Enid Mary Blyton, born 11th August 1897 and died 28th November 1968, was probably the twentieth century's most successful writer of children's books. A phenomenally prolific author, she wrote an estimated 800 books during a literary career that spanned more than forty years. In 2007 she was the fifth most popular author in the world, placing her ahead of Shakespeare.
Enid Blyton trained as a teacher and qualified in 1918 after which she taught for several years at schools in London. She wrote in her spare time and in 1920 she renewed her acqaintance with school-friend Phyllis Chase who was working as an illustrator. The pair decided to submit work together, a turning point in their careers. Enid's first book, Child Whispers, is published in 1922 and the following year she met Hugh Pollock, editor at George Newnes publishers, whom she was to marry in 1924.
Although she wrote hundreds of books for young and older children, Enid Blyton is probably best known for her successful 'series' such as the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Adventure and Mystery books. The Noddy series of books have also been extremely popular, and many of Enid's works have been adapted for television. In addition to these famous series, Enid Blyton wrote numerous books on the natural world, Biblical subjects and re-told tales from the Old and New testaments.
The stories of Enid Blyton frequently centre on the fantasies of children, who are presented as self-sufficient and able to stand up to their adult adversaries. The majority of the children's books fall into three distinct types:-
1) Stories in which children find themselves in unexpected or unusual situations in which they have adventures or solve crimes. Examples of this type ar the Famous Five (also known as Five Find-Outers), the Secret Seven and the Adventure Series.
2) Stories which describe life at boarding school, for example the Malory Towers, St. Clare's School and Naughtiest Girl books.
3) Stories which are fantastic and involve the use of magic and fantasy creatures such as elves, fairies and goblins. Examples of this last type are the Magic Faraway Tree series and Wishing Chair books.
Despite some criticism of the formulaic nature of her writing, and the re-cycling of stories, the works of Enid Blyton have remained hugely popular and are translated into over 90 languages worldwide.
Long may this popularity continue!
If you would like to find out more about the life and literary career of Enid Blyton, why not visit the official Enid Blyton Society webpage? It is packed full of fascinating details and news about Blyton events such as the annual Enid Blyton Day Fair.