So I went to the Enid Blyton talk on Tuesday, with a friend. To be honest, I wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been for Enid Blyton's strong local connections. Viv is a real Blyton enthusiast who's been collecting her books since reading Mr Galliano's Circus as a child. Now, she knows all Blyton's Dorset locations, has opened the Ginger Pop shop in Corfe Castle village and has a new venture, Eileen Soper’s Illustrated Worlds down on Poole Quay.
There was no need for Viv to say a great deal about Blyton's life as it turned out everyone there had watched the BBC4 programme (and everyone had an opinion). Things I learned: the Mary Mouse strip books were written in the 1940s to make use of publishers' offcuts which would otherwise have been wasted at a time of paper shortages; Blyton's nature knowledge was so good that she became associated with the Warne 'Wayside and Woodland' series.
For a book collector, the slides of cover designs were slightly disappointing. I'm not a Blyton collector, probably only have about a dozen of her books to Viv's hundreds but I do have a full set of original Malory Towers hardbacks with the weird but so distinctive ilustrations by Stanley Lloyd. Only one of mine has a dustwrapper, alas, but I don't think I could enjoy the books in any other format. Unfortunately, these original books are now very expensive, in spite of the large number of reprints.
I'm certainly planning a trip to the Eileen Soper gallery next summer when it's open again. For people who can't wait, the web is simply heaving with Blyton information! I was hoping to post a picture I love, which shows Enid Blyton with Richmal Crompton and Malcolm Saville at a theatre. It's printed in Barbara Stoney's biography, which I no longer have. While searching in vain I found this fun Children’s Literature Quiz. Have a go!