Eileen Soper at Christmas


It’s no secret that Eileen Soper is my favourite Blyton illustrator. She is best known for her work on the 21 Famous Five books, both the covers and internal illustrations, but she also illustrated lots of short story collections, a few other novels, jigsaws, card games, nature books and lots more.

So here is a look at the illustrations she has done for various Christmas stories, spanning just over a decade. There are potentially many more but these are just the ones I happen to have myself. You might have seen some of these if you have read my Blyton at Christmas series, but there are new scans as well.


Santa Claus Gets a Shock

from Enid Blyton’s Happy Story Book, 1942

I’ve seen the Famous Five illustrations so many times in my life that I can’t help but see the Five in Soper’s other illustrations. That could just be Anne and George with Santa, had they known each other that young and had Santa dropped in on Kirrin Cottage one Christmas!


The Great Big Snowman

from Enid Blyton’s Happy Story Book, 1942

This isn’t strictly a Christmas story, but snowmen are associated with Christmas and appear on cards. The girl doesn’t resemble anyone from the Famous Five, but the boy with the cold knees could be Dick.


Five Go Adventuring Again

Obviously Soper illustrated the whole book, but of the 32 illustrations (not including the two dust-jackets and the endpapers) there is just the one that depicts anything Christmassy. We can forgive her as so much happens in the book that Christmas is the least exciting part.

Five Go Adventuring Again

Santa Claus Makes a Mistake

from The Green Story Book, 1947

Another Santa with two children by/in a fireplace. I’d say the boy looks like Dick again but the girl is fresh.

The Cracker Fairies

from Enid Blyton’s Lucky Story Book 1947

I’ve never featured this story before – I missed it on my previous searches because it doesn’t have Christmas or Santa in the title. Soper must like Dick Kirrin’s looks because there he is again! In actual fact that is William with his sister, Elsie. They have been ill over Christmas and too miserable to enjoy any of it, until they open some magical crackers.


The Tiny Christmas Tree

from Tales After Supper, 1949

Compare this to the little Christmas tree from Miss Brown’s Class below, it’s very similar. (I have a 1962 edition of Tales After Supper which I think is of a cheaper making, hence the awful colour of the paper).


Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year, 1950

The first edition of this book was illustrated by Harry Rountree, illustrator of the first two books in the Cherry Tree/Willow Farm series (coincidentally, Soper illustrated the third book), The Secret Mountain and around eight other lesser known Blyton titles. 

Eileen Soper then freshly illustrated the whole book for the 1950 reprint. I have the 1952 reprint which has the same Soper illustrations. Normally I date the book as 1941 (as I have done in my Blyton at Christmas series) but as I’m really looking at the illustrations I’m dating it as 1950 this time.


One Christmas Eve

This is perhaps less recognisable as it has no people in it, but I can still see Soper’s style in the castle (she’s drawn enough of them over the years!)


The Little King

This I can’t really recognise as Soper’s work. Poor baby jesus looks a little awkward without a neck.


Christmas Carol

Baby Jesus looks a little more natural here, and the animals are certainly Soper.


A Christmas Tale

Soper’s girls certainly have more variety to their looks!


The Christmas Tree

The three Santa Clauses we have had so far from Soper look very much as if they are the same person.


What They Did at Miss Brown’s School

What they did was make a Christmas cake, as above, and a little Christmas tree for the birds, shown below. Above we have Dick, Anne with longer hair, George and an unknown child.


The Christmas-Tree Party

from Tricky the Goblin and Other Stories, 1950

Showing the pictures alone here you could almost read it as a comic with little to no text, the illustrations show the story so well. There’s a young Anne (it’s really Janey) and her brother Dick (really Robin) and the child in the first image really makes me think of Fairuza Baulk. The changing colours between illustrations is funny as it looks like Janey has two identical outfits, one in red and one in pink.


Enid Blyton’s Bright Story Book, 1952

There are two stories in this one – one of which I have featured in my Blyton at Christmas, and one which I managed to miss entirely despite it having Christmas in the title.


 Santa Claus Gets Busy

No people but a very Soper-ish castle in this one.


One Christmas Eve


 I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at Eileen Soper’s Christmas works.

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1 Response to Eileen Soper at Christmas

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Fiona, when my husband was working in the UK 11 years ago, he ordered me this Eileen A. Soper catalogue at amazon.co.uk. They no longer offer it, but I found it here:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=The+Art+of+Eileen+and+George+Soper&_sacat=267

    George Soper was her father. I guess there must have been some exhibition on their illustrations before 2008.

    Like

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