On this day in history : 11th August 1897 – The birth in East Dulwich, South London of much-loved, best-selling children’s writer Enid Blyton….
Enid Mary Blyton was the eldest of three children, having two younger brothers…. It was shortly after the family moved to Beckenham, which was then still a village in Kent, that Enid caught whooping cough and nearly died…. She was nursed back to health by her father, Thomas Carey Blyton….
Enid adored her father, the pair were very close…. It was he who got her interested in nature, being passionate about wildlife himself…. He would take her on long nature walks and also shared with her his love of gardening, art, literature and theatre…. This was all much to her mother’s disapproval, with whom she did not share the same loving relationship…. Enid was devastated when her father left the family to live with another woman; she was only 13 at the time…. When her parents eventually died Enid did not go to either funeral….
Between 1907 and 1915 Enid attended St. Christopher’s School in Beckenham…. She was particularly good at sport, was a tennis champion and captain of the lacrosse team…. She was not a keen academic scholar but had a natural gift for writing…. She finished school as head girl….and upon finishing her education she moved out of the family home and went to live with a friend…. Not long after she moved to Suffolk, to Seckford Hall near to Woodbridge…. She trained as a teacher and in January 1919 secured a teaching position at Bickley Park, a school for boys in Kent…. In 1920 she moved to Surbiton in Surrey as a governess to the four sons of architect Horace Thompson…. Soon other children joined them; there was a lack of local schools in the area and before long the house, Southernhay, in Hook Road, housed a little school in its own right…. These were very happy days for Enid….
Enid began writing in her free time; after winning a writing competition it didn’t take long for poplar publications to begin taking an interest in her poems and short stories…. Her first book, ‘Child Whispers’, was published in 1922 and in 1923 she had poems published alongside Rudyard Kipling, Walter de la Mare and G.K. Chesterton….which increased her popularity….
The 1930s saw her develop an interest in writing about myths and legends…. The first of her 28 book ‘Old Thatch‘ series was published in 1934 and ‘The Enchanted Wood’, the first in ‘The Faraway Tree’ series came in 1939…. By the 1940s she was a prolific author and went on to bring us ‘The Famous Five’, ‘The Secret Seven’ and of course ‘Noddy’….who first appeared in the Sunday Graphic on the 5th of June 1949….
Enid married Major Hugh Alexander Pollack on the 28th of August 1924 and the couple had two daughters, Gillian and Imogen…. However, the marriage became troubled and ended in divorce…. She then married London surgeon Darrell Walters, with whom she had been having a long-term affair, on the 20th of October 1943…. She suffered a miscarriage after a fall – but for Enid and Darrell there were to be no children….
In 1957 Enid’s health began to decline and by 1960 she was showing the first signs of dementia…. Her husband died in 1967 and Enid herself passed away the following year, on the 28th of November, in Hampstead, London….