Talk About Blyton!

Unlisted - Enid Blyton in general – Ghost writers

June 6, 2007 – John Howes says: I believe it's generally agreed that some of EB's stories, particularly the final book(s) in a series, are well below her usual standard (for example, "The Rat-A-Tat Mystery" and "The Ragamuffin Mystery" from the Barney series, and "Missing Man", "Strange Messages" and "Banshee Towers" from the Find-Outers series). My family has this theory that stories such as these were not even written by EB, but by ghost writers, since, as well as being inferior, they have certain aspects that don't sound quite like EB's style, and the characters often say or do things that seem, well, out of character. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
June 8, 2007 – Ming says: I'm afraid, John, that it's obviously not correct - Enid wrote them all! According to my thoughts, Enid would NEVER have gotten ghost writers to write the last books of the series. I'll take the titles you mentioned as my examples. Ragamuffin was first published in 1959, and Banshee Towers in 1961. I can't see Enid writing the first few, then getting other people. Strange Messages was first published in 1957. Suppose ghost writers wrote Ragamuffin in 1959, Enid wrote Strange Messages in 1957. Banshee was written in 1961, so it doesn't really make sense (nor does my message, to be honest, I can't seem to be able to frame my words correctly!). Many people think Five Are Together Again was written by ghost writers - this is just plain rubbish - I have seen the original manuscript!
June 8, 2007 – Nigel Rowe says: Oh dear, that old chestnut again. You say it's generally agreed; who has agreed? Certainly no-one that I know of. The titles that you mention are, in my opinion, some of Blyton's best - although Banshee Towers is not up to her usual standard, but we must remember that Enid was not in good health at this stage. It has been said that Enid did not write Five Are Together Again, but as I have seen her original manuscript, I can assure them that she did. You may tell your family that they are most definitely wrong in their theory.
June 11, 2007 – rogoz says: The Five writing standard does seem to fall off - No. 18 Finniston Farm is one of the best novels while No. 21 Together Again has a lot of construction errors. My guess is that any decent ghost writer would have done better - so it must be genuine Blyton! Out of character statements or actions of the Five are everywhere and derive from their literary construction as story functionaries rather than genuine characters, i.e., they perform actions required by the plot instead of their own personalities. The critic, David Rudd, wrote a heavy book about it: Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Children's Literature. Check your Library!
June 12, 2007 – Jeni says: John, you and your family sound wise enough to know about this stuff, so I agree with you, although I haven't read any of these EB 'knockoffs'. An avid reader would know, and can tell the difference easily between a knockoff and the real thing. And the fact is that EB was sooooooo popular in her time, that I'll wager anything that many people tried to emulate her style. However, they fail to realize that NOTHING can top or truly mimic the 'original' and we sure love our 'original', Enid Blyton!
June 12, 2007 – Keith Robinson says: John, I have to disagree with you here (as other have). It's an old chestnut, as Nigel said, that many people seem to like the idea of because they cannot fathom writing so many books in a single lifetime, or how a small number of books can be less than perfect. As for those later books falling below her usual standards... she was getting older and her health wasn't as good, and I believe it's possible for a writer (even one as great as Enid) to burn out. As Ming said, those books you mentioned were written in the very late 50s onwards, and I expect that in those last ten years she just wasn't on top form. But the idea of ghost writers just doesn't wash with me.
June 12, 2007 – jeni says: Oh my, I have to retract my words, sorry John. Ming you've seen actual EB manuscripts?! Gosh I'm impressed. I didn't know they can be viewed - WHERE can those be seen? In fact I didn't even know they existed, but of course common sense would dictate that they do exist, after all EB was a pretty modern writer, as opposed to authors of the pre-Victorian era. I've got a lot of catching up to do on EB's writing; as I mentioned before, I've only read some of the 'Adventure' series and the boarding school series as well as a few fairy stories here and there. Many of you (i.e. Keith and Ming and Nigel, are way ahead of me on EB's books!) I DO know she wrote thousands of books (isn't she listed in the Guiness book as the world's most prolific children's author?)
Inspector Jenks says... Inspector Jenks says: Yes, Ming and Nigel (and nearly two hundred others) went along to Enid Blyton Day in Twyford, England, a month ago, where manuscripts were on display. I went along last year. You can see info about last year's Day here -- I haven't yet got around to putting up info about THIS year's Day, but there's plenty about it on the forums.
June 13, 2007 – Elizabeth Howes says: I doubt that EB would have agreed to ghost writers publishing books under her name, Ming. I think that if the books in question were ghost-written, it would have been admirers trying to imitate the very distinctive style of EB (as Jeni suggested), and not succeeding very well. I have read the reviews of all the Fatty and Barney mysteries and certainly Keith appears to agree with John that the last books in the series were quite unsatisfactory - the Ragamuffin Mystery, for example, was described as a "badly-conceived, formulaic, and frankly lazy" addition to an otherwise outstanding collection of stories. I believe that EB would have ended this series at a logical, conclusive point: the Rubadub Mystery, where Barney is finally reunited with his father. Keith, you also mentioned "odd gaffs in the continuity of the series" in Banshee Towers. That seems very suspicious to me, even considering previous, minor continuity errors. I stand by my family's theory.
June 13, 2007 – Anonymous says: Maybe, I ought to know this, but I don't -- What are or rather WHO are ghost-writers?
June 15, 2007 – Jeni says: WOT?!!! you all went to England and I wasn't even invited?!! Hmmmppppfff!!! sheeesh, thanks a lot guys! (I'm only kiddin') Wow, that surely sounds like a real adventure, whenever I get to visit England, I'd also like to see where EB's buried... I've always wanted to see where she's been laid to rest. I've been to England in 1997 for a brief period of time, course I didn't KNOW you guys at the time. Then again I highly doubt this site was in existence then! (I'm not sure how well I can now travel via airplane due to the fibromyalgia, I'll have to contact my DR to find out.)
