The fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
There is no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Blyton clearly agreed as she featured Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night several times in different books, stories and poems. That or she just found it a good inspiration for writing!
I’ve already written one post featuring various excerpts from books and stories about bonfires, guys and fireworks. We’ve also already posted a couple of poems, The Bonfire at Night and Firework Night.
On Bonfire Night
On Bonfire Night is the first story in volume 1, issue 17 of Enid Blyton’s Magazine. It runs for eight pages so I won’t reproduce it in full here.
Health and safety clearly being a concept unknown in 1953, six children have saved up their money to club together and buy a load of fireworks to go with their bonfire. (Blyton does work in a lengthy warning about keeping pets indoors, however). They plan to make a magnificent guy and invite lots of friends to share their fireworks with.
Once they have saved a whole pound they go to the toy shop and buy a selection of fireworks. Some of the possible choices were Rockets, Roman Candles, Big-Flashes, Swish-Bangs, Catherine Wheels and Bang-Jumpers.
Bonfire Night arrives but Harry, one of the group, is so eager to have fun he starts setting off fireworks on the way to the bonfire site. He scares a horse which goes running off, and George, the main character of the story ends up spending bonfire night in a ditch taking care of the frightened horse and so misses the fireworks.
He and the rest of his group – except Harry of course – get another bonfire night courtesy of the farmer and his wife.
An interesting moral tale for modern readers! Children can buy fireworks and light them, just as long as they don’t throw them at horses or forget to shut the cat in a room!
A letter from Bimbo
In the same issue as On Bonfire Night Blyton sends the ‘take care of your pets’ message via Bimbo, her Siamese cat.
Bonfire Night is Coming
Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 2 issue 22 comes a year after volume 1 issue 17, so Bonfire Night has come around again.
In this one David is a member of a fireworks club, but he is the poorest member and can’t contribute to the funds. He thinks that’s not fair of him and proposes to resign but the others insist he stays, and makes his contribution by collecting firewood and things to burn on the bonfire.
He works very hard and collects twigs from the woods, cardboard boxes, old bits of furniture and even a mouldy old cushion. As it turns out the cushion contains a load of cash, and upon returning it to its owner he gets to keep ten whole pounds. He can then buy some fireworks and put the rest aside for his mother’s birthday and other nice things.
A letter from David
David, the boy from Bonfire Night is Coming writes a letter in a similar vein to Bimbo last year. (Though strangely they’ve squeezed it in thirteen pages before the actual story and it rather gives away the ending!)
The Firework Club
Two years later in volume 4, issue 20 The Fireworks Club follows a very similar pattern to Bonfire Night is Coming.
Tom is also part of a fireworks club, his family aren’t as poor as David’s but he gets very little pocket money. The money he does earn doing chores he spends on flowers for his sick grandmother, replacing his little sisters’ lost pocket money, and nylons for his mother’s birthday.
His group are also kind, however, and insist that he still comes to the firework night but won’t be allowed to light any as he has contributed the least money.
His good deed is finding a dropped box of fireworks and returning them to the owner instead of keeping them for his club. His reward is an invitation to a grand fireworks party the next night.
You can read the story in full here.
A letter from Enid
Enid Blyton’s Magazine volume 5 issue 23 is another November issue. Enid begins with her usual letter to her readers which includes another warning about caring for pets on bonfire night.
One Bonfire Night
Also in volume 5 issue 23 is One Bonfire Night. Despite the name being similar to the first story in this post, and it is about caring for animals again, it’s a very different story.
First it’s set in the made up Village of Tick-Tack, which is populated by little folk and witches. The little folk are most anxious that their bonfire night with fireworks not upset any animals so they send a bell-man though the village to warn everyone to keeps their cats, dogs and ponies etc inside.
Witch Green-Eyes is incensed at being told what to do and refuses to keep her cat, Cinders, in. Well, poor Cinders is scared out of her wits and runs away. She finds a nice new owner and never returns to help Witch Green-Eyes with her spells.
Read the whole story here.
Noddy and the Bonfire
Readers got a second bonfire story in the next issue as well, though since this magazine came out on November 20th it’s not a bonfire night story.
Noddy and Big-Ears light a bonfire to burn all their rubbish (a concept which might seem a bit strange today.) Big-Ears is very firm that Noddy must not light the fire himself. Noddy loves the bonfire so much that he then goes and lights the Bear family’s rubbish heap next door. Mrs Bear is quite happy that it has been done, because it has started raining, but Bruiny Bear howls because he’s hidden a birthday present in the rubbish and now it’s gone.
Poor Noddy has to pay all his saved money to Bruiny to replace it. I actually feel quite sorry for Noddy as there’s no way he could have known about the present and it’s a rather silly place to have hidden it. But then he does light the fire for selfish reasons rather than genuinely wanting to help!
