About this Website and Its Reviewers
Want to contribute a review, article, or FanFic? Email Keith Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I grew up in Aldershot, a small town in Hampshire, England, and started reading Enid Blyton books when my mum dumped a random pile on the table and said, "You might like these. I read Enid Blyton books when I was young too." I don't remember exactly which books she gave me, but I know some of them were Famous Fives, and there were probably some Secret Sevens in there too. In any case I started collecting as many as I could find, buying them one by one with my pocket money and adding them to the shelf with the others.
I had a Blyton reading-buddy named Geoff, and between us we collected all the Find-Outer books and played out our own mysteries, even involving others (and thus introducing them to Enid Blyton, our good deed of the time). I wish I could remember which books I had collected, and how many of each series. I believe I had all the popular mystery and adventure books, plus a few others like The Adventurous Four and The Children of Cherry Tree Farm.
By the age of 12 I had sold off a lot of my books and started on a new "project"—a more grown-up series of books which promised a neverending quest to complete the series. Doctor Who had moved in, and the Famous Five were replaced by Cybermen, the Find-Outers by Daleks, and the Secret Seven by Sontarans. For the next few years I knew nothing else, and collected around 110 books, which at the time was every single Doctor Who book in existence. They were feverishly novelizing all the old episodes, so there were more to come... but around that time I decided I'd had enough of Doctor Who as well—and like a fool, sold all my books! Arrghhh!
Now I'm in my forties with a wife and daughter. I'm a self-employed website designer and have since 2001 lived in Georgia, USA. I'm also a children's sci-fi and fantasy author. I seem to have a natural interest in writing for children or young adults, and can't help thinking this is because of Enid Blyton and the influence she had on me when I was young. So now I've come full circle, and buying my old favorites and creating this site is not only a walk down memory lane but a good source for research. If I'm going to write for children, who better to use as a role model than the greatest children's author of all time?
Unfortunately there's just not enough time in the day to read and review every single Enid Blyton series, so the help of other fans is greatly appreciated! Since I started this site in December 2004, I've personally got through the Five Find-Outer Mysteries, the Adventure series, the Secret series, most of the Famous Fives, and am currently working on the Barney 'R' Mysteries. Meanwhile, Laura Canning has single-handedly completed Malory Towers and St Clare's, and others (Heather in Australia, Nakul Datar, and Nigel Rowe) have added to other series. Prabhu Viswanathan is also helping with one-off novels, a relatively new section.
So it is with grateful thanks that I introduce you to those who have contributed to this site so far...
Nigel is married with two sons, now grown up, born, bred and living in Salisbury, England. He is now retired, but worked for South Western Ambulance Service as a Paramedic for thirty years. Apart from numerous suggestions, comments and a generally healthy interest in this site, Nigel has contributed reviews and scans of illustrations for the Famous Five pages.
I can't remember my first Blyton, but I do remember going to the public library and taking out Secret Seven, Famous Five and Mystery titles. Money was very scarce in those days, so owning books was really out of the question. I can remember seeing books in W H Smith, obviously with their dust-jackets, and thinking, "I wish I could buy them!" I did get copies for birthdays, but most of my reading was courtesy of Salisbury Public Library!
There were plenty of Blyton's in the school library. However, an anti-Blyton phase was starting in the 50s/60s, and we were scoffed at for selecting them. I was a member of the Famous Five Club, and lost my badge. I recall a monitor bringing it into the class to see if it belonged to anyone, and on claiming it was made to feel very foolish.
I grew out of Enid Blyton on reaching secondary school. It wasn't until much later that I found a few old Famous Five books and read them. They brought back such memories from my childhood. It was fascinating how the pictures in my mind were the same as when I was 7 or 8! I was hooked.
My turning point was finding The Enid Blyton Society on the web. Hey, here were adults (and certainly not weirdos) who loved Enid's work! I then discovered this site, and with the Yahoo! Group, my world was complete! The Internet became my source for tracking down copies. Up till then, I had made the odd purchase from a second-hand book shop. Now I had the pick of Enid's books.
