Talk About Blyton!

Famous Five – Why do the Five change their name to Barnard from Kirrin?

August 21, 2005 – Shagufta says: Julian, Dick and Anne suddenly change their name to Barnard from 'Kirrin' in Five Get Into a Fix. Maybe their dad died and their mom remarried.
October 13, 2005 – Emma says: In the first Famous Five book we are told that Aunt Fanny's family owned most/all of Kirrin. Yet George's last name is Kirrin... a bit odd this, because Quentin wouldn't have been called Kirrin unless he and Aunt Fanny are cousins or something! Now we are also told that Aunt Fanny has lived in Kirrin all her life, but in one book George says that when her mother was living in a town, she always used to pickle her own food. Hmmmm. Also, if Julian, Dick and Anne's father is Quentin's brother, they should be named Kirrin, but they are called Barnard in one book! Their father doesn't seem to know much about Kirrin either... strange, and you would have thought that the children would have said something about going to Kirrin Bay, if their last name was Kirrin...
November 1, 2005 – Jo Peas says: Uncle Quentin took Aunt Fannie's name because she was famous. Funnily enough, it wouldn't be that bad if she took his name, because he's famous too, although they're rather poor in some books. Perhaps he's famous because of her!
January 4, 2006 – Jo Peas says: I don't think they were called Kirrin in the 1st place. I would have thought if they were called Kirrin they might have noticed there was a place called Kirrin Bay!
January 6, 2006 – Keith Robinson says: It's clearly established in Book 1 that Quentin is the brother of Julian, Dick and Anne's father. This means that their father and George's father have the same surname, assumed to be Quentin -- but possibly Barnard. Perhaps Kirrin is Aunt Fanny's surname, from her side of the family, and she kept her name because her family owned the bay. But women normally pick up their husband's name at marriage, and even if she'd kept her own name, George would still be named after her father -- and we know George is George Kirrin, and likewise Julian, Dick and Anne are Kirrin too. Nothing makes sense except that Blyton made a mistake somewhere along the line.
January 31, 2006 – Lloyd Alfonso says: What further compounds this error is that in "Five on Finniston Farm", the next book in the series, they introduce themselves as the "Kirrins" to the unfriendly "Harries".
February 22, 2006 – Jon says: In Book 8 (Five Get Into Trouble), about page 2, Quentin says: "How can I possibly be expected to remember exactly when the children's holidays come, and if they are going to be here with us or with your sister?" This seems to suggest that Fanny is the sister of Julian, Dick and Anne's mother.
March 22, 2006 – Stephanie says: It may be that Fanny was sister to Julian, Dick and Anne's mother, but in the first book their father is Uncle Quentin's brother and their mother doesn't approve of him. Was it alright to marry cousins in the 1940's, 50's and 60's?
April 8, 2006 – Jo Peas says: I have always imagined: Julian's Father is the brother of Uncle Quentin. Quentin is his first name. Both of their surnames were originally Barnard. Fanny's surname is Kirrin, since she remarks that her MOTHER used to own most of the land round there, hence the village being called Kirrin. As I said before, Quentin took Fanny's name because she was famous.
May 2, 2006 – Nithya says: Aunt Fanny is the sister of Anne, Julian and Dick's mother. Anne, Julian and Dick's father is the brother of Uncle Quentin.
May 13, 2006 – Divya says: I think that Uncle Quentin and Julian's father are brothers and Aunt Fanny and Julian's mother are sisters. It's the same case in the hindi film, 'Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham'.
