Enid Blyton's 120th birthday

Today (11 August) would have been the 120th birthday of beloved children's author, Enid Blyton.

Born in 1897, it is estimated that Enid wrote over 800 books, during a career which spanned five decades. To mark the occasion, we have examined some of her much loved books and how she came to write them.

Enid's love of writing began in early childhood, and her father was particularly encouraging of her hobby. As she got older her confidence grew and she started sending work to different publishers and magazines.

Finally her efforts paid off and her first book, Child Whispers, a collection of 28 poems, was published in 1922.

She wrote each book on a typewriter perched upon her lap, always with her favourite red Moroccan shawl nearby (she believed the red colour acted as a mental stimulus). She always said she didn't plan her stories in advance, but simply typed as the events unfolded before her. Enid was able to write a remarkable 6,000-10,000 publishable words a day.

No discussion of Enid Blyton would be complete without mentioning her acclaimed book series' Noddy, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

The iconic Noddy, a rosy-cheeked wooden boy with a nodding head, was first introduced to us in Noddy Goes to Toyland. Created by Old Man Carver, but living a lonely existence, Noddy soon found himself in Toyland, and went on to build himself a "House-for-One". Throughout the series, the mischievous Noddy is forever getting himself into trouble with PC Plod, and it is often down to his wise friend Big Ears to keep him in check, and offer some fatherly advice.

The Famous Five novels (of which Five on a Treasure Island features on the Kumon Recommended Reading List) follow siblings Julian, Dick, Anne, their cousin Georgina (George) and her faithful dog Timmy, on the numerous adventures they have whilst on their summer holidays. Across the series, the five roam freely through castles and caves, on moors and farms, and meet many mysterious characters.

Whether they're hunting for treasure, pursuing a criminal, or simply having a picnic, their adventures always leave us searching for secret passages in our own homes, and battling strong cravings for sandwiches and ginger-beer.

The Secret Seven series feature a society of seven young detectives. Enid drew inspiration from her own life when she created the Secret Seven, particularly from her son Peter (interestingly, also the name of the society's leader), who in his youth formed a similar secret society with his own friends. Just like the Secret Seven, he and his friends would meet in an old shed, use secret passwords and wear badges.

Unlike for her son, however, this secret society solved many marvellous mysteries, from missing valuables to dangerous kidnappings, continually restoring order to their community.

Thanks to her ability to brilliantly understand and capture the minds of children, Enid was able to, and still is, enriching the lives and igniting the imaginations of millions of young readers.

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