The Blyton enigma: changing critical perspectives on children’s popular culture

Until J.K. Rowling, Enid Blyton (1897-1968) was the most popular children’s writer of all time. Yet she was also one the most condemned and reviled. Critics dismissed or ignored her books, and librarians and the BBC banned her. Only in recent years has she been rehabilitated. In this essay, I trace the changing reception of Blyton, looking at critical writing as well as adaptations and revisions of her work. The different perspectives I explore illustrate some of the wider assumptions that are in play in adults’ responses to children’s popular culture.

You can download the whole essay (without illustrations) by clicking here, or if you want to read the illustrated version, click on the subheadings to read the different sections:

  1. Introduction: the Blyton enigma?
  2. Talking trash: literary perspectives
  3. Ideology: race, class and gender
  4. Reworking Blyton: satire and heritage
  5. A ‘child-centred’ writer?
  6. Blyton goes postmodern; conclusion
  7. Sources and references