June 11, 2006 – Mark Storm says: I think Divya has the simplest, easiest answer... The Kirrin men are brothers, the Kirrin women are sisters. However, these adult Kirrins need not be all cousins - just members of Senior and Junior branches of the family. Quentin (of the Junior, London line) married Fanny (of the Senior, Dorset/Cornwall line). That Fanny inherited Kirrin cottage from "her mother" [as we are told in one book, early in the series] is an unusual statement to make, but not so much so if one has it that the widowed woman made it expressly clear in her will that the cottage and island were to go to her elder daughter - Fanny. So, Julian, Dick, Anne & George are indeed all cousins. No need for worries about any "murky undertones" here at all! Later, by Book 5 (Camp) there is mention of the London Kirrins [Julian, Dick and Anne] living outside of London and near open fields. I would suggest that this is after their mother (Fanny's sister) has been widowed and remarried to a certain Mr Barnard. Julian, Dick and Anne's mother now has a name change - to Mrs Barnard (as mentioned in Fix) - but Julian, Dick and Anne retain the Kirrin surname (as mentioned in Finniston). Simple! :-)
June 20, 2006 – Imogen says: I never got the impression that Julian, Dick and Anne acquired a stepfather and that their father died. I think Enid Blyton simply forgot, or was unclear, which parents were related when the children were cousins! Didn't this happen with Snubby and his cousins Diana and Roger in another series?
October 16, 2006 – Jennifer says: They couldn't have been re-named to Barnard in Five Get Into a Fix. They were called Kirrin in Five on Finniston Farm and that book came after Five Get Into a Fix. That would have meant their name changed back again. (EnidBlyton.net adds: It depends which edition of the book you're reading. The later versions changed "Barnard" to "Kirrin" in an effort to put right the mistake.)
November 6, 2006 – Mark Storm says: To reiterate: the name change business... Despite what the publishers tried to fix up with the removal of the "Barnard" surname of Julian, Dick and Anne's mother - I think my solution still holds. The children - all 4 - are always called Kirrin and there is never any name change for them. All of them had a father whose surname was Kirrin. My theory of the Dorset/Cornwall and London (partly estranged) branches of the Kirrin family allows a Quentin Kirrin of the London line to marry a Fanny Kirrin of the Dorset/Cornwall line. Similarly, Fanny's sister and her husband also married. Thus the lines are reunited in these marriages. All this is only 'murky' and objectionable to those who live in countries where cousin-cousin marriage is deemed illegal. In Britain, Australia, almost all of Europe and most of the world, there is no stigma about 1st cousins marrying. Julian, Dick and Anne's mother was widowed and she re-married a man surnamed "Barnard". As far as my reading of the series goes, I have never seen in print a "Julian Barnard", "Dick Barnard", nor "Anne Barnard". My theory will be shot to holes if ever this is pointed out to me and I will be the first to admit my error. Until that point; the Kirrin/Barnard confusion can be resolved without contradiction. Yes, Enid Blyton probably did make a mistake - but not one that can't be sorted out. [By the way, neither father ever has a surname 'Quentin'. Quentin is a first name - what Enid Blyton would have called ones 'Christian' name - meaning the first name with which one was Christened.]
November 11, 2006 – Pendleton Girl says: I am reading Five Go To Billycock Hill at the moment. In this book the boys' school friend Toby introduces them to the Butterfly Man as "Julian Kirrin, Dick Kirrin, Anne Kirrin, George Kirrin their cousin..." it is unthinkable that a lad who went to school with Julian and Dick would suddenly give them another surname during a formal introduction - this reinforces my view that Julian, Dick and Anne's father and George's father are brothers, which was the suggestion on the very first page of the first book. Of course it doesn't answer why Aunt Fanny's family owned Kirrin Island, maybe we have to allow Enid Blyton some licence there, she probably didn't think that her books would be read by anyone old enough to notice the discrepancy!
January 10, 2007 – Daibhidh MacShealbhaich says: As a further follow-on from Mark Storm's comment - I've never been clear as to the actual years in which the Famous Five series takes place. I assume that it begins in the 40s, but it could just as easily, and perhaps more credibly take place in the mid-to-late 30s. However, this establishes a scenario for Mrs Barnard being Julian, Dick, and Anne's mother. There were, tragically, an awful lot of young widows in Britain in the late 40s, quite a few of whom married people from their late husbands' regiments. Presumably Mr Kirrin was killed in the War. I am somewhat surprised given the type of families the Kirrins are from that Julian and Dick don't go to Sandhurst or Mons OCS in the latest (chronologically) books and take commissions in the Army: this was normal for nearly all upper middle class boys until the mid 60s.
