Enid Blyton Controversy: A Discussion

Hi everyone,

In light of all the controversy surrounding Enid Blyton and her being commemorated on a coin, I thought I would write a blogpost about my thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding this.

I really wasn’t sure whether to write a post like this, owing to it being so controversial. However, I figured that I couldn’t continue to post and write about Enid Blyton without addressing everything.

Let me know your opinions in the comments! I’d love to hear them.

This week, it was announced that Enid Blyton has been rejected from being commemorated on a 50p coin by The Royal Mint committee because of her racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

Blyton wrote over 600 books and the coin was going to mark the 50th anniversary of her death.

I absolutely loved Enid Blyton books as a child, I still own her books now and I still feel like I could get lost in the many worlds that she created. Reading The Twins at St. Clares, Malory Towers, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Magic Faraway Tree as a child, I never realised that they could have been construed as racist, sexist and homophobic. In retrospect and reading her books as an adult, I can see the darker side to them.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed her books, I would have to agree with The Royal Mint’s decision to not commemorate her on a coin. However, that does not mean that she can’t be celebrated as a writer and we can’t continue to read her work. As a lot of people do with most artists that turn out to be not that nice. Roald Dahl, Walt Disney, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss… are just a few authors who have been outed as having controversial opinions, racicst, anti-semitic and sexist viewpoints. And let’s not forget the countless other musicians, actors, directors, historical figures, cereal manufacturers (*cough* John Kellogg) and artists that have also been outed. Yet people still listen to their music, celebrate their military achievements, eat their cereal….under the guise of being able to “separate the art from the artist”. But can this line be crossed? Are there certain things that people can do that make it impossible to separate the two? I think it’s up to you and your viewpoint as to whether you “cancel” these people or continue to enjoy their work. Perhaps at a slightly further distance than before…

A common reaction to finding out that your childhood heroes may have been the exact opposite of that – problematic, unforgiving and unacceptable – is to say “they were a product of their time” and “you can’t compare them by today’s standards”.

I disagree – racism, sexism and homophobia were still unacceptable in those times. However, the tendency to “cancel” historical figures who do not measure with today’s standards is not a great idea. As mentioned above, there are many, MANY people who would fail this test.

Celebrating or reading Enid Blyton’s books does not equate to endorsing what she wrote. Just as listening to Michael Jackson’s music does not equate to endorsing what he did (though I won’t go into this – we’ve had far too much controversy for a Sunday).

In summary, I think that Blyton’s books should continue to be read and celebrated AS LONG AS we also read, celebrate and advertise books from a diverse range of authors that promote acceptance and equality. Any book that gets children reading and using their imagination should not be cancelled.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading!

Love, Zoë xx

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