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ENID BLYTON -    a teacher, a journalist, and more famously a childrens author.

   She was born born 11 August 1897 above a shop in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London. She was the eldest child of Thomas Carey and Theresa Blyton. Her father was originally from Sheffield and had to move to London for his employers, a cutlery firm. He was a quite well read man of many interests.
   She did go through an early sticky patch health wise when she contracted whooping cough, coming very close to dying.

   They were quickly moving home to Chaffinch Road in Beckenham, Kent, and there was soon a brother named Hanley for Enid in 1899. Then another move to Clockhouse Road and another brother called Carey born in 1902.
   Thomas had decided his future was not with the firm he had moved for so he started working for a clothes company, naturally with better pay and prospects, which included a move up Clockhouse Road to a house which was larger, and also with a larger garden. This garden Enid recalls in a 1952 biography.

   In her formative years she was an enthusiastic reader, especially books like Alice in Wonderland. Was this the start of her passion for writing children's books ? Because her father was quite well read he and Enid bonded very easily to the exclusion of all else, which led to tension in the family environs.
   It wasn't just the reading that produced the bond, they would spend many hours walking in the countryside, where he had a willing pupil to pass on his knowledge of nature and wildlife.

   From 1907 to 1915 Enid was educated at St Christopher's School in Beckenham where she enjoyed her time and excelled at her endeavours leaving as head girl.
   Physical activities she enjoyed along with the academic work, but not maths. She did also enjoy practical jokes which some might consider childish, the childish factor she was to retain for much of her life and surely contribute to her ability to write children's books.

          Ginger Pop / Famous Five

  W're not doing guided walks at the
    moment, but am planning a massive
      Famous Five Adventure Trail 2012
for fans this year, click here:-

        Famous Five / Ginger Pop

   During her early years her parents were gradually slipping apart, it was suggested her mother was a difficult woman, or was it the pressure of home and children? Perhaps the fact that Enid was spending so much time with her father instead of learning to be the proverbial mother housekeeper which was pretty normal in those days.
   Things became so strained that in 1910 her father moved out having now found another woman, this would have been a traumatic experience for Enid.
   They did keep in touch and he provided some family support, but things would never be the same again.
   All of this involved meant a move downmarket to Elm Road, but it was still Beckenham.

   Into her teens she started producing stories and poems with a vengeance, but with little success until in 1911 an Arthur Mee printed one of her poems in a magazine.
   Whilst Enid had musical abilities and her father's family were musical she did not move in that direction, instead she persevered with the writing but was constantly rejected.

   Matters took a turn in 1916 when on a farming holiday where she met Ida Hunt who was a teacher. They got on very well, finding that Enid had a natural ability to communicate with children, helping in the first instance at a Sunday school.
   This quickly evolved to becoming a trainee-teacher later in 1916. She progressed well and at one point opened her own infants' school.

   In 1921 she met Hugh Pollock, a book editor, and her literary life ticked by until early 1922 when a teaching magazine published one of the many stories "Peronel and his Pot of Glue" which was specifically a children's story. During the summer she had a book of poems called "Child Whispers" published. This was going to be the beginning of a serious writing career.
   Spurred on by this good fortune she wrote more, but mainly for magazines. More books were to appear in the twenties.

   What might seem worrying was that a lot of the works revolved around the little people, elves and pixies, witches, wizards and goblins, now in her thirties, was she still remaining psychologically as a child?

   She took the plunge and married Hugh in 1924, they soon moved to Elfin Cottage, Shortlands Road, Beckenham, the next move in 1929 was to Old Thatch Cottage, Bourne End, Bucks.
   Perhaps because she was unable to conceive, she visited a gynaecologist who told her she had an underdeveloped uterus, much like a young girls. Now we have "writes like a child" and partly "built like a child"!
   If this was the case she still managed to produce 2 daughters, Gillian in 1931, and Imogen in 1933.

   Into the thirties she became very religiously aware, but stopped short of Catholicism because it was constricting. Her daughters were however baptised as Anglicans and attended Sunday school, although her church going was not so apparent.

   It was not until 1937 that she managed a novel, which was "The Adventures of the Wishing Chair".
   In 1938 Enid produced "The Secret Island" her first full-length adventure story. Publishing continued through the war despite restrictions. She even used the pen name Mary Pollock.

   She divorced in 1942, the same year the first Famous Five story was published, and married Kenneth Darrell Waters in 1943, having reputedly had a relationship with him since 1937.

   The Famous Five stories revolve around 3 children, the eldest Julian, next Dick, and Anne the youngest. They have an uncle Quentin in the country where they are destined to spend their summer holidays because the usual family holiday hotel is booked up.
   He is a scientist, always working, but feeling the pinch. He has a daughter Georgina, a tomboy who prefers to be called, or rather insists on being called George. There is of course her faithful dog Timmy.
   George having spent most of her year left to her own devices, is initially suspicious of the newcomers to her domain, but in time they all become the best of friends and share many adventures.
 
