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This website just wouldn't be the same without the contributions of several die-hard Enid Blyton fans. So my grateful thanks to these excellent people:
Hi y'all. I'm Keith Robinson, the site owner. I grew up in Aldershot, a small town in Hampshire, England, and started reading Enid Blyton books when I was about seven, after my mum dumped a random pile on the table and said, "You might like these. I read Enid Blyton books when I was young too." I don't remember exactly which books she gave me, but I know some of them were Famous Five, and there were probably some Secret Seven in there too. I don't recall my mum ever really connecting to the Five Find-Outers when I mentioned them, so I doubt she ever read those. But she did read Malory Towers, Famous Five, Secret Seven, and various others. I must have picked up the Five Find-Outer books and the Adventure series from somewhere else—probably the local or school library—because these later became a major part of my collection. I distinctly remember the long-lasting fun I had when I started buying them one by one with my pocket money and adding them to the shelf with the others. (I even had my dad put up an extra long shelf to accommodate my ever-increasing collection!)
I had a Blyton reading-buddy named Geoff, and between us we collected all the Find-Outer books and played out our own mysteries, even involving others (and thus introducing them to Enid Blyton, our good deed of the time). I wish I could remember which books I had collected, and how many of each series. I believe I had all 21 Famous Fives, and probably all 15 Mysteries and all 8 Adventures. And 15 Secret Sevens too. But then there were others I remember: The Adventurous Four, some (or possibly all) of the Barney Mysteries, all the Secret Island series (that first book was fantasic!), and then a few miscellaneous books like, er...well, I think it might have been a Buttercup Farm book, but I'm not sure. It was a bit girly for me, about a young girl who single-handedly turns a small farm around and starts rescuing animals. Something like that. It was good, but not a book I would admit to liking too much—oh wait, I just have. Darn!
By the age of 12 I had sold off a lot of my books and started on a new "project"—a more grown-up series of books which promised a neverending quest to complete the series. Doctor Who had moved in, and the Famous Five were replaced by Cybermen, the Find-Outers by Daleks, and the Secret Seven by Sontarans. For the next few years I knew nothing else, and collected around 110 books, which at the time was every single Doctor Who book in existence. They were feverishly novelizing all the old episodes, so there were more to come...but around that time I decided I'd had enough of Doctor Who as well—and like a fool, sold all my books! Arrghhh!
Now I'm 35, with a wife and brand new daughter. I'm a self-employed website designer and have since 2001 lived in Georgia, USA. I'm also a part-time writer. I seem to have a natural interest in writing for children or young adults, and can't help thinking this is because of Enid Blyton and the influence she had on me when I was young. So now I've come full circle, and buying my old favorites and creating this site is not only a walk down memory lane but a good source for research. If I'm going to write for children, who better to use as a role model than the greatest children's author of all time?
About the site...
There's just not enough time in the day to read and review every single Enid Blyton series, so the help of other fans is greatly appreciated! I personally plan to re-visit the Five Find-Outers and Dog (check), the Adventure books (check), the Famous Five (doing those right now), and the Barney 'R' Mysteries (next in line). I also want to get to the Secret Island series one day. Still, there's a lot of Enid Blyton books out there I haven't even read, or books I remember too vaguely to be of any worth.
That's where other fans come in. When I started this website, it was just one page—the Mystery series starring the Five Find-Outers and Dog. But with the help of other Blyton fans I was able to add pages early on for the Secret Seven and Malory Towers series. Laura Canning from Ireland sent me the entire content that you now see on the Malory Towers page. What's particularly amazing about her work is that she did it all entirely from memory while in Japan! Now she's back home in Ireland, and eventually she'll get to the St Clare's series too. What's great about this from my point of view is that I doubt I'll ever read Malory Towers or St Clare's, so it's nice to have these series covered.
Nakul Datar joined in and created pages for the Secret Seven and the Barney Mysteries, and then Heather from Australia added to the Secret Seven pages while I plan to delve into the Barney Mysteries myself sometime soon. So the site is constantly evolving.
So it is with grateful thanks that I introduce you to those who have contributed to this site so far...
Heather (28) is a married mother of two from a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. She works as an Office Administrator in a small software company. She was born in 1978 in a small town in Victoria's north east and moved around a lot as a child. She has kindly provided a number of book reviews as well as scans of illustrations for the Mystery Series, Secret Seven, and about half of the Famous Five books.
"I first came across Enid Blyton books as a six year old when my parents bought an old school house in a remote part of Victoria. The town had been deserted when the gold ran out (I think around the 1950s), and the school house was still intact—as if the children had gone out to play and never come back. The writing was still on the blackboard, the inkwells were full of dry ink, and there were old books in a huge book cupboard. Some of these were Enid Blyton's Secret Seven. I read them several times, and over the years compiled more and more of the older style cloth-cover books from the 50s and 60s, from op shops (they cost about 20 cents then, back in the 80s), including mostly Secret Seven and Five-Find Outers books. I also had one or two Famous Fives and, from memory, a Brer Rabbit, Tales of Toyland, and The Enchanted Wood. Not a huge collection, but I did love them. I must have read them all at least fifty times—living in such an isolated part of Victoria I was only able to go to school once a week and did home schooling the rest of the time. We had no TV and no other children to play with other than my brothers and sisters, so Blyton books were my escape into a place of mystery and excitement.
"I kept re-reading these old favourites occasionally even into my early teens, especially when I was ill or upset. They became more of a calming influence after the stories had been read so many times the excitement of the plot had worn off. I finally gave them to my younger brother who also loved reading anything he could get his hands on. That was the last I saw of them. My mother decided one day that they were "just old books" and threw them away after I had moved out of home and married.
