Saturday, 1 January 2011

Don't they look pretty?

Sat there on the shelf in Daphne's room, my Enid Blyton books look vintage-tastic with their chalky colours and retro illustrations, but they do make me a little uneasy.

I read Blyton extensively as a child, from the Famous Five through the school books to the fairytales. Famous Five (and the Secret Seven) held a ploddy, bread-and-butter place in my reading. I'm sure I enjoyed them at the time but they never set my world alight. The school books, Mallory Towers for example, may as well have been labelled fairytales, so far removed were they from the life I led. I enjoyed these more, though as a class-aware adult who cringes at anything 'posher' than a Waitrose carrier bag, their appeal is much more limited these days.

It's for these reasons that the shelves hold mainly the fairy stories. The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and the collections of short stories about brownies, fairies and goblins which were always my favourites.

But I have a dilemma.

It's well known that Blyton's work is less than PC to say the least. I've never accepted that just because something was 'of it's time' it excuses continued exposure to very offensive material. And some of this stuff could be considered very offensive. Racist,and with questionable attitudes about child discipline. But nostalgia draws me to them. Do I read them to my children? No (although in honesty I tried once, but the antiquated language and subject matter rendered them incomprehensible to my audience). I have to accept that whilst they are on the shelf, they may be read by the little people. I guess I will offer some sort of precursory explanation whilst they are small, but what shall I say?

I have no point to make here, am genuinely a bit torn. But I do know I would be sorry to lose these from the shelves if it ever came to it.


  1. My eldest just got the Magic Faraway Tree bookset for xmas & I have no problem with her reading them. She is 8 though, so it's pretty easy to discuss any questions she has about what she has read. I think I might read them again as well, as I dont remember anything 'questionable' about them!! They look lovely on the shelf though!!xx

  2. Thanks Lisa, I think post 1980 copies have been edited so most are OK. I LOVED the Faraway Tree, and can't remember anything dodgy, apart from sniggering at Fanny's name......

  3. I LOVED Enid Blyton! I re-read the Mallory Towers books a couple of years ago and I'm pretty sure I read all of the secret seven and famous five and I know i've read all of the faraway tree books. <3

  4. I feel the same, I grew up reading my mum's books like "Sally Ann sees it through" they are very A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME, and basically women shouldn't aspire to anything more :S. I don't like how Enid Blyton always makes the Gollywogs evil either...