Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Enid Blyton

Go To
"I always wanted to write for children."

Enid Mary Blyton (August 11, 1897 - November 28, 1968) was a prolific author of English children's literature, producing around 800 books during her forty-year career, which were many British people's first introduction to literature, and which still sell well to day. To date, her books have sold over 600 million copies worldwide.

Her writing is mostly set in an idealised version of pre-war England, and reflects the attitudes of the time, using some now-dead tropes about race, sex, and social class, commonly mocked when Blyton is parodied. Often, her characters spend days roaming across the countryside, without any trace of adult supervision, eating lavish picnics and having jolly adventures fighting assorted villains.

While her work was highly influential (even all these years later, those who have read Blyton can't help but be reminded of the St. Clare's and Malory Towers books while reading about Hogwarts), there is a fairly large amount of Values Dissonance strewn liberally among her books, and it has come under controversy, although even that hasn't stopped her books from still being widely bought and read today, maybe because of the common knowledge that Values Dissonance was very much commonplace in the times she wrote, and it's not always present in them.

Enid Blyton's main series include:

  • Book of Brownies: From 1926. Widely considered as one of Blyton's best early works. Three mischievous brownies get themselves into serious hot water after becoming the Unwitting Pawn of an evil witch in kidnapping the princess of fairyland, and Must Make Amends by saving the princess.
  • The Amelia Jane series (3 books): The secret life of Living Toys, with the biggest and meanest of all, Amelia Jane, dragging her fellow toys into all kinds of troubles.
  • Binkle And Flip: Two bunnies in a World of Funny Animals. The former is a naughty troublemaker, while the latter is far more sensible but constantly gets dragged into hijinks by his pal. Could be considered a predecessor to Brer Rabbit below.
  • Noddy (24 books). Blyton's most beloved work, it's about the adventures of a little wooden toy boy named Noddy, who spends time in ToyTown with his friends Big Ears and Tessie Bear. Noddy would occasionally get into trouble with Mr. Plod for crimes he didn't commit and serves as a Taxi Driver for the other citizens.
  • The Famous Five (21 books). Four children and a dog regularly stumble across mysterious happenings.
  • Brer Rabbit (15 books). A re-telling of the original folktales, eventually expanded into some new stories with the same characters.
  • The Children Of Cherry Tree Farm: Four siblings from London spends a summer at their uncle's countryside home, the titular farm, and ends up loving the farming life. Receives a sequel titled The Children of Willow Farm in which the parents bought a neighboring farm.
  • The Mistletoe Farm: note  A farming family in the countryside ends up having to share living with their three spoilt city cousins after the cousins' house gets burnt down in a fire. A sequel was later written where the city cousins move to their own smaller more modern farm and face trouble there.
  • The Mystery Series (6 books). Four children, a dog and a monkey go on a quest to find one of the children's missing father, solving mysteries as they go.
  • Five Find-Outers (15 books). Five children and a dog solve a mystery every summer holiday.
  • The Secret Seven (15 books). Seven children and a dog form a detective club and solve mysteries during term-time.
  • Malory Towers (6 books). One girl progresses through a Boarding School.
  • St Clare's (6 books). A pair of twins progress through a Boarding School.
  • Bimbo And Topsy: The misadventures of a cat and a dog, the eponymous Bimbo and Topsy, with their Animal Lover owner whose house is a mini-menagerie of animals. Blyton specially wrote this for her two daughters, with the two titular characters based on her actual pets.
  • The Naughtiest Girl (4 books, plus 6 by Anne Digby). Elizabeth Allen makes trouble in a progressive Boarding School.
  • The Faraway Tree (4 books). Three children find a magical tree which has a different Magical Land at its top every week.
  • The Adventure Series (8 books). Four children and their cockatoo have an adventure each time they go on holiday together. Contains eight books in total, in order: The Island of Adventure note  (1944), The Castle of Adventure (1946), The Valley of Adventure (1947), The Sea of Adventure (1948), The Mountain of Adventure (1949), The Ship of Adventure (1950), The Circus of Adventure (1952) and The River of Adventure (1955).
    • The series was supposed to end with Ship, but because of demand from the fans Blyton wrote two more books, Circus and River before calling it quits.
  • The Wishing Chair (3 books). Two children buy a magic chair from a mysterious shop.
  • The Secret Of Skytop Hill (and other stories): A series of short adventure stories, and one of Blyton's later works (published in 1998). While most of the stories are standalone, five of them revolves around a junior wannabe detective, ten-year-old John Hollins, solving mysteries around the neighborhood.
  • The Circus Series (3 books). A young boy and his family join a circus and have adventures.
  • Now out of print, The Three Golliwogs is a book about a trio of golliwog dolls. It's out of print due to being a publishing nightmare in terms of modern race relations. Not only are the dolls based on a racial stereotype visually, but the text uses names that have since become bound to racism. An excerpt:
    Once the three bold golliwogs, Golly, Woggie, and Nigger, decided to go for a walk [...] So off went Woggie and Nigger, arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song –- which, as you may guess, was Ten Little Nigger Boys.
    • In 2000, the above book was republished as The Three Pixies - with three generic pixies in place of the golliwog characters.

