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Blyton, Enid

Tagged: Author

(1897-1968) UK author, exclusively for children, and mostly for younger readers; it is estimated that she may have published as many as 700 separate titles, most of them very short, like the Faraway Tree tales, in which various worlds are accessed entirely by Magic. There can be no pretending that she was very comfortable with storylines whose satisfactory resolution would require sustained attention, as it is central to her work that her young protagonists safely return home, or are homeward-bound; but three of her series have some fantastic content of Children's SF interest. Later volumes of the Secret sequence, which begins with The Wonderful Adventure (1927 chap), have a Ruritanian air through the inclusion in the cast of the young heir to the kingdom of Baronia: The Secret Mountain (1941) features a light-complected red-bearded Lost Race deep in Africa, in a tale mildly redolent of H Rider Haggard; and in The Secret of Killimooin (1943), Baronia turns out to contain a similar hidden valley, though its current inhabitants are simply bandits. In the long Famous Five sequence, beginning with Five on a Treasure Island (1942), one tale at least, Five on Kirrin Island Again (1947), contains sf: the series Scientist, "Uncle Quentin", is kidnapped to gain control of his latest Invention, a new Power Source; as usual, nothing is heard of this potentially world-changing innovation after the story closes.

Of greatest sf interest is the Adventure series, beginning with The Island of Adventure (1944), which is written for the oldest audience she wished to reach. The eight novels are (as usual in Blyton) full of secret passages leading to McGuffin treasures, some of them described in terms that evoke the uncanny. In The Castle of Adventure (1946), an evil gang is attempting to steal a secret British Weapon, and The Circus of Adventure (1952) is set in the Ruritanian land of Tauri-Hessia. The Mountain of Adventure (1949) comes closest to sf, with the usual four children discovering a vast Underground laboratory inside the eponymous mountain, where an aged Mad Scientist is attempting to deploy his last Invention – an Antigravity Ray created through industrial-strength Transmutation of rare metals – to make one-person winged flight possible. Again as usual, the invention is left in abeyance after the children foil the foreigners who have suborned the old gentleman; their resourceful but mentally unadventurous Uncle Bill, high in the corridors of power, expects his boffins will have this technology destroyed, because it is dangerous. [JC]

see also: Ron Tiner.

Enid Mary Blyton

born East Dulwich [now London]: 11 August 1897

died London: 28 November 1968

works (highly selected)

series

Secret

  • The Wonderful Adventure (Birn Brothers, 1927) [chap: Secret: illus/hb/K M Waterson]
  • The Secret Island (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Basil Blackwell, 1938) [first appeared 24 September 1937-11 February 1938 Enid Blyton's Sunny Stories: Secret: illus/hb/E H Davie]
  • The Secret of Spiggy Holes (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Basil Blackwell, 1940) [first appeared October 1939-March 1940 Enid Blyton's Sunny Stories: Secret: illus/hb/E H Davie]
  • The Secret Mountain (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Basil Blackwell, 1941) [Secret: illus/hb/Harry Rountree]
  • The Secret of Killimooin (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Basil Blackwell, 1943) [Secret: illus/hb/Eileen A Soper]
  • The Secret of Moon Castle (Oxford, Oxfordshire: Basil Blackwell, 1953) [Secret: illus/hb/Dorothy Hall]

Famous Five (one title only)

Adventure

about the author

  • Nicholas Tucker with Kimberley Reynolds, editors. Enid Blyton: A Celebration & Reappraisal (London: Roehampton Institute/National Centre for Research in Children's Literature, 1997) [nonfiction: anth: in the publisher's NCRCL Papers series: pb/nonpictorial]

links

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