Inspirational people surround us at every turn. To celebrate some of the incredible women who continue to motivate me on my writing journey I have decided to post a Monday Muse – a weekly look at the women who are my artistic inspiration.
For today’s Monday Muse I return to my childhood and honour Enid Blyton. I believe we all have that one author that sticks with us throughout our lives, and for me, it’s Enid Blyton. Reading her Faraway Tree series shaped my reading preference and would be a huge influence on my writing.
Born on 11th August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London, Enid lived with her parents and two younger brothers. Enid was extremely close to her father, and it’s said that he cradled her for an entire night when she developed whooping cough, refusing to accept the doctor’s claim that she wouldn’t make it through the night.
In a similar way that my own dad has offered me many words of wisdom over the years, Enid’s father also guided her in life, once telling her:
“If you want anything badly, you have to work for it.”
Enid’s first book, Child Whispers, which was a collection of poetry, was published in 1922 followed by several other books and hundreds of short stories, plays, poetry and reviews. Her hard work and perseverance paid off.
In 1925, Enid published The Enid Blyton Book of Bunnies (later re-titled The Adventures of Binkle and Flip) which some believe to be her first full-length novel. It was in 1926 that Enid began using a typewriter instead of handwriting her stories. When I was a youngster it was my ultimate wish to get a typewriter so I could emulate my heroine – I’ve still got that machine.
Enid had begun writing many of the books we know and love by the 1940s. The Secret series, the Famous Five books, and my absolute favourite, the Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series. It wasn’t until 1949 that Noddy made his first appearance.
I wonder if she ever thought it possible that nearly seventy years later her characters would be alive and kicking, and being mass produced as children’s merchandise.
Enid wrote about seven-hundred books which included her short stories. Her audience were children from age two up to young adults. She wrote mysteries, fantasy tales, nursery and nature books, fairy-tales and re-tellings of myth and legends. Her repertoire included school stories, religious books, plays, poetry and many other titles. It’s this dedication and variety that I admire. She didn’t limit herself or worry about fitting into any guidelines; she wrote because she wanted to share her stories with the thousands of children who loved her work. She once said this after reading Little Women by Louisa M.Alcott:
“Those were real children… ‘When I grow up I will write books about real children,’ I thought. ‘That’s the kind of book I like best. That’s the kind of book I would know how to write.'”
Enid Blyton died peacefully in her sleep on 28th November 1968, four years before I was even born and yet she had a huge influence on my reading and writing life. I loved escaping in her Secret Seven and Famous Five tales, and losing myself in her fantasy stories alongside Moon-face, Silky and Saucepan man. She remains my favourite author and my biggest inspiration.
Who is your favourite author from when you were a child? Share your Monday Muse.