For quite a long time I have been keeping a list of all the times I’ve found references to Enid Blyton in other things I have been reading. I think I now have enough to write a post now, though it has taken me some scrambling around to try to identify some of the books as all I had in some cases was a photo of a single page!
The Little Wartime Library – Kate Thompson
“I’ve made a list of fifty classic children’s books.”
“Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, The Jungle Book. We’re down to our last Treasure Island, so that had to go on, various Enid Blytons…”
“Enid Blyton? Why’s she on here? She’s appallingly formulaic.”
“She’s one of the library’s most popular authors,” Clara protested. “One of our patrons, little Babs Clark, must have read The Faraway Tree at least a dozen times.”
“Poor child,” he said witheringly.
This is the most recent one I’ve found. Based on real events, The Little Wartime Library is set during the Blitz, where on the first day a bomb landed on Bethnal Green Public Library. After that a little library was set up over the tracks of the Bethnal Green Tube station, which had been requisitioned to accommodate thousands of East End Londoners.
The scene above comes as Mr Pinkerton-Smythe (chair of the Library Committee) launches another attack on Clara (Bethnal Green children’s librarian, turned head librarian) on the grounds that she lets children into the library, allows women to read popular fiction and is putting foolish ideas into women’s heads about leaving abusive husbands, to name but a few of her supposed misdemeanours.
Don’t worry, though, Mr PS gets his comeuppance later, which is exactly what he deserves.
Shopaholic and Baby (Shopaholic #5) – Sophie Kinsella
P.S. Do you still have a copy of In The Fifth at Malory Towers? There is a rather large fine on it.
In the fifth (aptly enough) novel of the Shopaholic series about Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood), Becky’s school librarian replies to a letter and adds this little post script. Becky never reveals if she still has the book, though!
The Wartime Midwives – Daisy Styles
“Just one more chapter, then I have to go and cook Daddy’s supper,” she said with an indulgent smile.
Robin giggled happily and snuggled up closer to his mother. “What happens next in The Enchanted Wood?” he whispered.
Once again Gloria opened Enid Blyton’s popular book and continued reading until Robin’s long, silky eyelashes drooped and he finally fell asleep.
Forcing herself to stay balanced in the midst of a highly emotional storm, Gloria gathered her son into her arms and comforted him.
“Shirley’s just gone home for a little holiday,” she murmured. “When she’s back, we’ll read The Enchanted Wood together, just like we always have.”
This is another WWII book, this time set in a(n unmarried) mother and baby home on the Lancashire coast. Gloria has been evacuated there, though she is married, and continues reading The Enchanted Wood to her son, Robin, and also one of the young mothers.
There’s also this reference, which may or not be related to Blyton:
Big Ears – that’s the donkey’s name by the way.
Bookshop of the broken hearted – Richard Hillman
Fair-goers wandered across to Hannah’s Bookshop in a mood to spend something on literature perhaps. And a few of the ferret people from Fisher Reserve, when they could tear themselves away. Books were sold: Enid Blyton more than most; a number of Noddys, Famous Fives, Secret Sevens.
Blyton is fairly popular in Australia, I believe, so its’s not all that surprising to see her pop up here. This one is about a woman who survived Auschwitz and later came to Australia to set up a second-hand bookshop.
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
In the back office, one of the walls was covered with the signatures of visiting authors, everyone from Nancy Mitford and Truman Capote to Salman Rushdie and Enid Blyton.
It was in Bookends that Posy had met some of her best friends. Pauline, Petrova and Posy (whom she was named from) Fossil from Ballet Shoes, her mother’s favourite book. Not to mention Milly-Molly-Mandy and little-friend-Susan, the girls of St Clare’s and Malory Towers and the Chalet School.
As all the people milled about the courtyard, it was a faint glimmer of what the future might hold, Posy thought as she sent two little girls back to their parents with a complete set of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series.
This is a very different book to the previous one, despite the similar titles. Posy is my kind of girl when it comes to her feelings about books. Blyton was well-known for signing books and autographs but this is the first I’ve heard of her writing on walls. (It’s possible that Posy means signatures on bits of paper pinned to the wall, but she is lamenting the possible loss of her bookshop and all its memories; pieces of paper could be removed and saved while signatures on the wall itself couldn’t).