Many of her works have been televised or filmed. The Famous Five is the one most commonly referenced, while Noddy is popular worldwide for its numerous Animated Adaptations, as well as a children's sitcom based off them. Blyton also wrote hundreds of stand-alone novels. Her books still sell around eight million copies a year. The Famous Five books alone sell more than two million copies a year, according to The Other Wiki.

In 2009, BBC released the made-for-TV Docudrama Enid which stars Helena Bonham Carter as the author. The film goes into detail about her relationship with her family (mainly her daughters) and her career as a children's book author.

There are two fansites, Enid and the Enid Blyton Society.

This author's books provide examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: A stock trope for Enid's works. Most evident in Uncle Quentin from the Famous Five novels.
  • Acceptable Feminine Goals: A fair proportion of the girls from Malory Towers seem to avoid this trope - four of them go on to university, one to a very prestigious musical career, and two set up a business together. One of them would have been an Olympic swimmer except for a disregard for the rules which nearly got her killed.
  • Adults Are Useless: partly justified since the adults tend, for the most part, to react the way regular adults would. Often it's not so much a case of 'Adults Are Useless' as 'Adults aren't as suspicious as they should be and don't trust their children'. Uncle Quentin is a particularly good example in that his major failing is that he is just like George - as hot headed as a blowtorch!
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Animated Adaptation:
    • Noddy in particular got multiple TV adaptations.
    • Both The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair were adapted by Cosgrove Hall as the first and second seasons of Enid Blyton's Enchanted Lands in the late 90s.
  • Anime: the St. Clare's books were adapted into the 26-episode anime Mischievous Twins: The Tales of St. Clare's.
  • Anti-Gravity: The villains of The Mountain of Adventure are trying to build anti-gravity wings as a weapon.
  • Author Appeal: Enid Blyton has a fondness for writing tomboyish female characters (George, Jo, Henry, Bertha, Bobby, Bill, etc.) in her novels who either crossdress or assume male names.
  • Audio Adaptation: Between 1955 and 1959, she narrated and read some of her Noddy books alongside voicing the characters. In later stories, actual voice actors were brought in to voice some of the characters.
  • Beary Friendly: Tessie Bear from the Noddy series is a kindhearted and friendly teddy bear. Same goes for Mr. Tubby Bear and Mrs. Tubby Bear who live next door to Noddy's house who frequently helps the character in certain situations.
  • Berserk Button: Most evident in George's hair trigger in the Famous Five books whenever someone is mean to her pet dog Timmy, or worse dares to call her a girl.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Anne from the Famous Five books is a Proper Lady but every once in a while, well you know how the Trope goes.
    • Darrell in the Malory Towers series is a perfectly lovely girl unless you really piss her off, and then she snaps.
  • Big Eaters: The Famous Five never fail to finish off their tea sandwiches for lunch.
  • Boarding School: The setting of the Naughtiest Girl, Malory Towers and St Clares books, and tangentially mentioned in most other series.
    • The Secret Seven are the most notable aversion; they are lower middle class and accordingly attend grammar school, though (as is typical) little is seen of their school life.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens many times to the assorted Kid Detectives.
  • Bowdlerise: Since The '80s a lot of her books have been edited for modern consumption — The Faraway Trees Dame Slap was turned into Dame Snap etc. The most recent was a "modernization" of the Famous Five done by Hodder in 2010, which changed the slang (e.g. swotter to bookworm) and tried to bring in more gender equality.
  • Brainless Beauty: In the Blyton world, characters who are overly concerned about their appearances are regarded as shallow, dumb and vapid at best, or an Alpha Bitch at worst.
  • Cargo Cult
  • Cave Behind the Falls
  • City Mouse: Cyril, Melisande and Roderick from the Six Cousins duology.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Her works contained loving and devoted families, and children who enjoyed life. Blyton's own approach to parenting and relationship with her younger daughter tended towards Abusive Parents. (Her elder daughter had fonder memories of her, though.)
  • Country Mouse: Jack, Jane and Susan from the Six Cousins duology.
  • Docudrama: BBC aired a special short documentary movie called "Enid" which shows her life as an author and her relationship with her family members, particularly her two daughters.
  • During the War: Due to the period in which she was writing, this crops up quite a lot. Rationing due to World War II leading to national hunger - well, not exactly hunger, but definitely a longing to be able to just pig out sometimes - also goes a long way toward explaining the Food Porn in her books.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Kollamoolitumarellipawkyrollo from The Faraway Tree books, for obvious reasons. He only finds out his name in the third book, and when he gets back and Silky offers to write it down and memorize it, even he's forgotten what it was.
