Enid Blyton is best known for her children’s books including ‘Noddy’, the ‘Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’. During her lifetime, Blyton wrote more than 700 books and 4,500 short stories which are read and loved by generations of readers across the world even today. But in a new development, Charity English Heritage has updated its official website and acknowledged Enid Blyton’s problematic views on race and culture.
Charity English Heritage administers the Blue Plaque scheme in the United Kingdom that honors historical figures. A blue plaque was placed by English Heritage at Blyton’s former home at 207 Hook Road, Chessington in 1997, where she started her storytelling skills. But the plague’s information provided online has now been updated and it calls her out about her racist views. It’s noted that the Charity had pledged to review its blue plagues following the global Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
Mentioning racism in Blyton’s works, a statement on her profile on English Heritage’s official website reads, “Blyton’s work has been criticized during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia, and lack of literary merit. A 1966 Guardian article noted the racism of ‘The Little Black Doll’ (1966), in which the doll of the title, Sambo, is only accepted by his owner once his ‘ugly black face’ is washed ‘clean’ by rain. In 1960 the publisher Macmillan refused to publish her story ‘The Mystery That Never Was’ for what it called its ‘faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia’. The book, however, was later published by William Collins… In 2016, Blyton was rejected by the Royal Mint for commemoration on a 50p coin because, the advisory committee minutes record, she was ‘a racist, sexist, homophobe and not a very well-regarded writer’.”
However, English Heritage also says, “Others have argued that while these charges can’t be dismissed, her work still played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read.”
Reacting to the news on Twitter, fans of the popular author said that it was wrong to judge Enid Blyton for her thoughts and views based on today’s social standards. While others supported the idea of mentioning why some of her works could be considered problematic. Here’s what some people tweeted:
Now Enid Blyton’s work is being termed as ‘xenophobic’ & is said to ‘lack literary merit’.Like millions of readers whose imagination was fuelled by her books,there goes my childhood I guess.The world is a cruel place but the faraway tree & Malory towers had nothing to do with it.
— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) June 17, 2021
I mean would you seriously read this stuff to your kids? No? Then what's the problem?
Criticism of racist children's book author is not a personal criticism of you. Recognising that British/English history & culture has quite a lot of racism is not a personal attack on you.
— Christian K Hughes (@hughesck) June 17, 2021
Have to add… if you don't think that (some) of Enid Blyton's books are racist then that's simply because you haven't revisited them or reread them. Noddy and Toy town in their original form are a great place to start. Jaw dropping stuff.
— Otto English (@Otto_English) June 17, 2021
Whilst I'm always for pointing ou these things, Enid Blyton is a an odd one for people to bring up again. Problematic part of her books (not just racism) were pointed out in 60s. Revisions from 80s onwards. Plus kids for a while have been disinterested in her work. https://t.co/pDMMKcEQRt
— Steeeve (@FistOfFiori) June 17, 2021
Enid Blyton is racist apparently…. what ever next. Nearly every person in this country was brought up reading Enid Blyton. 600 million people have bought her books worldwide and now they deem her racist. Get stuffed.
— Janet L Ellis🇬🇧🥂⚽️⭐⭐ (@kazbahellis) June 17, 2021
Enid Blyton, who died in 1968, continues to be an all-time bestselling children’s author even today.