Happy New Year, everyone! Enid Blyton wrote such a wide range of material that it’s hard to find a subject she hasn’t at least touched on. There are, of course, some topics she gave more attention to than others.
New year got a fair amount of attention, after all, it comes around every year! I think she was a fan of resolutions as those are mentioned a few times.
Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of illustrations to go with these (mostly early) works so I hope you didn’t have too much to drink before tackling this.
1920s New Years
On New Year’s Resolutions from The Teachers World 1005, Jan 1924
This is a rather serious article, I suspect to be read by the teachers and not their children.
Blyton comes firmly down on the side of resolutions and suggests it’s better to have a positive I will resolution rather than a negative I won’t resolution.
Read the article in full here .
A New Year from The Teachers World 1069, Dec 1924
This is a cheery look at how everyone gets a New Year which will brings a fresh start along with all the wonders of spring.
Read it in full here (where you will also find a poem titled New Year Sing-Song).
New Lamps for Old from The Teachers World 1133, Dec 1925
This is a strange one. I’ve not heard the tale of Father Time collecting old lamps for new ones on New Year’s Eve. There’s a poem of that title by Rudyard Kipling but it seems to have a different background. It may be something Enid has made up as the whole article is a huge metaphor where the old lamps represent people who have become jaded and miserly.
Read it here and see what you make of it.
The Golden Promise: A New Year Story from The Teachers World 1135, Jan 1926
This is a lovely story, though it has two curious elements. One is that it specifies the year as 1925, and secondly Blyton speaks to the reader near the start. She often addressed the readers at the end of chapters in her adventure novels but here she says I once saw the number written down but I couldn’t have read it out. Anyway…
The story is of a bored old wizard who has a ton of money but nothing to spend it on. Then at his door arrives a small child – a Little New Year who has fallen from Father Time’s sleigh. He is terribly upset that he is lost in fairyland and won’t reach the mortal world in time for New Year, and even more so that he has lost some of his spring flowers and animals.
The wizard, who at first comes across as somewhat aloof (he may even be a cruel wizard for all we know) suddenly melts at the child’s tears and does all he can to make things better.
I have not done it justice at all in that summary so please do read it for yourself, it’s such a shame it hasn’t been collected anywhere else. There’s no reason the year at the start couldn’t have been changed for a new publication.
New Year Letter from The Teachers World 1261, Jan 1928
This one’s addressed to boys and girls. It combines a couple of her favourite themes: nature and doing good. She extols the joys of the spring to come (she even enjoys January, apparently), and hopes that the children reading will become happier, braver and kinder as the year goes on.
Read the letter here.
1930s New Years
The New Year from The Teachers World 1389, Jan 1930
A short but sweet nature-themed poem (and a few mentions of the New Year in the letter below, too).
A Happy New Year from The Teachers World 1597, Jan 1934
This is another poem, this time about what Gillian would wish for at the New Year.
Poor Mr Tumpy from The Teachers World 1389, Jan 1930
Mr Tumpy is probably one of her less-well-known characters. I’ve not read any of his stories though I know there’s one about him and his caravan. Anyway, Mr Tumpy makes a mistake ala the Three Golliwogs, and tears off too many days on his calendar and thinks it’s New Year’s Day a day early.
Read his story here.
Little New Year from Enid Blyton’s Poetry Book, 1934
This is another poem which we have posted in full before.
January Days from Enid Blyton’s Poetry Book, 1934
We have shared this poem in full before too.
A Happy New Year Poem #2 from The Teachers World 1649, Jan 1935
This poem has the same title as the earlier one, but is a different piece. I suppose there are only so many possible titles for New Years’ poems!
This one has a nature-theme as well, and you can read it here.
A Happy New Year! from The Teachers World 1936
A story in which Benny makes a resolution to smile more and it pays off. Read it here.
1940s New Years
New Year’s Party from Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year, 1941
A clever story about three children attending a New Year’s Party. One is selfish and greedy, one is lazy and the other is kind.
Blyton introduces an idea I’ve only ever seen in her work, this one and another story featured later in this post. I assume she is using an old idea from folk tales or somesuch but I really don’t know.
The children go into a candle-lit room and see there are long pictures on the wall, pictures of children doing all sorts of things.
One is spoiled by blots of colour across it and another has lots of unfinished bits. The marked one represents the selfish child’s year, and the marks represent all the times she has been unkind. The unfinished one belongs to the lazy boy, the unfinished portions showing where his laziness has meant he has abandoned tasks.
They then see the picture created by the kind child and hers is unmarred and wonderful.
I really love this idea.
Happy New Year! from Enid Blyton’s Calendar, 1943
Yes, it wasn’t just books, poems and magazines Blyton wrote. She did calendars too!
It wouldn’t be of much use to write your appointments or birthdays on as the dates are the smallest part of this calendar. Each month has a few pages of beautifully illustrated poems and nature stories.
For January 1943 there is a New Year poem.
