Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Life Behind the Fiction

It was through the magical writing of Enid Blyton that I first realised and appreciated the power of a book in transporting the mind to a different time & place. I have many happy memories of being curled up with one of her books, reading with delight, secretly longing to solve those mysteries, go on those rambling walks, attend those wonderful schools and of course, sneak away for a midnight feast or be a part of those amazing tea parties!!!!

So it was with an increasing sense of disillusionment that I read this article this morning, about a forthcoming biopic which describes the popular author as she really was.

First thought: how could the woman who created such wonderfully warm worlds be the complete opposite in person??? She is said to have been quite the adulteress, but what truly shocked me was her own daughter's description of her as "arrogant, insecure and without a trace of maternal instinct".

However, the article also states that the author's father left her mother & her when she was 12, and that emotionally, she remained a child. Writing was therefore her way of escaping that pain.

Every Enid Blyton work that I've read, I've loved. There is an innocence and purity in those stories, and nearly all the characters she developed have real integrity, so as a child, I guess I naively transferred those qualities to the woman behind them and that's the impression that remained till date.

Its difficult to reconcile the sweet, motherly person I'd imagined her to be with the reality revealed by that article. I feel sorry for the child she was and sorrier for the woman she made of herself. Its saddening to know that the stories I've treasured all these years stemmed from a desire to avoid a painful reality.

Someday, my daughter's bookshelf will definitely hold a collection of Blyton's best because I would love for her to experience the same wonder, the same sense of revelation and excitement those stories gave me. Will I relive them the same way though? Sadly, perhaps not.


  1. Very disappointing to hear this but maybe the daughter was judging her a bit too harshly, my heart wants to think.
    Look at it this way...Enid Blyton was born and brought up in the early 1900's and women tht time saw very tough times and were geared towards survival....She may have had a problem showing her affection and her family misunderstood her gruff exterior.

    Or maybe I dont want to face the fact tht the woman whose books I loved & still love could have been so unfeeling. Somehow my heart refuses to believe this.

  2. Ohh :( This is really painful for any Enid Blyton lover :( I am feeling so bad for the childhood she hd and more for what she hs become nw :(

  3. I'm speechless & shocked .. Never even in my wildest imaginations could I have thought that Enid Blyton was bang opposite of what she stood for. The only thing so obvious is that she really didn't like reality & chose to portray a perfect picture through her stories.

    I feel so bad for her, I wish I could hide this article & allow the future generations to also adore her just the way we all did !!

  4. Dreadful! O my God. I still can't believe it even after reading that article. Like Reflections my heart refuses to believe this bit of Enid Blyton. That too when I'm just devouring her famous fives n st. clare's for a hundredth time today

    Feeling sad for her. I think u will enjoy her books the same way as u have done before, because her writing has a power to just pull the readers into it.

  5. Reflections - I tried justifying it too, but all the claims in the article were just too much. And its not like this is some tabloid sensationalizing some current celeb's behaviour....if they're producing a biopic on her, most of the stuff must be factual, sadly.

    Swaram - exactly my feelings!

    Lostworld - yeah, I think future generations definitely will adore her writing, her real life escapades notwithstanding.

    PNA - I know for sure I will enjoy her books again, nothing can detract from those great stories! But there will be that tinge of pity for the writer though.

  6. that is so saddening,Shalom. I loved to read Enid Blyton too while growing up. Her stories always transported me to an entirely different world and I so enjoyed being there.

    Despite this shocking revelation about her real self,I will make sure,like you,my daughter's bookshelf too holds books written by Enid Blyton.

  7. I love Enid Blyton books but am wondering, what has adultery got to do with her writing?

  8. Deeps - I absolutely want my daughter to read Enid Blyton and hopefully, she'll be as wonderstruck as I was when I first read them!

    Sraboney - Adultery has nothing to do with her marvellous writing; it just clashes with the image built in my mind as a little child :)