Thursday, November 19, 2009

From BBC Archives: Enid Blyton


Excuse this long quote, but it really shook me. Before you dig into it, ask yourselves:
  • When you were a child, did you enjoy Enid Blyton's books?
  • Do you know a child today who likes The Secret Seven and The Famous Five? (I own one, LOL, who wants the entire Secret Seven series for her 7th birthday!)
  • Do you think Enid Blyton's work lacks "literary value"? Compared to, say, the works of J.K. Rowling?

Now read the excerpt:

*** Popular children's author Enid Blyton was banned from the BBC for nearly 30 years because officials thought her work "lacked literary value", letters from the broadcaster's archives showed.

BBC executives turned down the chance to broadcast the plays and books of the creator of Noddy, the Famous Five and the Secret Seven because they were "such small beer" and had been produced by a "second rater".

In an internal memo dated 1938, Jean Sutcliffe, head of the BBC Schools department, dismissed the work of the woman who went on to become one of the best-selling authors of her era.

"My impression of her stories is that they might do for Children's Hour but certainly not for Schools Dept. They haven't much literary value," she wrote but conceded they were "competently written".

Two years later, the daily radio programme "Children's Hour" rejected Blyton's play "The Monkey and the Barrel Organ" because producers found its dialogue "both stilted and long winded".

One team member wrote: "It really is odd to think that this woman is a best-seller."

The released letters show Blyton realised she had been blacklisted.

After being invited to speak on a children's programme in May 1949, Blyton replied to the producer: "I and my stories are completely banned by the BBC as far as children are concerned -- not one story has ever been broadcast, and, so it is said, not one ever will be."

In 1954, Sutcliffe explained that Blyton should not appear on the popular "Woman's Hour" programme because the BBC risked becoming "just another victim of the amazing advertising campaign which has raised this competent and tenacious second-rater to such astronomical heights of success."

Blyton finally appeared on "Woman's Hour" in 1963, almost three decades after she first pitched ideas to the BBC.

She died in 1968 at the age of 71, but her books remain best-sellers today.***

Yvonne again: I wonder whether Ms Blyton ever felt like a success, despite all the books he'd written and sold....

2 comments:

LK Hunsaker said...

Just goes to show we can't listen to critics. But how sad is that? To blacklist an author because of their personal opinions?

Honestly, I don't think J.K. Rowling has a heck of a lot of "literary merit" but she has a heck of a lot of kids reading. That's more important. What good is high literary merit if no one wants to read it? I loved the Hardy Boys as a kid but they likely don't have much literary merit, either.

Sad. I've never heard of Blyton's books. Sounds like I should have.

Yvonne Eve Walus said...

Enid Blyton is an English author, so I'm guessing she's not that well known in the Sates, but "down-under" and in South Africa, she's a staple diet for children 5+.