Enid Mary Blyton was born on 11th August 1897 in East Dulwich, South London and spent her childhood in Beckenham, Kent, with her two younger brothers, Hanly and Carey. Enid’s father, Thomas, to whom she was very close, was a clothing wholesaler. Her mother, Theresa, devoted her time to housework, expecting her daughter to contribute to household chores.

Enid Blyton was a bright, popular and sporty girl, and was appointed Head Girl in her final two years at St. Christopher’s School for Girls in Beckenham. Outside of school life, Enid created a magazine called Dab with two friends, for which Enid wrote short stories.

In 1910, Enid’s father Thomas left Theresa to live with another woman, a scandal that Theresa forced the children to cover up. Now at the mercy of her mother, Enid escaped to her bedroom, writing compulsively.

Enid Blyton’s first full-length novel, The Enid Blyton Book of Bunnies, was published in 1925. The following year Enid began writing and editing a magazine, which went onto become the popular weekly magazine, Sunny Stories.

In 1929 Enid and Hugh moved to Buckinghamshire where their two daughters, Gillian and Imogen, were born. In 1938, Enid moved the family to Green Hedges in Beaconsfield. Now a full-time writer, Enid relied increasingly on domestic staff while Hugh suffered from depression, turning to alcohol for consolation.

Enid continued writing during the war years and Hugh rejoined his old regiment in Surrey. They divorced in 1942, and in 1943 Enid remarried surgeon Kenneth Waters. In the 1950s, Kenneth and Enid bought Manor Farm in Dorset, which was to provide the inspiration for many of Blyton’s works.

In September 1916, Enid turned down her place at the Guildhall School of Music and enrolled herself on a Froebel-based teacher-training course at Ipswich High School. She completed her teacher training in December 1918, and went on to teach at a boys’ preparatory school in Kent before becoming a governess to four brothers in Surbiton, Surrey.

By now, Enid had broken ties completely with her mother and learned of her father’s death in 1920.

In the early 1920s, began to achieve success with her writing – her first book, Child Whispers, a slim volume of poetry was published in 1922.  Through the 1920s and 1930s, more of Enid’s books were published, including a number of educational books.

In 1924 Enid married Hugh Pollock, an editor at the publishing firm George Newnes, which had commissioned Enid to write a children’s book about London Zoo—The Zoo Book (1924). They lived in London before moving to Elfin Cottage in Beckenham, in 1926. Hugh persuaded Enid to switch from longhand to a typewriter and was instrumental in helping his wife establish herself as a writer and a businesswoman.

Altogether, Enid Blyton is believed to have written around 700 books (including collections of short stories) as well as magazines, articles and poems. In 1950 she set up her own limited company, Darrell Waters Ltd., to manage the fortune she was amassing.

It was in the late 1950s that Enid Blyton’s health began to deteriorate. By the early 1960s it was apparent that she was suffering from dementia. Kenneth was ill too, with severe arthritis. He died on 15th September 1967 and in 1968, Enid was admitted to a Hampstead nursing home where she died three months later aged 71.

Enid Blyton remains one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors. Sales of her books are in excess of 500 million copies, and they have been translated into over 40 languages. In the UK she still sells more than one book a minute and many of her books have been adapted into films and TV series. As well as being regularly voted the UK’s best-loved author, according to UNESCO, Enid Blyton is the most translated children’s author in the world.

TIMELINE

timeline 1897-1902

1897-1902

1897

On 11 August, Enid Mary Blyton is born at 354 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London. The family moves to a semi- detached villa at 95 Chaffinch Road, Beckenham, Kent.

1899

Enid’s brother Hanly is born on 11 May.

1902

Another move to 35 Clock House Road, Beckenham. Enid’s brother Carey is born.

timeline 1907-1911

1907 – 1911

1907

Enid starts at St Christopher’s School for Girls, Beckenham. The family moves again, just a couple of doors down, to 31 Clock House Road, Beckenham.

Did you know?

In 1951, the Famous Five card game was launched by Pepys. Two decades later, it was redesigned so the characters looked like the children in the TV series.

1911

Enid enters Arthur Mee’s children’s poetry competition and is thrilled to have her verses published. Plus, Arthur Mee asks to see more of her work!

timeline 1912-1917

1912-1917

1912

The Blyton family moves to 14 Elm Road, Beckenham.

1916

Enid decides to become a teacher and goes to Ipswich High School to train. She starts work at Bickley Park School in 1919.

