Thursday, June 18, 2015

Enid Blyton's SECRET SEVEN series

Enid Blyton popped up in my news media feed this morning because of an exhibit about her and her work that is on national tour in the UK. Somewhere in my reading about children's literature, I'd read something about her work being controversial. I rummaged around a bit and hit on the golliwogs in her stories. I poked around a bit more and found that she has characters who play Indian ("Red Indian" as it is called in the UK) in the Secret Seven series.

According to The Telegraph, the images of golliwogs and references to them have been "doctored" in books in which they appear. I doubt if the same is true for the playing Indian parts of her books. I ordered The Boy Next Door and will see if any changes have been made. Course, I won't know till it arrives just which edition I'll get!

For now, check out these three illustrations (credit for these images is to the Enid Blyton Society website).

Here's the cover of the 1944 edition. Illustrations for it are by A. E. Bestall:

From what I've gleaned about The Boy Next Door, Blyton's characters peer over the fence and see the kid next door dancing like a Red Indian. Since they play Red Indian, too, they decide to put on their Red Indian costumes and sneak up on that neighbor kid and scare him. So... here they are, sneaking up on him:

But something goes wrong:

When the book arrives, I'll share what I read. Old books, yes, but Blyton is a key figure in children's literature. As such, her work remains influential. In the meantime, head over to the page about this book. There's a lot more illustrations there, and some comments about the story, too. No mention, however, of the problems in a play Indian theme.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just had one of her books turn up in my worn out pile. I thought about replacing it because I had heard of Enid Blyton and thought she might be important. Fortunately I looked on wikipedia and there is a section all about the "racism, xenophobia, and sexism" in her books.

I think I will just let her books fade away from my library.