Friday, 25 November 2011

A Postcard From Enid Blyton by Roger Thiedeman


Born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1949, I acquired a passion for reading at a very young age. Dominating my early reading were the works of Enid Blyton, starting with Mary Mouse strip books, then, inevitably, the ubiquitous Noddy titles, as well as Blyton’s retold Bible stories and tales of Galliano’s Circus. Later, the Wishing-Chair and Faraway Tree books became firm favourites, as did the Five Find-Outers Mystery series.

During the school holidays in 1958, along with my younger brother, cousins, and a few neighbourhood playmates, I staged a Noddy play for the benefit of our parents and neighbours. I was playwright, casting director, producer, stage designer, and, of course, principal actor. My mother went to a lot of trouble to make me an authentic Noddy costume, even borrowing the bell from our cat’s collar to fix atop my pointy blue hat.

From all accounts, the play was a roaring success – well, as much of a success as a kids’ play that uses a bedroom for a stage can be! So much so that I decided to write to Enid Blyton and tell her all about it.

To my utter delight, I received in reply a post card purportedly from Enid Blyton, images of which are seen here. For many years afterward I revelled in the belief that not only was the card typed out by Blyton herself, but that the undisputed queen of children’s literature (J.K. who?!) had signed the card too. The slight smudging of the ink convinced me that this was an actual signature by Enid Blyton’s own hand, not a printed-on or rubber-stamped facsimile.


Much more recently, however, the custodian of The Enid Blyton Society website, and various Blyton biographies, disabused me of that notion. I learned, to my disappointment, that at the peak of her popularity, Enid Blyton rarely, if ever, wrote personal replies to the mountains of letters she received from all over the world. Instead, she delegated that monumental task – along with signing of letters and cards on her behalf – to her secretaries, including one or both of her daughters.

Although initially deflated by those revelations, I have since come to terms with it. Taking a positive view, I continue to treasure that post card as a tangible link with at least some component of the Enid Blyton ‘empire’.

Roger Thiedeman
Melbourne, Australia.


Roger shared this lovely memory during an email ‘conversation’ about childhood books. When I suggested it would make a really nice piece for this blog Roger not only agreed but also supplied the photographs. Thank you Roger, I appreciate it and if you ever feel like contributing anything else I would be delighted.

If anyone else would like to share a book related memory I would love to hear from you.

Update 25th June, 2013.
I would like to thank Freda Knight for allowing me to publish this email;

As an avid 'Enid Blyton fan' born in 1952, I was interested - when googling "Postcards signed by Enid Blyton" to come across Roger's very touching and interesting article posted on your website.  As a book collector and member of the Enid Blyton Society, I related to Roger's passion for Enid Blyton's wonderful books and, also, to his disappointment in later years regarding the veracity of the postcard he received from her in reply to his letter.  However, no one can be absolutely sure that she didn't personally reply to Roger's letter.  I am inclined to believe that Enid Blyton replied personally in this instance.  Thank you for posting such an interesting article on your website. Kind regards, Freda.

A further update 3rd July, 2013.
Having asked Freda’s permission to publish her previous email she sent a further update. Thank you Freda, I always enjoy hearing from readers of this blog. If anyone else would like to comment or email, please feel free to do so. Barbara

For your information, Barbara, and by way of update - since my e-mail to yourself, I posted a similar response on the Enid Blyton Society message board (referring to Roger's article) (I am a fairly new member), asking whether it really was the case that other people responded to Enid's mail, as naively I believed that despite the logistical problems involved she somehow managed to answer all her own mail.  Apparently, however, staff at the Enid Blyton Magazine routinely answered mail that was sent direct to their office (in order not to overburden Enid), and Gillian Baverstock (Enid's daughter) who worked at the Enid Blyton Magazine office at that time responded to letters in Enid's name.  I would imagine that letters sent to the 'Green Hedges' address would be answered by Enid herself.  I would still like to think that Enid saw Roger's initial letter as the story was so charming.
Kindest regards, Freda 


8 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this person! I find out the most interesting things on your site!

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  2. barbaraannefisher25 November 2011 at 19:05

    That’s great and likewise me on yours!

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  3. I am of the view that Enid Blyton replied personally to her fan mail personally, most of the time.
    Stephen Isabirye, author of a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).

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  4. I have never heard of this author- though now I am intrigued! I can understand why Roger thought the postcard was sent from his favorite author- it is so personalized with the sentence about the play. Even though he found out later that she didn't write it, I think the postcard meant a lot to him while he was growing up and probably inspired him. So often it is obvious that an author is not responding to a fan- which makes me give credit to the author for at least delegating a personal response to letters (although not from her). Great story!

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdamorrow.blogspot.com

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  5. I found the biopic of Enid Blyton starring Helena Bonham Carter an interesting if sometimes uncomfortable glimpse into her life. It certainly gave the impression that her young readership were very important to her (much more so than her poor daughters) and that especially early on she would have read and responded to everything.

    That is a lovely memory and wonderful of Roger to share it after all this time.

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  6. barbaraannefisher27 November 2011 at 15:30

    Thank you Stephen I will take a look at your site and pass the information on to Roger.

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  7. barbaraannefisher27 November 2011 at 15:39

    Hello Jess,
    I grew up reading books by Enid Blyton so always assume everyone else read them too but of course that is not the case. The adventures of the Secret Seven and the Famous Five were really exciting for a child – full of secret passages, tunnels, and other thrilling things.
    It is a great story and lovely of Roger to share.

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  8. barbaraannefisher27 November 2011 at 15:44

    I read a lot about the Enid Blyton biopic and then somehow managed to miss it, so I must try to catch it if/when it is repeated.
    I’m glad you enjoyed Roger’s memories.
    Thanks for calling in.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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