Although the Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Adventure series, and Secret Seven ranked among my favourites, I love all Enid's work. I fondly remember discovering Noddy, how transfixed I was by the endpapers illustration of Toyland. Her imagination really swelled in the Faraway Tree collection. It was hard to believe that one person could write so many different stories.
Thankfully, I am not thought of as strange, well not by everyone, anyway. I don't keep my love of Blyton a secret. I am mystified as to how so many adults read "Harry Potter" in public, but wouldn't be seen dead with an Enid Blyton. My dream world is to stretch out in the garden by the pond, with a pint of beer, and a good Blyton.
Julie is in her mid-fifties, so still young enough to enjoy Enid Blyton! She lives in Cornwall, the perfect Blytonesque setting for anyone who loves the Famous Five. Julie's favorite book is Five Get Into Trouble, and her monicker on the Enid Blyton Society forums is Julie2owlsdene.
I live in the middle of Cornwall, and have one daughter and three lovely grand children, and another one on the way. Although not yet at retiring age (in my middle fifties) I did retire from my job as a Cardiographer for the Cardiac Dept. of our local hospital, 6 years ago, to help my daughter care for her first born son, Callum, who was two at that time, and is now eight years old. He has cerebral palsy, amongst other conditions, caused after his birth, and requires 24/7 care. My grand-daughter Stephanie is almost five, and Brynley is three.
My love of Enid Blyton began when I first read The Treasure Hunters, aged about eight. From then on I was hooked. If a book had Enid's famous signature, I would read it, whether it be from the library, borrowed from a friend, or bought with pocket money I'd saved. I always remember the joy of going into a book shop and being surrounded by books of Enid Blyton, and not knowing which to choose. Enid was my escapism into another world and still is to this day. I still enjoy re-reading the many books I have in my collection and adding more as I come across the ones I haven't yet read. In my later years I began to read about Enid herself, buying Barbara Stoney's book and Imogen's, wanting to learn more about Enid, her life and her family.
I still find time to indulge in my hobby of watercolour painting, entering art exhibitions from which I've sold a few, and taking on the odd commission which comes my way. Being treasurer of our local art group also involves me into organizing various events for our members.
Living in Cornwall is the ideal location for inspiration for my art, with the beautiful scenery and rugged coastline that surrounds us.
Heather from Australia
Heather is a mother of two from a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. She works as an Office Administrator in a small software company. She was born in 1978 in a small town in Victoria's north east and moved around a lot as a child. She has kindly provided a number of book reviews as well as scans of illustrations for the Mystery Series, Secret Seven, and about half of the Famous Five books.
I first came across Enid Blyton books as a six year old when my parents bought an old school house in a remote part of Victoria. The town had been deserted when the gold ran out (I think around the 1950s), and the school house was still intact—as if the children had gone out to play and never come back. The writing was still on the blackboard, the inkwells were full of dry ink, and there were old books in a huge book cupboard. Some of these were Enid Blyton's Secret Seven. I read them several times, and over the years compiled more and more of the older style cloth-cover books from the 50s and 60s, from op shops (they cost about 20 cents then, back in the 80s), including mostly Secret Seven and Five-Find Outers books. I also had one or two Famous Fives and, from memory, a Brer Rabbit, Tales of Toyland, and The Enchanted Wood. Not a huge collection, but I did love them. I must have read them all at least fifty times—living in such an isolated part of Victoria I was only able to go to school once a week and did home schooling the rest of the time. We had no TV and no other children to play with other than my brothers and sisters, so Blyton books were my escape into a place of mystery and excitement.
