenophobia whilst lacking literary merit.

To illustrate Blyton’s racism, English Heritage’s online content notes that in 1960 Macmillan refused to publish Blyton’s children’s novel The Mystery That Never Was, noting her “faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia”. As a child, I can’t say I remember noticing the racism and xenophobia so much on the very rare occasions I picked up Blyton as a child (the golliwogs should have started the alarm bells ringing. Ed.), but the lack of literary merit was clearly apparent to my developing brain. Her work came across as simplistic and formulaic, but my brother loved her stories, a matter in which he persisted despite the mocking and urging from my sister and me that he read something less lightweight.

Although she did not specifically mention Blyton by name, it was clear that actor and comedian Joyce Grenfell clearly had Enid in her sights in her monologue Writer Of Children’s Books, as embedded below.

2 thoughts on “Writer of children’s books”

  1. Hilary Midgley

    I do remember the growing pile of Enid Blyton books and realising that they were all the same. I wasn’t aware of xenophobia or racism. I think that back then we tended to accept things more just as they were written. We didn’t question things much. That said, I was aware that the characters in the novels led a very charmed existence which was very different from our own working class, council house background. I like to believe that children question more what they are reading today. I certainly hope so.

    1. Steve Woods

      That’s a very well-made point re challenging/accepting xenophobia and racism.

      It was a very different world back then, with the first steps to clamp down on both of the above evils only coming in 1965 with Race Relations Act, which banned racial discrimination in public places and made the promotion of hatred on the grounds of ‘colour, race, or ethnic or national origins’ an offence.

      These initial tentative moves were consolidated in the 1968 Race Relations Act that made it illegal to refuse housing, employment, or public services to a person on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins in Great Britain.

Comments are closed.