Barbara Stoney's Biography of Enid Blyton
It's back! First published in 1974, Barbara Stoney's highly regarded Biography of Enid Blyton is considered by most to be the best of the bunch. Sadly, for years the biography has been unavailable except via secondhand bookshops, but now, finally, the revised edition has been re-released in paperback form and is available to online from either Amazon.co.uk (UK) or Amazon.com (USA).
In the forward by Gillian Baverstock (one of Enid Blyton's daughters) she explains a little about why Barbara Stoney was chosen, and I'll paraphrase some of it here. In her later years, Enid expressed the hope that her biography might be written by her daughter, Gillian. In the months following Enid's death, Gillian found she just didn't have enough time on her hands to commit to such an involved process as writing a biography, and decided to wait a few years. But when a close friend of Enid's died, Gillian realized that the writing of the biography could no longer be delayed, especially as many of Enid's other close friends and acquaintances were elderly.
A number of people wrote to offer their services as Enid's biographer, but none seemed suitable... until Barbara Stoney came along. She had been working on the life of a master thatcher, who had taken her along to Old Thatch where Enid and her daughters lived until 1938. Barbara's interest in the author grew from there, and it turned out she knew more about those days at Old Thatch than Gillian herself, even though Gillian had spent her childhood there! It seemed Barbara Stoney had an instinctive understanding of the sort of person Enid was, and this led to her being chosen.
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Barbara Stoney's Biography of Enid Blyton (Revised)
I have a copy of the original biography, bought secondhand, but it's important to note that this new, revised edition really is revised and contains up-to-date book listings and facts that were found to be inaccurate in the original. That's not to say Barbara didn't do her job well first time round – on the contrary, virtually all the book listings you'll find printed elsewhere are based upon Barbara's intense research in the early seventies. Those who offer a book listing of Blyton's work, especially on the internet, are usually just cribbing from others, who in turn have cribbed from Barbara's biography; this is evidenced by the fact that the same minor errors made in the seventies crop up time and time again in listings today.
There are a few exceptions to this, notably Tony Summerfield of the Enid Blyton Society, who has done his own research over many years. After scouring the countryside and spending many, many hours on the road (and probably a fortune on petrol, coffee and snacks), Tony has produced an even more definitive book listing. This was added to the Enid Blyton Society website earlier in 2006, and is now available in printed form in this new edition of Barbara Stoney's Biography.
For those wanting to know all about Enid Blyton's life – her parents, where Enid grew up, the piano lessons she didn't want, her days as a school teacher, her first published stories and poems, and then her launch into novels – you MUST buy this book!