  • Evil Cripple: Subverted in Five Go to Smuggler's Top, when the villain's henchman Block feigns deafness to avoid suspicion and eavesdrop on the secrets of the Lenoir family.
  • Food Porn: Featured vividly in several scenes such as the midnight feasts in her boarding school books and the countryside picnics in the Famous Five. Typically:
    • Picnics of freshly baked bread spread with new butter, crisp radishes, lettuce and tomatoes, and slice after slice of ham. This will be followed by generous slices of the fruit cake the farmer's wife gave them for being so polite and perhaps an apple or two. Note that apples are always munched; there is no other way in which an apple can be eaten, with the possible exception of "apples to crunch".
    • Giggly midnight feasts with a main course of tinned pineapple and peaches, chocolate and sweets, followed by an enormous iced birthday cake for dessert. Despite the huge quantities, the girls invariably manage to eat everything before the feast is inevitably disturbed.note 
    • A swelteringly hot day will be described in great detail before the children inevitably happen on somewhere selling delicious ices, when everyone will have at least two, usually three.
    • Ginger beer is obviously the drink of choice, but rich creamy milk straight from the farm or crystal-clear icy-cold water from a mountain spring are acceptable substitutes.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Her works often consist of a gender-balanced group of children, sometimes supplemented by a pet.
    • The Famous Five: Not counting the dog, the titular ensemble consists of two boys (Julian and Dick) and two girls (George and Anne), although one of the girls wants to be a boy.
    • The Adventure Series: Two boys (Phillip and Jack) and two girls (Dinah and Lucy-Ann)
    • The Secret Series: Two boys (Jack and Mike) and two girls (Peggy and Nora)
    • In The Far Away Tree, the second book has two boys and two girls.
    • The Adventurous Four: Two boys (Tom and Andy) and twin sisters (Jill and Mary)
    • Six Cousin Series: Three boys (Jack, Cyril and Roderick) and three girls (Jane, Susan and Melisande)
    • Averted with the Secret Seven, with four boys (Peter, Jack, George and Colin) and three girls (Janet, Pam and Barbara). The dog, Scamper, is male, and is also considered an honorary member. The girls are often undermined in the series, also, especially Pam.
    • Also averted with the Five-Find-Outers, who consist of three boys (Fatty, Larry and Pip) and two girls (Daisy and Bets); unlike the Famous Five, the dog does not count as one of the Five, leading to them sometimes being referred to as the Five Find-Outers and Dog.
  • Ghibli Hills: The rather idealised landscapes through which The Famous Five et al roam and adventure.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Perhaps best exemplified in The Magic Faraway Tree when Dick, frustrated at having his name misheard by a hard-of-hearing character, shouts back at him, "Not Chick, but Dick!". You had to wonder if Enid was just a little bit in on the joke.
    • George from the Famous Five has a mother called Fanny. Jo from The Faraway Tree also had a sister called that.
      • The modern reprint of the Faraway Tree books changed names to Rick and Frannie.
      • However, the character of the same names in the Famous Five books have not have their names changed in reprints.
    • The words "gay" and "queer" are liberally used throughout the books in their traditional meanings, long before they came to mean what they do today.
  • Identical Stranger: Jo the Gypsy girl is a dead ringer for George
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A different pattern for each series:
    • Five Go To Somewhere Or Do Something (parodied with the Comic Strip's Five Go Mad In Dorset)
    • The X of Adventure
    • The R Mystery (an adjective that begins with R)
    • Numbered Something at Malory Towers
    • Someone or X Form at St Clares
  • Kid Detective
  • Lighthouse Point
  • Living Toys: The Noddy books starring Noddy takes place in Toy Town in Toyland where the main cast are living dolls and toys. The exception is Big Ears (a brownie/gnome), The Goblins, and Father Christmas/Santa Claus. In the book Noddy Meets Father Christmas, it's revealed that he's the King Of Toyland.
  • Master of Disguise: Fatty in the Five Find-Outers series.
  • Magical Land
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted (mostly), notably in Malory Towers, in which the logical progression in ages is unavoidable. The Famous Five, however, are notable for being portrayed as in their mid-teens at most even though the preponderance of school holidays gives a timeline of several years. (Cover illustrations have attempted to portray them as older but that creates its own problems.)
  • "Number of Objects" Title: Her multiple series and books that indicate the number of protagonists. For example:
  • Omni Disciplinary Scientist: Uncle Quentin from the Famous Five novels, although it's more an Informed Attribute. He's also something of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer as well.