November 29, 2007 – Fiona says: This ridiculously complex riddle has confused me for years. The facts: In book 1 Julian etc's un-named father gets in touch with his brother Quentin. In the same book we discover George, Fanny and Quentin are all Kirrins, but the name appears to have been from Fanny's family as they owned Kirrin Island and Kirrin farm etc. In subsequent books all four cousins are called Kirrin. In ONE book Julian etcs mother is named Mrs Barnard. In ONE book Quentin refers to Julian's mother as Fanny's sister. Ok, there may have been cousin's marrying, or women being widowed or any number of far fetched reasons, none of which are stated in the book. Wouldn't it have been easier for George and her mother to take Uncle Quentin's surname, and Julian's family to take his father's surname. But leave Kirrin island as such - and we could still have it stated that it belonged to Fanny - who's maiden name was Kirrin. Or have Julian's father be Fanny's brother and Quentin took his wife's name because of the land ownership. There seems to be several ways to have written the books without such confusion, however as brilliant as EB was, she was human and made errors. As she was churning out over 10,000 words a day I don't imagine she had time to thoroughly proof read all her work.
March 4, 2008 – Tobim says: Given that Uncle Quentin and Julian, Dick and Anne's father are supposed to be brothers, they cannot be all that close. In 'Five on a Treasure Island' Mr Barnard/Kirrin clasps Uncle Quentin's hand and says that he hasn't seen him for nearly a year. Added to this is that Julian, Dick and Anne seem never to have heard of Uncle Quentin et al before they are mentioned as possible hosts for that holiday and they have not met George before. Mr Barnard/Kirrin also refers to Aunt Fanny 'Quentin's wife' rather than by name, which seems a little formal and suggests that they are not close - surely in this case there would be more convenient choices for parking the children during the holidays than calling on what seem to be estranged relatives.
Inspector Jenks says... Inspector Jenks says: I haven't seen my brothers (or parents) for a year either! Depends on where you live, I suppose. But I agree about the estranged relatives thing... I would consider it VERY strange not to have heard of an aunt and uncle, especially when my parents see them as MANY times (in this case) as once a year!
March 4, 2008 – rogoz says: I suggest a lot of Blyton's background narrative was kept vague because it was only incidental to the Novel. Look at Quentin's story - a famous scientist can't keep a Cook or send Georgina to a good school until all that Gold is found in Book 1. He first welcomes the Kirrin kids because of the rent they'll pay ! No reason is given for all this apparent poverty - it doesn't add up, or should I say, we weren't meant to add it up.
March 10, 2008 – marrandy says: "No reason is given for all this apparent poverty - it doesn't add up, or should I say, we weren't meant to add it up." Inventors and scientists in the UK have been notoriously under paid and funded over the decades and banks and investors didn't have the courage to take risks, which is why most UK inventions used to go overseas. That may have changed in the past 30-years, but in the period of the books it was well known.
January 15, 2015 – Bryan says: Surely the solution is the following- George's father (Uncle Quentin) and Julian's father (unnamed) were only half-brothers. Uncle Quentin was a Kirrin but then his mother married Mr Barnard and Julian's father was their offspring. Enid then mixed them up and caused all these name problems for her devoted readers!
January 16, 2015 – Bryan says: Does anyone else have any ideas about Barnards and Kirrins???
Daisy says... Daisy says: I think that Barnards, was a slip of memory for Enid. Remember she wrote hundreds and hundreds of books. This wasn't picked up by the publishers either, which maybe should have been.
January 16, 2015 – Evie M says: About the five always addressing themselves as the Kirrins, perhaps they thought it would be easier to say that rather than saying "She is a Kirrin and us three are Barnards"? I don't know. Just a thought. :) :) :) :)
January 17, 2015 – Paul says: Enid didn't do drafts or have strong continuity, unlike many modern authors. When you write at speed, these things happen.
January 17, 2015 – Evie M says: I agree 100%. When you are reading the book little things like this don't matter- it's the mystery/adventure that counts!