Why Mummy Swears (Why Mummy #2) – Gill Sims
I have one week till the summer holidays begin. I can’t help but feel awfully jealous of the Famous Five’s parents – not only did Julian, Dick and Anne’s mama and papa simply bung them off on Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin at the slightest excuse, but Aunt Fanny was always sending them off to island and moors and coves FULL OF CRIMINALS AND WRECKERS AND SMUGGLERS so that Uncle Quentin could work in peace at his inventing. I have frequently wondered if I could do similar… if only I could just send the children to live outdoors and go feral for the summer. As I recall, Uncle Quentin’s inventions never even made any money, which was why he and Aunt Fanny ere poor and had to look after the beastly cousins, which makes it doubly unfair that it is now so frowned upon to hand your children and bicycle and a packet of sandwiches on the first day of the holidays, and tell them not to come home till it’s time to go back to school.
Jane is eleven now, you see, and more than of an age for Famous Fiving. I did once wistfully suggest this to her, when we were in the middle of one of our frequent rows abut why she is not allowed an Instagram account yet, and she pointed out the many illegalities with this plan and threatened to call Childline if I ever broached it again.
I am feeling particularly bitter about the expenditure the the summer holidays necessitate, because I have been reading the Famous Five books with Peter though somewhat against his will, as he informs each night that he would much rather watch DanTDM than endure another chapter of marvellous Blyton-y japes, frolics and foiling of beastly common-criminal types
Peter, however, has not quite succeeded in breaking my spirit to the same extent as Jane, and so I am still forcing him to sit with me and roam Kirrin Island.
Were it not for the fact that I am just as adept as the next person at lying on social media, I would be convinced that every other child in the country spends the entire summer holidays in some sort of sun-drenched, golden Enid Blyton world.
The extensive quotes above make up almost the whole first two pages of this book, about Ellen and her struggles with her two children, useless husband and Judgy, their well-named dog. Give me another five or so years and I may be writing a similar rant about my own precious moppet (as Ellen calls her kids, entirely ironically, I assure you).
No Through Road (East End Murders #3) – Anne Cassidy
I don’t have the full quote for this one (yet, but I will once I’ve dug the book out of my wardrobe).
Patsy Kelly (a teenage amateur detective) is looking into a murder and visits the dead teenager’s bedroom. On the shelf she spots;
Five on an Island
This is the reference that started the list, which is why I didn’t take care to quote more than just the book title. This was before I had started the blog, though, so I’m not sure what I had intended to do with that bit of information way back then, other than wanting to note it especially as Cassidy got the book title wrong.
Double Act – Jacqueline Wilson
Garnet likes old books too – stuff like Little Women and What Katy Did and all those E. Nesbit books. And she reads twin books too. Books like The Twins at St Clare’s. And all the Sweet Valley Twins. I read them too, because you can read them nice and quickly.
WANTED: GIRL TWINS
Sunnylea Productions are going to turn Enid Blyton’s much loved Twins at St Clare’s books into a children’s television serial. Auditions start on Monday for the plum parts, the twins themselves, so any likely lively outgoing twins girls aged 10-14 with showbiz ambitions can show up at 10 Newlake Street, London, W1, at nine o’clock.
I can’t go to an audition in London! I can’t say a lot of stuff with everyone watching. It’ll be even worse than being a sheep. Why won’t Ruby understand? She won’t listen to me.
She’s riffling through The Twins at St Clare’s right this minute, trying to choose which bit we’ll act out.
The talented gems of stage and screen, identical twins Ruby and Garnet Barker, who first sprang to stardom in the acclaimed television serial, ‘The Twins at St Clare’s’
And I’ve been thinking – we’ll have to inject a little ooomph into our act to make us stand out in front of all these others. So we’ll still do the scene with the twins having a battle with Mam’ zelle, but we’ll act Mam’ zelle too. Don’t look so scared,
I’ll do her. I am good at doing zee French accent, ma cherie, oh la la, très bon.’
‘We’ve got our audition piece all prepared,’ Ruby said brightly, trying to show them we were dead professional. ‘I’m Pat and she’s Isabel and I’m also Mam’ zelle and at the end I’m Janet as well.’
