One of the most prolific and influential children's book authors in the twentieth century, B. wrote some six hundred books; new editions of her work continue to be produced in Britian and in numerous foreign-language editions throughout the world. The eldest child of a middle-class family, B. was reared in Beckenham, Kent, where as a teen she first developed her interest in becoming a writer. Trained as a teacher, B. taught for a year at the Bickley Park School in Kent, followed by a four-year period as a nursery governess for a family in Surbiton, before devoting herself full-time to writing.
In 1917–18, B. published poems in Nash's magazine and contributed as well to several literary and educational journals before publishing
“Peronel and His Pot of Glue” (1922) in the weekly Teachers' World, which initiated her career as a children's author. Her first book for children, Child Whispers (1922), was followed by Real Fairies: Poems (1923), both illustrated by Phyllis Chase. At this same time, B. began writing a weekly periodical column for Teachers' World, which, in addition to her numerous creative and editorial endeavors, she continued until 1945. Married in 1924 to Hugh Alexander Pollack, B. had already established a reputation for tireless energy and productivity, writing between four and five thousand words a day. She gained increasing recognition with The Enid Blyton Book of Fairies (1924), The Zoo Book (1925), and The Book of Brownies (1926), illustrated by Ernest Aris and republished in 1964 as Brownie Tales, and further enhanced her popularity by extending her readership through Sunny Stories for Little Folks, the magazine she edited and produced from 1926 to 1952.
In 1929, B. and her husband moved to “Old Thatch” at Bourne End in Buckinghamshire, west of London, which figured into numerous pieces for B.'s column in Teachers' World as did most elements of B.'s life, including her pets and even her children, For B., family and friends often served a literary purpose as characters in her STORYTELLING. This fact was not always a welcomed affiliation as evidenced in her daughter Imogen's critical account of her upbringing in A Childhood at Green Hedges (1989). Located in Beaconsfield, just north of Bourne End, “Green Hedges” was the name given to the second home B. would make famous, where in 1938 she moved with her husband and children. Here she established a daily routine that produced a steady stream of books for the remainder of her life. Adventures of the Wishing Chair (1937) initiated a highly productive period in B.'s career that produced a number of imaginative stories that evolved into a variety of sequels as well as SERIES. The FANTASY world B. created in Adventures of the Wishing Well was continued in works such as The Enchanted Wood (1939) and The Magic Faraway Tree (1943). The Secret Island (1938) produced sequels such as The Secret of Spiggy Holes (1940) and The Secret Mountain (1941). In 1941, B. published the first book in the Adventurous Four series, and in the following year she published the first book in the Mary Mouse series, which continued until 1964, and the first book in the Famous Five series.
In December 1942, B. and her husband were divorced, and in October of the following year she married Kenneth Darrell Waters, a surgeon who would eventually assume responsibility for managing B.'s business affairs. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, B. produced book after book and continued to introduce new series, notably the MYSTERY series that began with The Mystery of Burnt Cottage (1943), the SCHOOL STORY series that began with First Term at Malory Towers (1946), another mystery series that began with The Rockingdown Mystery (1949), and the ADVENTURE series that began with The Secret Seven (1949), republished in 1972 as The Secret Seven and the Mystery of the Empty House. In 1949, B. was also commissioned by the publishing house of Sampson Low to create a series to be illustrated by the Dutch artist Harmsen Van der Beek that resulted in the numerous Noddy books. Extremely popular with readers, the Noddy books nonetheless received considerable criticism for the negative qualities of B.'s characterization of the boy named Noddy as well as for the suggested racist overtones interspersed throughout the stories.
Although often delegated a minor position as a serious writer for children, B. remains a significant figure in children's literature and continues to be read and appreciated. For many readers, B. came to symbolize the experience of childhood, and her stories provided the means to open the door of wonderment and possibility.
Further Works Silver and Gold, 1925 Tarry-diddle Town, 1929 The Red Pixie Book, 1934 The Children's Garden, 1935 Hedgerow Tales, 1935 The Famous Jimmy, 1936 The Adventures of Binkle and Flip, 1938 Billy-Bob Tales, 1938 Mr. Galliano's Circus, 1938 Naughty Amelia Jane!, 1940 Mr. Meddle's Mischief, 1940 The Treasure Hunters, 1940 Children of Kidillin, (as Mary Pollock), 1940 Three Boys and a Circus (as Mary Pollock), 1940 The Adventurous Four, 1941 Mary Mouse and the Doll's House, 1942 Bimbo and Topsy, 1943 John Jolly by the Sea, 1943 John Jolly on the Farm, 1943 The Boy Next Door, 1944 Five Run Away Together, 1944 The Island of Adventure 1944
republished asMystery Island, 1945 The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat, 1944 The Three Golliwogs, 1944 The Bad Little Monkey, 1946 The Put-em-Rights, 1946 Tales of Green Hedges, 1946 The House at the Corner, 1947 The Mystery of the Missing Necklace, 1947 The Adventures of Pip, 1948 Little Noddy Goes to Toyland, 1949 Humpty Dumpty and Belinda, 1949 Those Dreadful Children, 1949 Rubbalong Tales, 1950 The Ship of Adventure, 1950 Here Comes Noddy Again, 1951 Noddy and His Car, 1951 The Six Bad Boys, 1951 Up the Faraway Tree, 1951 The Story of My Life, 1952 The Mad Teapot, 1952 Noddy Goes to School, 1952 The Rubadub Mystery, 1952 Mr. Tumpy in the Land of Wishes, 1953 The Children of Green Meadows, 1954 Bobs, 1955 Gobbo in the Land of Dreams, 1955 Bimbo and Blackie Go Camping, 1955 The Troublesome Three, 1955 The Birthday Kitten, 1958 Bom and the Clown, 1959 Adventure of the Strange Ruby, 1960 The Mystery of Banshee Towers, 1961 The Boy Who Wanted a Dog, 1963 Five Are Together Again, 1963 Noddy and His Passengers, 1967 Adventures on Willow Farm, 1968 Once upon a Time, 1968
Bibliography Dixon, B. “The Nice, the Naughty, and the Nasty: The Tiny World of Enid B.,” Children's Literature in Education, 15 (1974): pp. 43–61 Mullan, B. The Enid B. Story, 1987 Ray, S., The B. Phenomenon: The Controversy Surrounding the World's Most Successful Children's Writer, 1982 Smallwood, I. A Childhood at Green Hedges, 1989 Stoney, B. Enid B.: A Biography. 1974
Steven R. Serafin
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