Enid Blyton was born in East Dullish, South London, in 1897. She wrote over six hundred books in her lifetime, including many of the 20th century's most popular children's series. Some of her best-known works include the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, Malory Towers, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and Moddy. Enid Blyton died in 1968 but remains one of the world's best-loved storytellers and is consistently voted a children's favorite in reader polls.
An Interview with Enid Blyton
Posted on October 3, 2014 by pupate
I know it should be Fiona’s blog today, but she’s been at work and isn’t feeling too good, so I’m take over just for today, I hope you don’t mind! Now before you get all excited, I feel I have to tell you that I am not a medium and have conversed with the actual Enid Blyton or her spirit. Neither do I have a time machine or TARDIS (Doctor Who writers take note- can we have an episode where the Doctor meets Blyton?) and with that said the only way nowadays I could have gotten an interview with Blyton is by listening to an interview she had done.
I first got the idea for talking about a Blyton interview when I visited the Enid Blyton Society Forums and some kind soul and informed us that there was part of an interview Blyton had given had been played during BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programmatic listened to the short segment on Woman’s Hour (the relevant bit can be found here) and was then inspired to find a fuller interview to listen to and blog about. This led me to YouTube, which was where I thought I had my best shot at finding an interview, and in a way it was. However, I found that interviews of the kind I was looking for were in short supply and I had approximately two options.
The first one I chose to watch was a film by British Paths and was for a programmed called Personality Meet – Enid Blyton (1946). It’s a short documentary that gives an overview of Blyton’s home life, but does not involve any interview with the author. You see Blyton in her living room at Green Hedges with her trusty typewriter on her lap, typing away, and then answering fan mail. The voice over introduces her as Mrs. Darrell Waters, which as we all know was the name of her second husband, and tells us that her daughters Imogen and Gillian don’t need to wait for the next Enid Blyton book like everyone else because she is their mother.
There is never any interaction from the camera with the family, just the voice over and a jolly little tune. The narrator talks about the tasks Blyton goes through, and says that there are times when Gillian and Imogen have to persuade their mother not to work too hard and to play snap. The piece paints a nice little picture about how cozy the family life is, and Kenneth Darrell Waters is referred to as father in this piece. Its a lovely little clip really, but for me marked by the fact that now we know that life at Green Hedges with Blyton was not as easy and carefree as this piece would lead you to believe.
However nice it is to see the family together, that wasn’t really the point of my blog, but I thought it would be a nice little thing to talk about as there really isn’t enough in the video to warrant its own write up. So now, I will get on with the main reason for my blog. This video, which is just audio played out over a picture of Blyton – one I’ve always thought to be rather fetching – and is part of her BBC interview which the piece from Woman’s Hour was taken. I have no idea if it is the full interview, I suspect not, as it is labelled Enid Blyton’s Interview Part 1 however part 2 is conspicuous by its absence.
Either way it is nice to hear her voice coming over the speakers and listen to the way she speaks about writing, growing up, music and especially children. Blyton’s voice is quite easily a voice that I could listen to all day and as a child I would have been enthralled to hear her. Its a shame this interview isn’t longer, or at least the excerpt of it wasn’t longer, but it does I believe give you an insight into her motivation.
To start with you hear Blyton saying, “I always wanted to write for children” which is a nice little warming feeling to ease you into the interview. It’s quite nice this interview because there are no questions being fired at her by an interviewer which makes the whole thing easier to listen to and get lost in. Back to the interview, Blyton tells the listener that she told her younger brothers stories and how much she enjoyed it Then she talks about music, and her father wanting her to be a professional player, like an aunt of hers was, and having to practice the piano.
She describes this wonderfully because she says “If you have to work at something that you have no desire to achieve anything great in, it becomes a terrible bore.” I happen to believe this is true, not only then but today, in fact I think a lot of people would almost liken it to school, but that’s not what I’ve getting at. There was a girl I knew once who was a runner, a very good one, but she was getting bored of running and didn’t want to carry on with it, but she had to for her mother’s sake (I think) and she just became bored with it and Blyton’s words describe this situation perfectly.
Blyton then moves on to explain how she came to end up writing as a career, all down to a friend who asked her to come to a Sunday school and tell stories to the children there, and she found she loved it. Her music helped her write songs for the children. In fact, I believe that a Sunday school that Blyton worked in, is the one that Fiona and I visited when we went on an Enid Blyton Society day out to Beckham a couple of years ago. (Blog can be found here.)
She describes from there on that she knew she had to be a children’s writer more than anything else but she didn’t feel she knew enough about children to write the stories she wanted to write, so she opened her own school and practiced her writing on the children until she left to take up her career in writing properly. For three minutes long this interview tells us a lot about Blyton in her own words, and is rather refreshing in a way.
Its nice to actually hear her voice when the last time I heard “her” speak was when Helena Bonham Carter played Blyton in the TV film Enid, and her temperament came across as very different to what it feel like with this extract. Anyway, I hope I’ve wetted your appetite for these two gems of insights into Blyton’s life and that I haven’t been too boring! But please rejoice with me, as I have actually finished the promised blog! Miracles can happen!
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