Inspired by several topics of conversation on the Enid Blyton Society Forums, “Fatty vs Julian”, I want to examine this comparison and why I believe it’s wrong to make it.
As a staunch fan of Julian Kirrin and not a fan of the ‘great’ Frederick Algernon Trotterville a.k.a Fatty, you might suspect that I will be biased towards Julian, but I will try not to be.
Now I hear you asking “Why can’t we compare Julian and Fatty?” To me the answer is quite simple in its way; they are too different.
When these comparisons come about, especially on the Enid Blyton Society Forums, Julian comes off rather worse. His character does not appear to be as popular as Fatty. For example in polls on the Enid Blyton Society Forums people were asked to select their favourite out of the two characters in 2006 and 2007.
In 2006, 90 votes were cast on the question “Who do you prefer? Julian or Fatty?”: Fatty won this poll with 57 votes (63%) leaving Julian trailing behind with 33 votes (37%).
A similar poll appeared in 2007, with just 21 votes cast, Fatty received 13 votes (62%) and Julian just 8 votes (38%).
From these two polls it would seem the die has been cast: Fatty is more popular than Julian (at least on the Enid Blyton Society Forums as it yet to be tested on another sample of people to check its validity). These statistics can give you a frame work to test the hypothesis that Fatty is more popular than Julian, but outside of Blyton forums, the story may be different. A reason why this might be is that in other circles, Enid Blyton is known more for her Famous Five than the Five Find-Outers which leads me to the point that universally, Julian may be considered the more popular character.
However, this isn’t the reason for this blog (unfortunately I don’t have the time or the resources to collect a representative sample of quantitative data on the more popular Enid Blyton male protagonist – anyway, there would be other characters to consider).
If you consider the popularity of these two characters within the Enid Blyton Society, the preference is clear BUT – and it is a big but in my mind – can you really, honestly and truly compare these two characters?
Some of the comments regarding these polls describe Fatty as one of a kind, a master of disguise, and a genius. Fatty naturally assumes the role of leader in the Five Find Outers, not because he is older than the other boys in the Five Find Outers (that would be Larry!) but because, as Fiona puts it:
“Fatty was deemed so clever and brilliant he was made leader.”
Whereas Julian assumed leadership of the Famous Five because he was the oldest member of the five and wouldn’t be one to take orders from his younger brother Dick. (In either series a female leader would never be considered.)
Fatty’s rare and somewhat unbelievable talents in disguise, ventriloquism, and as a linguist certainly put him miles apart from almost every Blyton character, not to mention Julian. Even with his brilliance, Fatty is not without fault. He can be boastful and arrogant which usually doesn’t provoke a reaction greater than teasing from the rest of the Find-Outers.
So where does that leave us in regards to Julian? Julian Kirrin has always been a favourite character of mine: admittedly not so much through the books but the 1996/7 TV series at first, but later on I grew to love his character more and more.
Julian Kirrin is the kind of boy I had always wished I knew: caring, in charge, forthright. Fatty always reminded me of the show off boys at school. Julian is and tends to be my dream boy.
Anyway, back to facts. As already mentioned, Julian assumes leadership of the Famous Five because of his age and maturity, not because of any fantastical talents. However Julian proves to be an outstanding leader: admittedly he gets it wrong sometimes (Five go down to the Sea) but he leads the Five with common sense and a sense of duty. Well someone has to put George in her place!
Let me ask you this: How would Fatty fair against George Kirrin? I’d like to see him try!
I know that part of the problem with Julian as a character is that he is “of his time”. Nowadays those traits that make him appeal to the old fashioned girl inside of me are no longer desirable. No woman in the 21st Century really wants a man who would tell her what to do. Julian is part of a class of men who are slowly dying out. People in a relationship today expect that workloads around the house should be shared equally, and not that the woman was supposed to play house!
Another part of Julian’s personality that puts him at odds with people is that he can be quite pompous on occasion (Five on a Hike Together is a prime example!). George does try to push these boundaries on occasion by asserting her favourite phrase ‘as good as a boy’ (Five go off to Camp is a good example). Underneath all the pomp and circumstance, Julian means well and is charged with a great responsibility in looking after everyone, and I do like a man in authority. *fans self* 😉
The point I seem to be failing to make is that it is hard to compare the two characters and get a conclusive answer as to who is the better character. Many will disagree with me, I’m sure.
I do think that Fatty needs to be in a category of his own because of he is one of a kind and too different to Julian who is compared to him unfavourably which is not fair.
In my mind, characters that you could compare Julian to more fairly would be Larry Daykin (the original leader of the Five Find-Outers), Philip Mannering and Jack Trent from the Adventure series, and Barney from the Barney Mysteries. These characters would probably be a better comparison to Julian Kirrin, than constantly comparing him to Frederick Algernon Trotterville.
With that said, the question “Should we ever compare Julian Kirrin and Frederick Algernon Trotterville?” still needs to be answered. My answer?
My answer is that these two shouldn’t really be compared but when they are, the statistics available to me show that Julian often loses unfairly. Instead, Fatty should have his own category because none of Blyton’s other characters would be able to match him. However, Julian has contemporaries amongst her other characters, which would make the comparison fairer for him.
One last word: Fatty may have a category all to himself, but I’d take steady, masterful Julian over the boastful and arrogant Frederick any day.