1950s New Years
Father Time and his Pattern Book from Enid Blyton’s Gay Street Book, 1951.
This is one I nearly missed as it doesn’t have New Year in the title! If it hadn’t been for a fellow Blyton fan sharing the contents of the story I wouldn’t have known it even existed as I don’t have a copy of the book.
This is another story that features the idea of children making pictures, or patterns, each year and the picture or pattern showing how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they have been.
This time there is one child, Robin, who is shown several patterns by Father Time. His brother’s is lovely but spoiled by black dots here and there where he has lost his temper. Another is attractive except where rips show a girl’s cruelty. One is almost all ugly – made up of greed and selfishness, with just one or two bright threads which represent hard work.
Lastly Robin sees his own pattern which is beautiful apart from the grey smudges of lies.
I really do love this pattern/picture idea. If you’ve seen it elsewhere please let me know.
You can read the story in full, here.
A New Year Promise from Enid Blyton’s Magazine issue 2 volume 1, 1954
As the title may suggest this is a story about resolutions. John always breaks his so his resolution then is to keep any promises he makes. His sister Dinah goads him (perhaps her resolution is to be more encouraging!) that he always forgets and breaks promises but he’s determined. He does well at first, but then forgets he has promised to put fresh straw in the dog’s kennel. He remembers in the night and, eaten with guilt, sneaks down to do it and instead catches two burglars.
The dog gets to sleep inside as a reward for helping and John is forgiven for breaking his promise.
John writes a letter about his story a few pages later. (It is absolutely Dinah in the story, I’ve double-checked!)
Happy New Year again, if you got this far!
Happy New Year, Fiona, and hopefully many many more World of Blyton posts! 🙂
Happy new year, Fiona. Always an interesting read, and informative.
It’s possible that Enid took her inspiration for the pictures (by the lazy child, the selfish child, and the kind child) from a well known Victorian literary source, ‘Portrait of Dorian Gray’, a story by Oscar Wilde, first published in its complete form in July 1890, in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. In the story, Dorian’s portrait is painted, but subsequently changes to reflect changes in Dorian himself.
It was a very well known story in my childhood, which Enid Blyton – as a writer herself – was sure to have been familiar with. And Oscar Wilde was a rather well known Victorian author. This story, in times past, was probably as famous as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. They both share a fantasy setting, in Dorian’s case his portrait aged, but he himself did not, reversing the normal situation wherein Dorian himself would have aged but the portrait would have remained as originally painted.
I haven’t read Portrait of Dorian Gray but I’m familiar with the general plot. I didn’t make that connection myself but it’s an interesting parallel.
Oh dear, did I accidentally call it ‘Portrait’ of Dorian Gray? I see I did! I believe the proper title is ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’!
My lack of literary knowledge notwithstanding, Oscar Wilde was a well known Victorian author and celebrity, at the time when Enid Blyton was writing for ‘Teachers World’ in the 1920s. Schoolteachers would have recognised his story as her literary source, just as much as they would have recognised some other sources she drew on, which I’ve mentioned in other posts.
‘Always steal from the best’ is a much-quoted literary maxim. And although Enid was hardly stealing from Wilde, she certainly didn’t come up with this idea of a painting having a connection with its subject.
When she came to write longer pieces, in her novels, her work did not really have earlier sources, but in writing short stories it is very hard to entirely avoid the influence of other people’s stories, if you hope to have much impact in a very short piece. I’m not suggesting her earliest work has anything wrong with it, I’m just pointing out that in her beginnings it is possible to see traces of stories she herself had read as a child. It can be quite interesting to bear in mind, in reading her early work, that there might be elements in them which come from her favourite childhood tales. You want to keep an eye open for allusions to Grimm’s Fairy Tales (1823 translation), or Hans Christian Andersen, and other such sources!
I don’t expect to find echoes of Edgar Allan Poe, or ‘Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde’, but we might find other echoes, perhaps even in ‘Five on a Treasure Island’. Had you considered, for instance, that its title might be an allusion to a certain novel (‘Treasure Island’) by Robert Louis Stevenson?
And as I forgot to mention, the very fact that Georgina takes the name ‘George’ in the Famous Five novels might not be entirely unconnected with the fact that George was the male pen-name adopted in Victorian times by the most famous of female authors.
I’d bet you’ve never heard of her: Mary Ann Evans.
But Enid would have known her, by her more familiar pen-name of George Eliot. And so Enid’s best known heroine (sorry, it seems that nobody ever remembers Darrell Rivers!) became known as “George”.
Mary Ann Evans wrote romantic novels, of gigantic length. Her books were as long as those of Charles Dickens — actually some of hers were longer than his. But she wanted to be treated like a man: so Enid borrowed her pen-name for the tomboy character she created who also wanted to be treated like a man.
Oops, and I followed your mistake. Shameful as the book is sitting on my shelf!
I’m sure Blyton would have been well aware of Treasure Island, though it’s not a book or author I can recall seeing listed amongst her childhood books.