February 8, 2015 – Paul G. Joseph says: In Five go to Mystery Moore (Famous Five # 13), there is a line that says Quentin is a "soil mechanics" specialist. Being a soil mechanics specialist myself, I have often wondered if Quentin was modeled after a real person. Would anyone know? I do know from Barbara Stoney's biography of Enid Blyton that in 1919 she tutored the children of Horace Thomas a Architect and Land Surveyor. The house was called Southernhay on Hook Road, Surbiton. Would she have encountered a soil mechanics person here? Any one know?
Buster says... Buster says: I don't recall the line ' soil mechanics' in any of my Famous Five books, Paul, but then mine are all original text. That term sounds updated.
May 15, 2015 – Kathy says: Probably Julian's father's name is Barnard Kirrin and so his mother might be called Mrs. Barnard. And in olden times, in Kerala the husbands used to take the wife's surname after marriage so it must be something similar. And quite frankly I think Blyton would have mentioned Julian's father dying and they'd at least have to mourn.
Fatty says... Fatty says: This was simply a slip on Enid's part. Names were never her strong point - consider Alf/James. Joan/Joanna, for example.
June 22, 2015 – jess says: Here's what I figured. George's mom is a full Kirrin and her sister is Julian and them lots mom, and then both the dads are Barnards or watever it was, but Quentin and Dick's dad are releated to the Kirrins in some way, thats why Quentin says that HJK was his great great grand father too, and the children all take the Kirrin name and so does Quentin who decideded he needed a well known surname to boost his popularity or watever but his brother, Julian's dad keeps his surname and that I guess explains it and when the kids are called Barnads it's a slip by the person who said it seeing as they dont know them properly. Anyway thats what I think.
Daisy says... Daisy says: Quite a lot to take in there! Pity you didn't give your spelling and punctuation as much thought!
July 18, 2015 – That Boy Shaurya says: Jess is right, completely right!
Buster says... Buster says: No one knows who is completely right, only the author herself and she's not here to tell us.
July 18, 2015 – Evie M says: Lol, Good come back, Buster.
Buster says... Buster says: Just my own observation, Evie.
July 24, 2015 – That Boy Shaurya says: Actually, This Is What I Figured. Enid Blyton Made A Mistake!!
July 24, 2015 – Tess says: That's the obvious answer.
July 24, 2015 – Tess says: How come all your words start in Caps?
Daisy says... Daisy says: Maybe he was trying to make a point!
October 12, 2016 – annie says: I'd just like to know ,what are Ju's ,Dick's and Anne's parent's name.
Daisy says... Daisy says: Their surname was Kirrin in the books, but in one book Enid said they were called Barnard. But Enid's health was failing at the time of that written book.
October 18, 2016 – Mehul says: Maybe Quentin and Fanny just had the same surname by coincidence! I mean, you meet people with surnames like Smith, Jones, Johnson and all versions of John who are not related to each other at all!
Buster says... Buster says: It's a thought.
October 21, 2016 – Nigel says: A bit of a ridiculous thought, Buster! One massive coincidence that stretches the boundaries of reality! There is much mystery concerning Quentin's brother (if that's who Julian's father is). We never hear George call her cousin's parents by any name. They always refer to Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny by name, but George never calls her aunt and uncle by name. I realise that not that many stories opened away from Kirrin, but it is very odd that Enid never gave us their names.
Fatty says... Fatty says: This, from Keith Robinson, is relevant to this point: I've been told that in the original books Julian's mother is referred to as Mrs Barnard. There's no mention of her name in the later version I have, and I have to assume it's been altered due to the fact that it's a glaring error on Blyton's part—for as we all know, Julian's father is Uncle Quentin's brother, which makes both families Kirrin.
August 9, 2017 – Mike Conley says: In which book is it stated that Julian's father's surname is Kirrin? Fanny is the one who is Kirrin,not Quentin and 'Daddy' of Julian,Dick and Anne. I guess Quentin is Quentin Barnard,Daddy is (xyz) Barnard,his wife is Mrs Barnard and Quentin's wife is Fanny Kirrin or something. Blyton is right,I guess. If I am wrong anywhere,please do correct me. :).
Fatty says... Fatty says: Without researching, I would imagine the surname was first mentioned in Five on a Treasure Island. Barnard was an error, Mike, and only mentioned in one book, Five Get Into a Fix.

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