Enid Mary Blyton was born on 11th August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London. Her father, Thomas Blyton ignited Enid’s interest in nature, as well as gardening, art, music, literature and theatre. She attended St Christopher’s School in Beckenham, where she excelled in writing and in the early 1920s began to publish both stories, such as Child Whispers and London Zoo, and educational books. It is believed that Blyton wrote around 700 books (including collections of short stories) as well as magazine articles and poems. The sales of Blyton’s books are in excess of 500 million copies, and they have been translated into over 40 languages.
Probably best known for her childrens fiction, including the ‘Secret Seven’ and ‘Famous Five’ books Enid Blyton also published a wide range of non-fiction and educational books. For example, she edited educational books for adults, focusing on modern teaching practice as well as a series called the ‘Teaching Treasury.’ This aspect of her work is often under represented in assessments of her career with biographies consentrating on her fiction at the expense of her active involvement in education during the 1920s and 1930s. She was the Education Editor for the publishing house of George Newnes where her first husband, High Alexander Pollock, worked. She also had a weekly column in Junior “Teacher’s World,” for over ten years. In 1926 she edited the three volume “Teacher’s Treasury.” These books are divided into sub-sections, and each section covering different subjects that children can be taught, for example, the third volume covers Handiwork, History and Geography. Blyton also edited the six part series called “Modern Teaching.” These focus particularly on infant school and junior school and are are a guide for what teachers should attempt to teach children. For example; volume one focuses particularly on writing, reading and mathematics; the basic skills needed to learn, volume two takes a different route and focuses on history and geography as-well as psychology while the third volume focuses on handiwork, toys and games.
Blyton’s non fiction for children includes books on a wide range of topics including; animals, birds, naturetrains and The Queen. She also wrote “Stories from World History, a series including the titles; “Tales of the Romans,” “The Adventures of Odysseus” and “Tales of the Ancient Greeks and Persians.” all of which are well illustrated and is written in simple terms so that children can easily understand.
However, Blyton remains best known for her popular children’s literature. Although increasingly criticised from the 1950’s onwards being percieved out of tune with the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain, many of her works remained popular, possibly as they allow children to fantasise, and go on adventures by themselves. For example, the book cover of “Five on a Treasure Island” is colourful and immersive and offers a thrill of adventure.
The University Reserch Collections contain a wide range of Enid Blyton’s works, both fiction and non-fiction.
Anyone wishing to consult the collections can contact the Collections Team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org