June 15, 2007 – Tony says: You may well stand by your family's theory Elizabeth, but I can categorically tell you that it is an erroneous one. Enid Blyton wrote every book that was published under her name in her lifetime. Obviously books written after her death were written by other authors and sometimes the publishers tried to make this less than obvious. It is sometimes the case that towards the end of their careers authors 'tail off' and undoubtedly this was the case with some of Enid's later books. But she is not alone - Malcolm Saville's final Lone Pine book, 'Home to Witchend' was well below the standard of other books in the series, and the final Biggles book by W E Johns, 'Biggles Does His Homework', was diabolically bad, I had the misfortune to proof read the book. Just accept the fact that Enid Blyton was a writing phenomenon, she never had a secretary and answered thousands of letters by hand. The very thought of having a ghost writer would have been totally repugnant to her and she even took someone to court (and won!) for suggesting it.
June 17, 2007 – Anonymous says: Can someone please tell me who ghost writers are? Thank you!
June 17, 2007 – Keith Robinson says: Anonymous, a ghost writer is someone hired to write a novel about pre-established characters (usually as part of an existing series) under the guise of another. John and Elizabeth Howes above are suggesting, as many others have, that Enid Blyton's publishers hired someone to write some of the later books for her, and publish them in her name as if she wrote it herself. In fact, Tony Summerfield of the Enid Blyton Society (above) has various manuscripts in his possession including Five Are Together Again, one of the inferior later books that's often cited as a ghost-writer's knock-off. So, Howes Family, hopefully you can now abandon your theory about ghost writers in Blyon's case? Unless you have stronger evidence to the contrary? ;-)
June 18, 2007 – John Howes says: Much as I'd like to present arguments in support of my family's theory, Keith, I'm afraid that no, I don't have any "evidence to the contrary"; in fact, all the evidence seems to be firmly against me. So I will graciously concede that the theory (and that's all it was - a theory) is in fact incorrect. Still, it was interesting and enlightening to read what everyone had to say about it.
Inspector Jenks says... Inspector Jenks says: Oh, for sure! Any discussion is interesting to me, especially ones that spark some strong reactions! :-)
November 25, 2008 – Philip Mannering says: Oh, I thought "Strange Messages" of the Mystery series to be fantastic. Who has said it's below par? "Missing Man" was quite good, made better than it was by the character of Eunice. Yes, "Banshee Towers" was undoubtedly weak, and so were the last two Barney Mysteries. However, they were all written by Enid Blyton! Imagine: what *would* Julian say when he got to know of all this? People suspecting that their last adventure was fake! : shock: .
February 27, 2011 – N1BF says: Never mind Julian, how about GEORGE! She'll probably take Timmy and run away, or something stupid like that. That plucky young Georgina Kirrin will become a runaway. Hey, how about an FF book called Five Run Away Together Again. And I thought 'Banshee Towers was good. Especially when Fatty and Ern were in that room.
February 21, 2012 – Saky says: But won't Pamela Cox be classified as a ghost writer?
Fatty says... Fatty says: No, as she writes under her own name, not on behalf of Enid Blyton. Keith explains more above.
March 8, 2012 – Shannon says: Enid Blyton books accompanied me at an early age, in taltsarnion into German, of course. The Famous Five were probably called things like The Island of Adventure', I seem to remember four children and a parrot as the main characters. I saw the film, she cannot have been an easy person to live with. My husband, who is English, thinks of her as a very poor writer with very simple and unrealistic plot lines. Children shouldn't read such trash, he thinks rather harshly. I enjoyed her books and couldn't get enough of them True, there were an alien world,but I found them spell-binding.
March 16, 2012 – Saky says: The Island of Adventure is of the adventure series and is not of the Famous Five. The characters were Jack, Philip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann. Jack's parrot is called Kiki.
October 10, 2017 – Melinda TURI says: My daugther started reading her books. The first one was The secret island. She loved it and we could hardly get enough books for her in English. So I was happy to find lots of her books in second hand book shops as we arrived to Germany. We reread The Secret Island in German which not only has a different title,but the translators stupefied the story,making lots of changes in it. However, my shock came today,when my daughter came home from the library with 6 Enid Blyton books from the series of 'Fünf Freunde'(five friends) and inside the cover it says with tiny letters that they have been authored by Sarah Bosse! How can that happen?
Daisy says... Daisy says: I'm baffled, Melinda. Unless someone has done continuation stories of Enid's books? Maybe someone reading this posting can shed light on this.

Fatty says: I don't think there's any mystery here to solve, Melinda. Sarah Bosse has written 30 Famous Five (Fünf Freunde) follow-on books for the German market. Your daughter has simply borrowed six of those.
October 11, 2017 – Melinda TURI says: I am surprised, since I have never heard of such a thing that a book may be published under the name of another author, having the same book cover design and even her name written the same way on the cover as on other 'original' books and that at the same time it may have another author. I cannot believe it that copywright laws allow someone, even a company to publish something under the name of someone who cannot give permission to this anymore. Not that I have investigated it though. But obviously, I feel misled anyway.
Fatty says... Fatty says: It is quite common. There is a series of adult books based on the Famous Five, called Enid Blyton for Grown Ups. Click on the link to see one of them. Many Blyton fans strongly disagree with this, but Hodder have obviously given their approval.

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