  • Portmanteau / Neologism: "Delumptious" and "scrumplicious", being portmanteaux of "delicious" and "scrumptious". They became famous enough to somewhat enter the language, and are quoted by Zach in Goodnight Mister Tom, for example.
  • Romani: Turn up in various guises in Blyton's books, usually heavily romanticised.
  • Red Scare: A lot of the foreign villains have an Eastern European Communist slant to them (especially East German), although they tend to be euphemistically referred to as 'agents of a foreign power'.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: A recurring trope in Malory Towers and St. Clare's, where girls who don't like sports and do like fashion and makeup are mocked and condemned.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Mirabel in the St Clares series, initially.
  • Ruritania: Tauri-Hessia from the Adventure series.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Stock trope, bordering on Artistic License – Geology on occasion.
  • Shared Universe: Galliano's circus from the Circus Series appears in The Twins at St Clares, showing the twins and their friends actually speaking to Jimmy, the central character, who tells them about some of the acts.
  • Space Whale Aesop: One of her short stories has the message "Don't kill spiders, because if you leave them alone and then lose some money in the street then you might find it later in a web that they weave."
  • Team Pet: Most of Blyton's series featured the children with one.
    • Timmy the dog, the fifth member of the Famous Five books is probably the most famous. He is probably also the most useful, too, as he was an excellent guard dog who regularly fought off criminals.
    • Miranda the monkey and Loopy the black spaniel in the 'R' Mystery books. Miranda was often useful for fetching keys and delivering messages...Loopy was most useful for chewing hairbrushes and stealing mats.
    • Scamper the golden spaniel in the Secret Seven books.
    • Kiki the parrot in the Adventure series mostly serves as comic relief with her repertoire of phrases and tricks, but does get the children out of a few sticky situations.
    • Buster the Scottish Terrier in the Five Find-Outers series.
  • The Cat Came Back: In The Three Golliwogs, the golliwogs take advantage of the fact that they look identical to do this to one of their antagonists.
  • The Notable Numeral: The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jack Longfield gives one of these to his twin sister Jane about her poor personal hygiene in the first Six Cousins book.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Are implied to be the hostile foreign power in The Adventurous Four, although they are only ever referred to on page as "the enemy". At the time it was published, it would have been obvious to the readers who they were. The audiobook edition released in the 1990s made it clear that the story was set during World War II and "the enemy" were Nazis, including giving them German accents.
  • Timmy in a Well: Used more than once. In the first Famous Five book this happens very literally when Timmy the dog chases a rabbit and falls down an old well. In this case, though, it's the children who rescue the dog, rather than vise-versa!
  • Tomboyish Name: Tomboyish girls with names to match often crop up in Blyton's writing, but are usually quite distinct characters:
    • In the Famous Five, Georgina always calls herself George to the point that her use of her full name is used as an Out-of-Character Alert in one book. George is the most tomboyish of Blyton's tomboys, fiercely resenting any reference to her being a girl and any effort to make her behave like one. The Alternate Character Interpretation in Fan Fic is that George is transgender, but this wouldn't even have been on people's mental radar when the books were written and seems rather akin to treating "The Hunting of the Snark" as an allegory on the atomic bomb.
    • Darrell Rivers, protagonist of Malory Towers, one example where the tomboyish name isn't a nickname.
    • Wilhelmina Robinson of Malory Towers insists on being called Bill. She has seven brothers and so is 'more of a boy than a girl herself', and eschews all typically feminine pursuits in favour of her obsession with horses (but she's a very competent rider with her own steed, not just a paper obsessive, so she fits in well with the school's sporting ethos).
    • Roberta, the resident tomboy of St Clare's, is always known as Bobby. Unlike temperamental George and distant Bill, Bobby is a good-humoured and quick-witted class clown.
  • Treasure Map: In the first Famous Five book and one of the Adventure books.
  • True Companions: Just about all her series have the kids forming up as friends as close as family, fairly quickly.
  • The 'Verse: Although not explicitly stated, there are implications that several of Blyton's more fantastical works takes place in the same universe. The Faraway Tree notably have the Saucepan Man, a minor character from Book of Brownies a decade earlier, becoming a major character, while some of the magical lands from Faraway would later show up in The Wishing Chair.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe
  • Yellow Peril: Subverted with "the King of the Mountain" in The Mountain of Adventure, an Oriental Mad Scientist who seems to be an example of this trope, but is in fact just a harmless eccentric who's being manipulated by the real villains.