Saturday 16 June 2012

Some Enid Blyton Firsts

I was never a Famous Five fan, they passed me by. I don't recall ever even seeing the TV version of the books which was on ITV when I was a kid (in which Gary Russell, these days better known as an eminence grise in the world of Doctor Who, gave us his Dick, as it were).

I did read and enjoy the Secret Seven books, but the best of all was the Adventure series, in which Philip, Jack, Dinah, Lucy-Ann and Jack's pet parrot Kiki got caught up in, well, Adventures. I remember nothing of the plots now, other than they were a bit more outré and far-flung than the Seven, and were terribly exciting, in a way which no doubt would hold zero interest to today's youth, staring into their i-boxes and x-phones all day.

So when I got the chance to acquire a bunch of first edition, first printings of 5 of the 8 ...of Adventure books, I did so with alacrity. But now's the time to pass them on, so up on eBay they go as a job lot, at a starting price which I certainly hope will find some takers...

They're without dustjackets of course (that starting price would have a couple of zeroes on it if they had 'em), but I notice a fellow eBayer has a nice line in facsimile Blyton djs for the budget conscious collector.

The artist, of the dustjackets, boards, and the rather atmospheric interior illustrations (which lasted through many, many reprints of the books), was Stuart Tresilian. According to this informative post at the always interesting Bear Alley, he was evidently a prolific illustrator in the 30s, 40s and 50s, though I'm also fascinated by the fact that the Imperial War Museum apparently holds drawings he made while he was a POW of the Germans in the Great War. Alas, though they come up when you search for his name on their website, there are no visuals.

As for Enid Blyton, the revisionist picture of her these days is not too flattering. How about this for a quote, from her own daughter, Imogen:

"The truth is Enid Blyton was arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult I pitied her."

Still, anybody who wrote a book called Well, Really, Mr. Twiddle! can't be all bad...

1 comment:

  1. The Adventure books are great, but for my money the best Blytons are the Magic Faraway Tree novels, which are very strange, quite scary, and evidently written by someone under the influence of serious amounts of hallucinogenics. Er, or not, as the case more than certainly was.