Question Of The Day: Blyton’s Racism Line Rages On

His children’s books are some of the best-selling in the world, but the outdated language in Enid Blyton’s work has again been called racist in a row that refuses to dissipate.

The Famous Five?

And the adventures of The Secret Seven are among Blyton’s best-known books, along with Noddy and Malory Towers. The author, born 1897 in London, was a full-time writer from the age of 24, writing over 700 books which have sold over 600 million copies and continue to sell around eight million copies per year.

Blyton has been accused of being a racist for decades?

A Guardian article in 1966 first raised the issue, noting the stories of The Little Black Doll, then recently published, which told the story of a doll called Sambo who was only loved by its owner when her “ugly black face” was washed “clean” by the rain.

Wink ?

Noddy’s books featured the little wooden toy and his friends who lived in Toyland, including Big Ears the gnome and others including “Golliwogs,” rag dolls depicted with very offensive depictions of black people at the time. These characters were then removed from the new editions.

During the last years?

In 2016, a commemorative 50 pence Blyton coin was rejected by the Royal Mint because, according to the advisory committee’s minutes, she was “a racist, sexist, homophobic and not a highly regarded writer.”

What is happening now?

Earlier this month, English Heritage said there were “no plans” to remove a blue plaque in situ from her former home in London, claiming she was living there in the early 1920s.


The organization added, “We can put around 19 words on each plaque. Our website provides a more complete picture of the person’s life, including the uncomfortable aspects. Thus, the information page on the website has been updated to reflect a broader opinion. In a section “Racism in Blyton’s Work” it is written: “Blyton’s work was criticized during his lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit.

Does this also present another side?

He points out that “others have argued that while these accusations cannot be dismissed, his work has always played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read.”

In response?

Piers Morgan tweeted “… leave Enid Blyton alone, you woke up with ******.” And comedian and author David Baddiel tweeted: “Re Enid Blyton – racism, yes, xenophobia, yes, but the ‘lack of literary merit’ about books selling 600 million copies seems oddly arrogant.”

In the latest developments?

Andi Oliver, a BBC2 Great British Menu judge whose family is from Antigua, spoke of his “humiliating” experiences while reading Blyton at school. Restarting the debate, she tweeted: “Golliwog or n ***** is a painful and humiliating experience, which scared me to play because the words we read inspired bullies and it actually shaped what I felt for myself. I liked the famous five, too, but that doesn’t mean the woman’s handwriting didn’t scare me.

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