Enid Mary Blyton was an English childrens writer whose books have been among the worlds best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blytons books are enormously popular, and have been translated into almost 90 languages, her first book, Child Whispers. Her writing was unplanned and sprang largely from her unconscious mind, the sheer volume of her work and the speed with which it was produced led to rumours that Blyton employed an army of ghost writers, a charge she vigorously denied. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Blyton felt she had a responsibility to provide her readers with a moral framework. In particular, through the clubs she set up or supported, she encouraged and organised them to raise funds for animal and paediatric charities. The story of Blytons life was dramatised in a BBC film entitled Enid, featuring Helena Bonham Carter in the title role, there have also been several adaptations of her books for stage, screen and television. Enid Blyton was born on 11 August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London, Enids younger brothers, Hanly and Carey, were born after the family had moved to a semi-detached villa in Beckenham, then a village in Kent. A few months after her birth Enid almost died from whooping cough, but was nursed back to health by her father, whom she adored. Thomas Blyton ignited Enids interest in nature, in her autobiography she wrote that he loved flowers and birds and wild animals, Enid was devastated when he left the family shortly after her thirteenth birthday to live with another woman. Enid and her mother did not have a relationship. From 1907 to 1915 Blyton attended St Christophers School in Beckenham and she was not so keen on all the academic subjects but excelled in writing, and in 1911 she entered Arthur Mees childrens poetry competition. Mee offered to print her verses, encouraging her to produce more, Blytons mother considered her efforts at writing to be a waste of time and money, but she was encouraged to persevere by Mabel Attenborough, the aunt of a school friend. Blytons father taught her to play the piano, which she mastered well enough for him to believe that she might follow in his sisters footsteps, Blyton considered enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music, but decided she was better suited to becoming a writer. Seckford Hall, with its allegedly haunted room and secret passageway provided inspiration for her later writing, at Woodbridge Congregational Church Blyton met Ida Hunt, who taught at Ipswich High School, and suggested that she train as a teacher. By this time she had almost ceased contact with her family, in March 1916 her first poems were published in Nashs Magazine. In 1920 she moved to Southernhay in Hook Road Surbiton as nursery governess to the four sons of architect Horace Thompson and his wife Gertrude, with whom Blyton spent four happy years. Owing to a shortage of schools in the area her charges were soon joined by the children of neighbours, in 1920 Blyton relocated to Chessington, and began writing in her spare time
Image: Enid Blyton
Seckford Hall in Woodbridge, Suffolk, was an inspiration to Blyton with its haunted room, secret passageway and sprawling gardens.