Enid Blyton references in memoirs

I have managed to put together two posts so far, detailing all the references to Enid Blyton and her works which have turned up in other works of fiction. Now it’s time for all the ones I’ve found in memoirs. I’ve been keeping note of these references since long before I had the idea to turn them into blog posts (in some cases long before the blog even existed) so it took some work to track down the right books – I had taken photos of the pages but made no attempt to record the title!

Fictional references part one and part two

Bath Times and Nursery Rhymes – Pam Weaver

The honest memoirs of a nursery nurse in the 1960s is the tagline to this memoir and more or less explains what the book is. 

Books which talked down to the children were frowned upon, which is why we didn’t have a single Enid Blyton book in any of the council nurseries. It didn’t matter that the children adored her books. I had been one of them. I’d read all the Famous Five books and the Secret Seven but in the early 1960s, probably because she had dominated the children’s book market for so long, the professionals were quick to voice their disapproval. Later, when I moved on and became a nursery student my college teacher, Mrs Davies, quoted from Enid Blyton. Apparently she once told a reporter, ‘I sit at the typewriter and it just drips from my fingers.’

I’m sure if she did say such a thing, Enid Blyton meant it in an entirely different way but Mrs Davies wrinkled her nose in scorn and said, ‘well, that sums up her writing skill perfectly.’

It’s interesting that the council in this case thought that Enid Blyton talked down to children, whilst many others accused her writing of being too simple!


This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

At 8 a.m. one of the night sisters bleeps to tell me I did really well tonight and she thinks I’m a good little doctor. I’m willing to overlook the fact that ‘good little doctor’ sounds like an Enid Blyton character, because I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve had anything approaching a compliment since I qualified.

An unexpected reference here as there’s nothing jolly or cosy about Adam Kay’s memoirs about his time as a junior doctor.

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny’s Story – Brenda Ashford

Brenda Ashford’s memoir is practically peppered with references!

From virtually the minute she emerged from the womb, Granny Brown was expected to be obedient, dutiful, honest, hard-working, stiff-upper-lipped and emotionally self-contained.

And by golly she was all these things.

Little wonder when you consider her childhood reading.

Whilst I was raised on Enid Blyton, Granny Brown would have read something far more fear-inducing.

On her time at boarding school:

There was a strange sense of comfort in the unchanging daily routine but even so, boarding school was a bewildering place with many unspoken rules to learn and observe. As a spirited girl you could be sure I was always in trouble, even if it was more Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers than St Trinian’s. I was always one for fun and doing things I shouldn’t, especially when I fell under the spell of a beautiful but mischievous Egyptian girl called Leilah. In our dorm of five girls, as soon as lights went out the high jinks began – midnight feasts, dares and the like.

Quotes are included at the beginning of each chapter, from the fairly obscure –

‘Dear heart
And soul of a child,
Sing on!
‘The Poet’ – Enid Blyton

As far as I can tell this is a poem for adults that was only published in The Poetry Review 1919, so it’s a bit of an odd choice!

Chapter 4 headed The Matron uses this better-known one

The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.

Mr Galliano’s Circus

Chapter 7 – We’re All in it Together begins with the quote

Friendship – loyalty – staunchness in the face of danger.

The Sea of Adventure

Around the Village Green – Dot May Dunn

This one’s also well summed-up by its tag line The Heart-Warming Memoir of a World War II Childhood.

Mother is not well for most of November. Throughout the month, I return home from the market to find her and Karl sitting and talking in front of the fire.

‘You should pay attention to Karl’, says Mother. ‘He was at the university before he got called up. He knows more about our language than most of your teachers.’

Karl and I struggle through a few Enid Blyton books together. He is very patient and with his help, reading becomes not only possible but enjoyable.



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1 Response to Enid Blyton references in memoirs

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Flavia Leng, the daughter of Daphne DuMaurier, mentioned in her wonderful memoir that she always longed for Famous Five books which her mother disliked: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daphne-Du-Maurier-Daughters-Memoir/dp/1851586202/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ZBNOVLM6TB0W&keywords=Flavia+Leng&qid=1675944297&s=books&sprefix=flavia+leng%2Cstripbooks%2C156&sr=1-1


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