It was around last Christmas time, that I watched, for the first time, the film Enid, starring Helena Bonham Carter. It is a portrayal of the life of author, Enid Blyton.
Enid, the dvd
A lifelong fan of Blyton's work, I own lots of well read copies of her children's books. My favourites amongst others being,The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, Amelia Jane and of course, Noddy. I have since watched my children enjoy them also.
Therefore, when I settled down with my festive box of chocs to enjoy the film, I was in for a bit of a shock! I had always imagined her to be as warm and comforting as her stories...According to this film, that was very much not the case. Well acted, by a fantastic cast, the tale unfolds of a really rather unpleasant woman. She is even seen threatening to sack her chauffeur, if his cold is not gone "by Friday".
I very much enjoyed the film and would highly recommend it, but still did not wish to believe their portrayal of the author of my beloved story books. I needed to double check. Next stop, Wikipedia. Now, I know that people say, you cannot always totally rely on the facts given on that website, but I was just looking for a general idea of the lady in question. Below are pieces taken from Wikipedia...
Blyton was born on 11 August 1897 at 354 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London, England, the eldest child of Thomas Carey Blyton (1870–1920), a salesman of cutlery, and his wife, Theresa Mary Harrison Blyton (1874–1950). There were two younger brothers, Hanly (1899–1983) and Carey (1902–1976), who were born after the family had moved to the nearby suburb of Beckenham—in Oakwood Avenue. Blyton adored her father and was devastated after he left the family to live with another woman; this has often been cited as the reason behind her emotional immaturity. Blyton and her mother did not have a good relationship, and later in life, Blyton claimed to others that her mother was dead. After both her parents did die, Blyton attended neither of their funerals.
Blyton was a talented pianist, but gave up her musical studies when she trained as a teacher at Ipswich High School. She taught for five years at Bickley, Surbiton and Chessington, writing in her spare time. Her first book, Child Whispers, a collection of poems, was published in 1922. On 28 August 1924 Blyton married Major Hugh Alexander Pollock, DSO(1888–1971), editor of the book department in the publishing firm of George Newnes, which published two of her books that year.( The couple moved to Bourne End, Buckinghamshire(Peterswood in her books). Eventually they moved to a house in Beaconsfield, namedGreen Hedges by Blyton's readers following a competition in Sunny Stories. They had two children: Gillian Mary Baverstock (15 July 1931 – 24 June 2007) and Imogen Mary Smallwood (born 27 October 1935).
Enid and her daughters
By 1939 her marriage to Pollock was in difficulties, and she began a series of affairs. In 1941 she met Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters, a London surgeon with whom she began a relationship. During her divorce, Blyton blackmailed Major Pollock into taking full blame for the failure of the marriage, knowing that exposure of her adultery would ruin her public image. She promised that if he admitted to charges of infidelity, she would allow him unlimited access to their daughters. However, after the divorce, Pollock was forbidden to contact his daughters, and Blyton ensured he was unable to find work in publishing afterward. He turned to drinking heavily and was forced to petition for bankruptcy.
CLICK HERE TO READ AN ARTICLE FROM THE TELEGRAPH NEWSPAPER 2002, ON THE MEMOIRS OF MAJOR POLLOCK'S SECOND WIFE, TALKING ABOUT ENID BLYTON.
Blyton and Dr. Darrell Waters married at the City of Westminster Register Office on 20 October 1943, and she subsequently changed the surname of her two daughters to Waters. Pollock remarried thereafter. Blyton's second marriage was very happy and, as far as her public image was concerned, she moved smoothly into her role as a devoted doctor's wife, living with him and her two daughters at Green Hedges.
Blyton's husband died in 1967. During the following months, she became increasingly ill. Afflicted by Alzheimer's disease, Blyton was moved into a nursing home three months before her death; she died at the Greenways Nursing Home, London, on 28 November 1968, aged 71 years and was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium where her ashes remain.
Blyton's home, Green Hedges, was sold in 1971 and demolished in 1973. The area where Green Hedges once stood is now occupied by houses and a street called Blyton Close. Her daughter Imogen has been quoted as saying "The truth is Enid Blyton was arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult I pitied her." Elder daughter, Gillian, did not hold the same view toward their mother, and Imogen's biography of Blyton contains a foreword by Gillian to the effect that her memories of childhood with Enid Blyton were mainly happy ones.
(The above is taken from Wikipedia, I cannot guarantee all is factually correct)
So, all hope was lost! I have decided to get hold of a copy of Imogen's biography, meanwhile, I shall simply remind myself that none of the above changes the talent Enid had, or the vast and wonderful array of stories she left us.
I have my own collection of Enid Blyton books and I often sell them in my shop. The latest two were purchased by a lady in South Africa, who said they were a treat for her grandchildren. What a treat indeed. Any child who can get lost in the world of Enid's characters, is a lucky child and if you are anything like me, that does not just apply to children!