University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

Enid Blyton: A Literary Life

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave
Number of pages320
Edition2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-76331-2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2021

Abstract


The rise, fall and resurgence of interest in Enid Blyton and her work represents many of the changes and fluctuations in literary taste and critical approaches that have taken place over the last sixty years. In her lifetime Blyton was a widely-respected figure whose stories of adventure, detection and boarding school life (amongst others) brought her immense popularity. Yet in the years leading up to, and following her death in 1968, attacks on an outlook that came to be regarded as old-fashioned and snobbish ensured that she was transformed from a figure of admiration into one of suspicion - and occasionally derision.

As far as her writing is concerned, the gap between Blyton’s popular and critical reputations remains wide. Blyton’s novels tend to be criticized a) for their “thinness” and b) for their formulaic qualities. Their author’s sole strength is seen to be an ability to tell a good story using a “child-like” version of the English language which challenges no-one.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Blyton’s death (2018) this biography takes issue with the popular image of Blyton and her work. Drawing on newly discovered letters and archival material it argues that for all the vitriol thrown at her, Blyton’s career tells an impressive story about the value of a lower-middle-class woman’s initiative, enterprise and sheer hard work. Her writing was a key part of the twentieth century literary scene and deserves to be acknowledged as such.

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