Enid Mary Blyton was born in 1897 and from a young age loved telling stories to her younger brothers, Hanly and Carey.
She qualified as a teacher in 1918, and in 1921 won a writing competition and after her writing was accepted in major children’s magazines. In 1922 her first book Child Whispers was published and by 1923 she was writing a regular column for the teachers’ magazine Teachers World as well as publishing her second book Responsive Singing Games.
1925 brought with it a wealth of material from Blyton including Silver and Gold, and The Tales of Brer Rabbit (retold).
Enid had been writing for the magazine Sunny Stories for Little Folks since 1927, and in 1937 it was renamed Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories Magazine with a change of format, where full length stories could be serialised over many weeks. The first was Adventures of the Wishing Chair which was then published as a proper novel at the end of the year. Mr Galliano’s Circus and The Secret Island were serialised and then published in 1938 and still remain popular today.
Blyton continued to write popular books in 1939 like The Enchanted Wood and Naughty Amelia Jane, followed by several in 1940 such as Mister Meddle’s Mischief, The Secret of Spiggy Holes, The Treasure Hunters, The Naughtiest Girl in the School and The Children of Cherry Tree Farm.
In 1941 Blyton started her second school series with The Twins at St Clare’s, as well as continuing the Secret Series with The Secret Mountain and writing The Adventurous Four.
1942 was to be an important year for Blyton as she launched the series that almost everybody would remember her for years to come. That series is of course The Famous Five with their first adventure Five on a Treasure Island. The Famous Five went on to have a grand total of 21 full-length adventures as well as several short story exploits. A Famous Five book was published every year from 1942 until 1963, with the exception of 1959.
Blyton also wrote new instalments for Mr Galliano’s Circus, Naughtiest Girl, St Clare’s and the next book in the Farm Series, The Children of Willow Farm in 1942.
Another major series of Blyton’s arrived in 1943. The Five Find-Outers burst on to the scene in their first adventure The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage and had solved fourteen more mysteries by 1961. Frederick Algernon Trotteville aka Fatty, a larger than life personality who leads the Find-Outers in a majority of their adventures is arguably one of Blyton’s most unique characters. Sequels to the St Clare’s and Secret Series were also published in 1943.
The Adventure Series was the next of Blyton’s series to be launched with The Island of Adventure in 1944. Seven more adventures featuring Jack, Philip, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Kiki the Parrot were written between 1946 and 1955.
Two St Clare’s books were released in 1944, The Second Form at St Clare’s and Claudine at St Clare’s. The final St Clare’s book was then published in 1945. The next year Blyton’s most famous school series, Malory Towers was published.
1945 saw Blyton’s library extend even more, with several popular stand-alone books published. Hollow Tree House was one of the more popular stand-alone titles. The Caravan Family was also published this year as the first of six books of family stories for younger readers.
Skipping forward through Blyton’s wealth of books to 1949 where another of her popular stand-alones comes to light in the form of Those Dreadful Children alongside two new series appeared in 1949; The Secret Seven and The Barney Mystery Series.
The Secret Seven series ran for 15 adventures from 1949 until 1963 and was aimed at younger children. Today a lot of people see the Secret Seven as a starter for children before they read the Famous Five. The Secret Seven solve mysteries in their local community, and meet in the shed at the bottom of Peter and Janet’s garden. The Seven children have their own S.S. badges and a password to get into the shed.
The Barney Mystery Series which also appeared in 1949, introduced Barney, Snubby and Roger and Diana Lynton as well as their pets Looney the dog and Barney’s monkey, Miranda. Barney is a circus boy who has been trying to find his father since the death of his mother. Like many other of Blyton’s books, mysteries are the main focus of the stories. There were six Barney Mysteries written, starting in 1949 with The Rockingdown Mystery and ending in 1959. Interestingly the Barney’s Mysteries are sometimes referred to by a different name; The “R” Series, because each of the six book titles begin with that letter.
One other series that has not been mentioned so far, is that chap with the bell on his hat from Toy Town, Noddy. He is the character that is most associated with Enid Blyton since his creation 60 years ago. Noddy is extremely popular and has a great wealth of merchandise attached to his name. Blyton originally wrote only 24 Noddy books, but he had the greatest timespan of all of her series. The first Noddy book was written in 1942 and the series continued until 1963.
This is an only an overview of Enid Blyton’s best known books and series. Blyton is known to have written over seven hundred books in her time, including six under the name Mary Pollock, though no one is quite sure what her overall total was.
For more information on these books as well as everything else Enid was known to have written, you can delve into the wonderful Cave of Books at http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/cave-of-books.php.
Now only one question remains: What is your favourite book or series from Enid Blyton?