1917

In March Nash’s Magazine publish her poems.

timeline 1920 – 1923

1920 – 1923

1920

Moves to Southernhay, Surbiton, to work as a nursery governess.

1922

Enid’s first book Child Whispers is published. Enid also contributes to Teachers’ World.

1923

Meets Major Hugh Pollock, an editor at her publishers. Earns more than £300 from her writing – the price of a small suburban house.

timeline 1924 -1925

1924 – 1925

1924

Enid writes a book for Hugh, they fall in love and marry on 28 August. They move to Chelsea, London.

Did you know?

Enid was so prolific that some people thought she couldn’t possibly have written all the books herself. In 1955, she had to take legal proceedings to stop these rumours.

1925

Annual earnings reach £1,095.10s.2d – equivalent to an executive’s salary!

timeline 1926 – 1927

1926 – 1927

1926

Enid and Hugh move to Elfin Cottage, a house in Shortlands Road, Beckenham. She purchases ‘Bobs’ a black and white smooth-haired fox terrier. Sunny Stories for Little Folks, edited and written by Enid Blyton, is published.

1927

Purchases her first typewriter and forces herself to learn how to use it and also learns to drive.

timeline 1929 – 1933

1929 – 1933

1929

Family moves to Old Thatch in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire.

1931

Enid’s first daughter, Gillian Mary, is born on 15 July.

1933

Enid is a bestseller! Letters from Bobs, ‘written’ by her dog Bobs, sells 10,000 copies in its first week!

timeline 1935 – 1938

1935 – 1938

1935

On 27 October, Enid gives birth to Imogen Mary, her second child.

1937

The Adventures of the Wishing Chair is published. Like many of Enid’s stories, it first appeared in Sunny Stories.

1938

Enid, Hugh and daughters move to ‘Green Hedges’ in Buckinghamshire. Her first full-length novel for children, The Secret Island, is published, and so is The Enchanted Wood.

timeline 1940 – 1941

1926 – 1927

1940

The Naughtiest Girl in the School is published.

1941

Eight Blyton books are released, including The Adventurous Four, and The Twins at St Clare’s. A year later, 22 books are published.

timeline 1942 – 1944

1942 – 1944

1942

Five On a Treasure Island, the first book about the Famous Five, is published, illustrated by Eileen Soper.
Enid’s marriage to Hugh ends in divorce, and the following October, she marries Kenneth Darrell Waters.

1943

Despite paper shortages caused by the Second World War, 23 of Enid’s books appear, including The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage, the first of the Mystery Stories.

1944

Twenty-four Blyton books are published, including The Island of Adventure.

timeline 1946 – 1950

1946 – 1950

1946

First Term at Malory Towers is published.

1949

Another busy Blyton year, with 32 books out, including the first of the Barney Mysteries. Noddy appears in the Sunday Graphic, and in November Noddy Goes to Toyland is published. The first of The Secret Seven series is published.

1950

Enid forms her own company, Darrell Waters Limited, which controls the copyrights for all her work.

timeline 1952 – 1953

1952 – 1953

Did you know?

‘Green Hedges’ was the name selected by Enid from a competition she held to name her new house..

1952

Enid has 44 titles published, and forms the Famous Five Club. The Story of My Life, Enid’s autobiography for children, is released.

1953

Enid stops writing for Sunny Stories to concentrate on Enid Blyton’s Magazine. The pantomime Noddy in Toyland, is performed. It took Enid only two weeks to write! The Famous Five play is produced for the Prince’s Theatre, London.

timeline 1956 – 1962

1956 – 1962

1956

Enid’s makes her first appearance in TV Comic with Noddy and Bom. She buys Manor Farm at Stourton Caundle.

1957

The film of Five On a Treasure Island is serialised. Sadly, Enid’s health begins to decline.

1962

Armada Books launch a paperback list featuring Blyton titles – so even more children have access to her books.

timeline 1963 -1965

1963 – 1965

1963

The last book for each of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series are published.

1964

The last book for each of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series are published.

1965

The last full-length Blyton books are published – The Man Who Stopped to Help and The Boy Who Came Back.

timeline 1967 – 1968

1967 – 1968

1967

On 15 September, Enid writes in her diary: ‘My darling Kenneth died. I loved him so much. I feel lost and unhappy.’

1968

Enid dies peacefully in her sleep in a nursing home in Hampstead, London on 28 November.

GALLERY