Enid with a young fan at The Grosvenor Hotel
Enid with a young fan at
The Grosvenor Hotel,
Swanage
&
her 'Kirrin Castle'/
Corfe Castle
'Kirrin Castle' / Corfe Castle
To see and learn
more about
'Enid Blyton Country'
visit
www.gingerpop.co.uk



   The children arrive for their holiday on the proverbial train complete with luggage, the nature of their arrival may well be built around what might have been seen at Corfe Station in those days, and is nowadays replicated by the Railway Company.

   Many of the stories are set in Dorset, which Enid discovered in 1931, and staying variously at The Ship, The Grosvenor and The Grand Hotels. Enid and Kenneth seem to have made a point of swimming round what were 2 piers at the Peveril end of Swanage Bay.

Who was Bill Smugs?
Can you help to solve the Mystery of Bill Smugs?
  Enid Blytonís hero predated James Bond by 8 years and was based on a real person that she had met at the Grosvenor Hotel in the early 1940s. This guest at the hotel got chatting to Enid one evening and casually commented that he would like to be put into a book. Enid laughed and asked if he had ever done anything exciting - her books were for children after all! He replied sadly that his life had been completely uneventful, but that he had always had a yearning to have been in the Secret Service. Warming to the idea he added that she could put him in exactly as he was with his bald head with hair only around the sides, and that she could use the nickname that he had given himself when he was a boy - Bill Smugs.   And so it was that Bill Smugs made his first appearance in The Island of Adventure in 1943 and would go on to fly helicopters and sea planes, and deal with forgers, gun runners and mad scientists.
  But sadly no-one remembers the name of that unknown guest at the hotel.

  Does anyone know of a Bill Smugs from their childhood, are you a relative? If you have any ideas please contact:
viv@gingerpop.co.uk
 

   In 1950 Kenneth purchased The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club for a pittance because the then owner, Harry Palmer, was too ill to keep it going, possibly because of financial difficulties. A 9 hole "Dene Course" was added. The next purchase was Sturminster Newton Farm which Enid only visited.

   Harry Palmer had purchased the club, with a 60 year lease, in 1942. It had undergone a number of name changes over the years variously known as the Purbeck Golf Club, the Swanage and Studland Golf Club. Harry Palmer changed it in 1947 to the Studland Bay Golf Club. It is of course now known as the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club.    Some publications suggest that the course was put up for sale to the members for £1, but nobody was prepared to take it on.    Enid's husband sold it in 1965 to a Harry Beckham Randolph.

   For the stories, "Kirrin Castle" is popularly believed to be based on Corfe Castle. However, further to the publication of one of her letters (1962) it seems the inspiration may have came from one of the smaller Channel Islands which she would have seen on her honeymoon. It has to be said that parts of her descriptions could be from either, bearing in mind she first visited Corfe in 1931. In part of the letter she wrote:
                  .....It was an island I once visited several times when I was
                        was in Jersey it lay off the coast and could only be reached
                        either by boat or by a rocky path exposed when the tide was
                        out. It had an old castle there and I longed to put the
                        island and castle into a book. So I did, as you know!.....

   "Whispering Island" is based on Brownsea Island, now owned by the National Trust and excellently managed.
   In Enid Blyton's day it was owned by a very reclusive Mrs Bonham-Christie, who would not tolerate visitors and allowed the island to return to nature. Enid described it as "Keep Away Island".
   "Mystery Moor" is reputedly based on the heath between Stoborough and Corfe, and "Finniston Farm" on her own farm at Sturminster Newton.

   Everything to stir the imagination of an author to produce a riveting adventure is in Purbeck as so brilliantly demonstrated by Enid Blyton.
   The year 1949 brought "Little Noddy Goes to Toyland" with sales soaring sky-high. Many more were to follow, who hasn't heard of Noddy now? Again reputedly, Mr Plod the policeman is founded on a Studland policeman of those days, possibly PC Christopher Rhone.

   At 50, Enid was becoming disillusioned with her publishers, and now being more of a social animal she wanted more control of her literary output that had been to a degree controlled by the publishers.
   To that end she was able negotiate with new publishers and launch "Enid Blyton's Magazine" in 1953. This was aimed at an older age group, but still children.
   She was able to use it as an advertising medium for future books, also charitable clubs and organisations. Unfortunately, in 1959, a damper was put on this by a paper strike.
   The Enid Blyton magazine was ceased in 1959, and now into her sixties she was having difficulty concentrating on her work, possibly through the early days of Alzheimer's disease.
   By this time however, beside her books she had written for many magazines, especially teaching magazines.

   Something of a curiosity about her writing has been a resistance by librarians and the like to display her books because there content was considered as sexist and outdated, also racist and for being snobbish. This proliferation of children's books would, it was suggested, detract from the reading of greater classical works. This attitude had in fact the opposite effect because even larger numbers were sold.

   She ultimately went on to write in excess of 600 books, including The Famous Five, which has the very apparent "Purbeck connection". For roughly 40 years of writing this is quite a staggering output.

   Her husband died in 1967. During the following months she became increasingly ill and she slipped away in her sleep on 28 November 1968 in a Hampstead nursing home.
 
 
Ginger Pop has a shop in The Square, Corfe Castle, where you will find lots of Enid Blyton books and lashings of ginger beer!
 
www.gingerpop.co.uk

There are also available, guided walks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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