Enid Blyton was born on the 11th of August, 1897. She wrote over 700 books and more than 2,000 short stories for children and, despite being a somewhat controversial character, her literary legacy lives on today.
Blyton was born in South London to a clothing wholesaler father and a housewife mother. She was a smart, sporty, and musical child, turning down a place at the Guildhall School of Music to pursue a teacher training course after leaving school. After becoming a teacher and later a governess in the late 1910s, she was a regular contributor to Teachers World magazine during the 1920s. At the same time, her career as a writer of fiction began to take off and her first book, Child Whispers, a book of poetry, was published in 1922. In 1924, Blyton married Hugh Pollock, an editor at a publishing company which had commissioned her to write a children’s book about London Zoo. A year later, Blyton’s first longer fiction book, The Enid Blyton Book of Bunnies, was published.
Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Blyton was incredibly productive as a writer, churning out up to 20 books a year. It was during this time that her most famous works, namely the The Famous Five series, The Secret Seven series, Noddy and Malory Towers were published. As well as writing, Blyton devoted much of her time to charitable endeavours and helped raise large sums of money for the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) and several disability charities.
Despite her charitable nature, Blyton’s stories exhibit her profound racism and xenophobia, attitudes that were not uncommon during the period in which she grew up, and as a consequence many of her works are no longer in print, or have been heavily edited in order to not cause offence. In spite of this, Enid Blyton remains one of the world’s best-selling children’s writers, with book sales totalling in excess of 500 million copies. Her works have been translated into over 40 languages and many of her stories have been adapted into stage and television shows.