That was when I decided to replace the books I had lost. I scoured old bookstores and antique shops and replaced those books I had before, but by then I had the bug and wanted a more complete collection. I have since collected well over a hundred books and am still going, much to my husband's chagrin—he just doesn't understand! His only consolation is that they are an investment that will gain value...not that I would ever sell! I have also found many others who feel the same way as me via internet forums—at least I know I'm not alone! My husband keeps buying me new "adult" books to try to cure me of my affliction. They are great to read, and certainly very stimulating—but nothing can beat curling up with a cup of coffee and going off into the dreamworld of Blyton characters, where adventures and mysteries abound, bad guys always get caught, and children escape to faraway lands. What could be better?"
Also check out Heather's Blyton Pages.
Laura Canning (30) is from Ireland, and she wrote all the textual content for the Malory Towers and St Clare's pages (except for one article added afterwards).
"I'm a writer from Belfast and have been reading Enid Blyton since I was about five. Rereading the Famous Five and Malory Towers was my guilty secret at university, until reading cultural studies and pop culture let me claim that to still read kids' books age 30 is actually to study post-war British culture (ahem). I'm moving into a more academic study of the books now, if only for my own self-respect, and am working on a book proposal on themes in Blyton's work.
Laura also has a new novel being published, Story of my Life, available in the near future. You can preview it here.
Prabhu Viswanathan (42) is a shoemaker from India. He has contributed reviews for various Enid Blyton novels.
"Have always enjoyed the world of make-believe. It's a healthy place in which to retire every evening after work. Am unmarried but am in a longterm relationship.
Love kids, horses (though not much contact on city streets), and am a golf addict. Don't play so much as love to watch. Crazy cricket fan, and in general a sports freak. Deeply patriotic! Am an anglophile... love anything to do with the English language and the English countryside!
Live on the coast during the working year, and sometimes escape to the hills for some summer relief. My favourite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Enid Blyton, of course, is not within the sphere of this discussion.
I like Phantom comics (Strength of Ten Men, Ghost Who Walks), Mandrake the Magician (gestures hypnotically), Richie Rich... all these being memories of childhood. Given the opportunity, I'd live life forever as a school-going boy. Now, of course, I'm an office-going boy!"
Nigel is married with two sons, now grown up, born, bred and living in Salisbury, England. He is now retired, but worked for South Western Ambulance Service as a Paramedic for thirty years. Apart from numerous suggestions, comments and a generally healthy interest in this site, Nigel has contributed reviews and scans of illustrations for the Famous Five pages.
"I can't remember my first Blyton, but I do remember going to the public library and taking out Secret Seven, Famous Five and Mystery titles. Money was very scarce in those days, so owning books was really out of the question. I can remember seeing books in W H Smith, obviously with their dust-jackets, and thinking, "I wish I could buy them!" I did get copies for birthdays, but most of my reading was courtesy of Salisbury Public Library!
"There were plenty of Blyton's in the school library. However, an anti-Blyton phase was starting in the 50s/60s, and we were scoffed at for selecting them. I was a member of the Famous Five Club, and lost my badge. I recall a monitor bringing it into the class to see if it belonged to anyone, and on claiming it was made to feel very foolish.
"I grew out of Enid Blyton on reaching secondary school. It wasn't until much later that I found a few old Famous Five books and read them. They brought back such memories from my childhood. It was fascinating how the pictures in my mind were the same as when I was 7 or 8! I was hooked. "My turning point was finding "The Enid Blyton Society" on the web. Hey, here were adults (and certainly not weirdos) who loved Enid's work! I then discovered this site, and with the Yahoo! Group, my world was complete! The Internet became my source for tracking down copies. Up till then, I had made the odd purchase from a second-hand book shop. Now I had the pick of Enid's books.
"Although the Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Adventure series, and Secret Seven ranked among my favourites, I love all Enid's work. I fondly remember discovering Noddy, how transfixed I was by the endpapers illustration of Toyland. Her imagination really swelled in the Faraway Tree collection. It was hard to believe that one person could write so many different stories.
Thankfully, I am not thought of as strange, well not by everyone, anyway. I don't keep my love of Blyton a secret. I am mystified as to how so many adults read "Harry Potter" in public, but wouldn't be seen dead with an Enid Blyton. My dream world is to stretch out in the garden by the pond, with a pint of beer, and a good Blyton.
Nakul Datar (21) from Los Angeles, USA, is currently earning a Bachelors in Computer Engineering at USC. He created some of the textual content for the Secret Seven and Barney Mysteries pages.
"I got addicted to Enid Blyton because of the picturesque settings, the details (such as the amount of coconut on macaroons), and of course the ginger beer. The premise of the stories, while being complicated enough (especially the Five Find-Outer mysteries), never required multiple passes to understand it. And I liked the fact that the lives of the children continue while they are investigating the mysteries.
"I always liked the wording, which I felt was in a conversational tone and not like something spit out of a theasaurus. The books were never unnecessarily forbidding. Though most facts relate to real life (or did, in her time), she did not overdose the books with too much reality; we can see the grim nature of the real world by reading the news!—and besides, I would not have wanted to learn that the world was full of thorns at age 9.
"Lastly, the moral principles described in the books hold true irrespective of the generation, and I believe that the lessons learnt by readers from Amelia Jane three decades back would differ very little from lessons learnt by readers today."
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