I kept re-reading these old favourites occasionally even into my early teens, especially when I was ill or upset. They became more of a calming influence after the stories had been read so many times the excitement of the plot had worn off. I finally gave them to my younger brother who also loved reading anything he could get his hands on. That was the last I saw of them. My mother decided one day that they were "just old books" and threw them away after I had moved out of home and married.
That was when I decided to replace the books I had lost. I scoured old bookstores and antique shops and replaced those books I had before, but by then I had the bug and wanted a more complete collection. I have since collected well over a hundred books and am still going, much to my husband's chagrin—he just doesn't understand! His only consolation is that they are an investment that will gain value...not that I would ever sell! I have also found many others who feel the same way as me via internet forums—at least I know I'm not alone! My husband keeps buying me new "adult" books to try to cure me of my affliction. They are great to read, and certainly very stimulating—but nothing can beat curling up with a cup of coffee and going off into the dreamworld of Blyton characters, where adventures and mysteries abound, bad guys always get caught, and children escape to faraway lands. What could be better?
Laura Canning is from Ireland, and she wrote all the textual content for the Malory Towers and St Clare's pages (except for one article added afterwards).
I'm a writer from Belfast and have been reading Enid Blyton since I was about five. Rereading the Famous Five and Malory Towers was my guilty secret at university, until reading cultural studies and pop culture let me claim that to still read kids' books age 30 is actually to study post-war British culture (ahem). I'm moving into a more academic study of the books now, if only for my own self-respect, and am working on a book proposal on themes in Blyton's work.
Prabhu Viswanathan is a shoemaker from India. He's contributed reviews for various Enid Blyton novels.
Have always enjoyed the world of make-believe. It's a healthy place in which to retire every evening after work. Am unmarried but am in a longterm relationship.
Love kids, horses (though not much contact on city streets), and am a golf addict. Don't play so much as love to watch. Crazy cricket fan, and in general a sports freak. Deeply patriotic! Am an anglophile... love anything to do with the English language and the English countryside!
Live on the coast during the working year, and sometimes escape to the hills for some summer relief. My favourite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Enid Blyton, of course, is not within the sphere of this discussion.
I like Phantom comics (Strength of Ten Men, Ghost Who Walks), Mandrake the Magician (gestures hypnotically), Richie Rich... all these being memories of childhood. Given the opportunity, I'd live life forever as a school-going boy. Now, of course, I'm an office-going boy!
I remember the first Blyton book I got my hands on was Naughty Amelia Jane. From then on I devoured them as fast as I could get them. Some of the best times of my childhood were spent in an old bookshop, reading Blyton; I couldn't wait till I got home. I thought I had grown out of them in my teens, but secretly, I couldn't get Fatty and the others out of my mind. I finally gave in to temptation and found Blyton's world was as thrilling at 34 as it was at 6.
While the Five Find-Outer series has always been my favourite, as an adult I read her Family Books with a deeper appreciation, revelling in her simple worlds where missing parents return safe and sound, financial problems are solved by finding hidden treasure, and there's always a smashing picnic to round things off.
Nakul Datar from Los Angeles, USA, is currently earning a Bachelors in Computer Engineering at USC. He created some of the textual content for the Secret Seven and Barney Mysteries pages.
I got addicted to Enid Blyton because of the picturesque settings, the details (such as the amount of coconut on macaroons), and of course the ginger beer. The premise of the stories, while being complicated enough (especially the Five Find-Outer mysteries), never required multiple passes to understand it. And I liked the fact that the lives of the children continue while they are investigating the mysteries.
I always liked the wording, which I felt was in a conversational tone and not like something spit out of a theasaurus. The books were never unnecessarily forbidding. Though most facts relate to real life (or did, in her time), she did not overdose the books with too much reality; we can see the grim nature of the real world by reading the news!—and besides, I would not have wanted to learn that the world was full of thorns at age 9.
Lastly, the moral principles described in the books hold true irrespective of the generation, and I believe that the lessons learnt by readers from Amelia Jane three decades back would differ very little from lessons learnt by readers today.