It’s not surprising that Jaqueline Wilson chose an Enid Blyton book as she has said before that she was a big fan growing up. It’s a shame that this St Clare’s TV series is made, up though! From my limited knowledge of the St Clare’s books (I’ve only read them once), the references all look accurate though at first I misread battle as bath for some reason which confused me greatly.
Do Not Disturb – Claire Douglas
In the distance I can see the ring of mountains that forms part of the Brecons, their tops disappearing into cloud. Evie jokes that there’s another world up there, as though the mountains are like the Faraway Tree in her favourite Enid Blyton story.
I haven’t read this book, but it was posted by a member of an Enid Blyton Facebook group. So thank you to Lisa Babs Brûlée for this one. (I admit, though that I read the full page from the photo and spent quite a while thinking about how I did not recall any of the characters. Luckily I noticed that I had saved the photo with the book title as the file name or I would have been completely baffled.)
Folly (Alex Duggins #1) – Stella Cameron
“We took in a few Enid Blytons yesterday. You might like to look at them,” said the bookshop owner.
“I’ll do that,” Alex said.
She collected children’s books. On her library shelves were beautiful classical books, but she also gathered in childhood favourites – even if the condition was less than fine. She loved the charming illustrations, especially the line drawings in some of them.
She saw how torn the top book’s cover was. Torn and taped together. But she also saw it was an original cover on a copy of The Circus of Adventure and swept it up. This was the only one missing from the books she already had in that series.
This is another one I haven’t read but I didn’t note who or where I found the quote. So apologies for not giving credit to whoever deserves it here.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
Sunday May 24th
I have decided to paint my room black; it is a colour I like. I can’t live a moment longer with Noddy wallpaper. At my age it is positively indecent to wake up to Big Ears and all the rest of the Toyland idiots running around the walls. My father says I can use any colour I like so long as I buy the paint and do it myself.
Monday May 25th
Bought two tins of black vinyl silk-finish paint and a half-inch brush. Started painting as soon as I got home from the DIY centre. Noddy keeps showing through the black paint. Looks like it’ll need two coats. Just my luck!
Tuesday May 26th
Now put on two coats of black paint. Noddy still showing through!
Wednesday May 27th
Third coat. Slight improvement, only Noddy’s hat showing through now.
Thursday May 28th
Went over Noddy’s hat with kid’s paintbrush and last of black paint, but [the] hat bells are still showing through!
Friday May 29th
Went over hat bells with black felt-tip pen, did sixty-nine tonight, only a hundred and twenty-four to go.
Saturday May 30th
Finished last bell at 11.25 p.m… The paint is dry but it must have been faulty because it is all streaky, and here and there you can see Gollywog’s striped trousers and Mr Plod’s nose.
I would have been embarrassed by Noddy wallpaper at that age too, though strangely I wouldn’t be now as an adult! I am impressed, though, that he painted a whole room at least three times over with a half-inch paintbrush. Must have taken all day!
The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3) – Jasper Fforde
“I think I’ve found an assignment that should test your mettle. It’s an Internal Plot Adjustment order from the Council of Genres.”
Despite my natural feelings of caution, I was also, to my shame, excited by a practical test of my abilities. Dickens? Hardy? Perhaps even Shakespeare.
“Shadow the Sheepdog,” announced the Bellman, “by Enid Blyton. It needs to have a happy ending.”
“Shadow… the Sheepdog,” I repeated slowly, hoping my disappointment didn’t show. “Okay. What do you want me to do?”
“Simple. As it stands, Shadow is blinded by the barbed wire, so he can’t be sold to the American Film Producer. Up ending because he isn’t sold, down ending because he is blinded and useless. All we need to do is to have him miraculously regain his sight the next time he goes to the vet on page…” he consulted his clipboard. “…two thirty-two.”
Later there is a whole chapter dedicated to Thursday’s time inside Shadow the Sheepdog, and I plan to write a whole post about it. Just as soon as I’ve read Shadow the Sheepdog myself, that is.
To explain, slightly, Thurday Next is training to be a Jurisfiction Agent, Agents being people who can jump in and out of books to fix plots, chase out characters who don’t belong and much more. Her visit to Shadow the Sheepdog, is her practical test to become a fully-fledged Jurisfiction agent, and the plan given to her by the Bellman is to swap Shadow for another collie.
How many Blyton references have you spotted in your fiction reads?