You can read the story in full here.
Adventure for a Guy (a short story)
Volume 6 issue 23 is another November issue, with another seasonal story. This is more of a mystery tale, involving Peter and George (but not of the Secret Seven).
They chat to a newspaper seller who complains that his money keeps getting stolen when he goes for a cup of tea. He won’t give up his tea, and he must leave the tin for people to put money in as they take papers, so what can he do?
Nobody would steal if there was a policeman watching, but that would only prevent a theft not catch the thief. What he needs, he says, is an invisible man.
Peter dresses as a guy and George wheels him into position near the newspaper stand. With George inside a shop, Peter watches lots of honest people putting in a penny and taking a paper. Then someone else comes along and steals the whole lot!
Luckily Peter recognises who it is and they can confront him later.
There’s a nice little bit about the boys honesty here – they’ve promised not to ever beg for money with a guy so if anyone gives them anything they’ll give it to the newspaper man.
Read the story in full here.
Bonfires (a poem by Enid Blyton)
I don’t have access to many Sunny Stories but number 44 has a poem about Bonfires, which hasn’t been published anywhere else.
When dark November comes along
And leaves are falling down,
The gardener builds a bonfire up
Of rubbish old and brown.
He strikes a match – he lights the fire –
It flares up high and bright!
We jump and dance around in glee,
It’s such a lovely sight!
The flames go up, the smoke blows round,
The bonfire crackles loud,
It sizzled like a frying-pan,
And sparks fly in a crowd!
It looks so lovely in the dark –
Oh, gardener, may we stay
And sit close by it all night long?
Do tell us that we may!
Guy Fawkes Day (a poem by Enid Blyton)
Another poem which hasn’t been used elsewhere is Guy Fawkes Day from Teachers World November 1922.
In gardens all around are bonfires big and small,
And we’ve got a simply lovely one behind our garden wall;
I’m very busy poking it to make it flaming-red,
And Peter’s getting all our fireworks from the garden-shed.
The sky is full of whizzing rockets- just a streak of light,
And then a bunch of coloured stars comes falling thro’ the night,
Then bang! A Roman candle shoots its glory in the air,
And it lights up all the garden with a green and yellow glare!
The catherine wheels are spluttering and whizzing round and round,
And golden rain is dripping with a pretty crackling sound;
Funny little squibs are jumping everywhere about,
And some go hopping in the fire, and find they can’t get out!
Oh! poke the bonfire harder, till the sky is all a-glow,
And shout, “three cheers for Guy who lived so very long ago!”
For whatever poor old Guy Fawkes did that shouldn’t have been done,
It’s all because of him we’re having fireworks and fun!
This one’s also from Teachers World, November 1938 this time.
Bobby has bought a lot of fireworks for fireworks night and he and his friends have been building a bonfire on the hill. One evening he takes an old chair that his granny has given him to burn, and finds the shepherd has fallen and hurt his leg.
The shepherd begs Bobby not to leave him – not even to fetch help – so Bobby sets off all his rockets a few at a time until help arrives.
The doctor who treats the shepherd gives Bobby some money as a reward so he can guy even more fireworks!
Read it in full here.
Mister Guy Fawkes
Mister Guy Fawkes, I’m afraid,
Was not a kindly man,
With others helping him he laid
A bad and foolish plan
They said, “We don’t like James the First
Upon the English throne,
We think he is the very worst
Of all the kings we’ve known.”
So quite a lot of time they spent
Within a cellar small
Beneath the Houses of Parliament,
And there, against the wall,
The stores the gunpowder away,
A very deadly thing,
To blow up Parliament the day
‘Twas opened by the King.
But someone heard about the plot
And to the cellar sped,
Discovered Guy Fawkes on the spot-
And so he lost his head!
And ever since we all remember
Guy Fawkes’ wicked plan,
And on the fifth of each November
We do all we can
To make a really frightful noise
With fireworks loud and bright!
We’ll thank old Guy Fawkes, girls and boys,
For starting Firework Night!
A nice little history lesson in a poem. I wonder if children now are as aware of the reason for the 5th of November celebrations as they presumably were in Blyton’s time. You don’t see children making Guys anymore, and I don’t know if many displays still put Guys on them.
It’s strange to see her (twice) thanking Guy Fawkes for his actions. Bonfire night is meant to be a celebration of foiling the plot! Maybe ‘thanks for being so incompetent, Guy, so that nobody died but we get to have bonfire night’ just wouldn’t fit into a poem.
My house has a great view of one of the two parks the fireworks are set off from, but I won’t be home until 8.30, long after all the fun, on November 5th this year. Oh well – I hope you can all go and see the fireworks and have lots of fun.