Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts, the first ever major exhibition celebrating the life and work of Enid Blyton, created by Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books, visits Scarborough Art Gallery this spring.
Many items from the Seven Stories and Enid Blyton Society collections will be on show such as original hand-corrected typescripts including Five have Plenty of Fun (1954), Last Term at Malory Towers (1951), Look Out, Secret Seven (1962) and Cheer Up, Little Noddy (1960); pages from the unpublished typescript for Mr Tumpy’s Caravan; Blyton’s personal and nature diaries spanning the 1920s, 30s and 60s; personal family photographs including Blyton as a child; her famous typewriter.
Many of the exhibits are on public display for the first time. Seven Stories fundraised to buy a large collection of Blyton typescripts and rare artefacts when they were auctioned in 2010, fulfilling its mission to save and protect Britain’s literary heritage for children.
At the height of her 40-year career, between 1951 and 1954, she produced 192 books – an average of one a week. Blyton’s books, which were often serialised, captivated children in the same way that Harry Potter has in recent times. Enid, always keen to speak directly to her young readers, responded to this adoration by setting up the Famous Five Club and the Enid Blyton magazine.
Kate Edwards, Chief Executive of Seven Stories, says: “It’s impossible to celebrate Britain’s literary heritage for children without including our most successful author, Enid Blyton. She was a prolific writer with a lively imagination and a remarkable gift for connecting with children. She was a master of plot, pace, suspense and the moral tale.
“Though Enid and her books have often been surrounded by controversy, her work should be viewed in the context of its time – the early and mid 20th century – when British society was very different to today. There is no doubt that she was a complex person – a keen naturalist, progressive teacher, working parent and canny businesswoman. Her work has endured, constantly re-interpreted through its decades in print and enthralling generation after generation of children.”
Enid Blyton (1897-1968) was the best-selling English language author of the 20th century, and remains one of the most popular writers of all time. In polls of favourite childhood reading, she continues to be ranked in the top five authors, often above Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. Her first book was published in 1922 and her work has been in print ever since. In a career that spanned five decades, she wrote an astonishing 700-plus books and some 4,500 short stories. Despite this huge output, very few of Blyton’s original typescripts have survived and exhibitions to celebrate her achievements have been rare.
Blyton’s most remarkable achievement is that she has inspired millions of children throughout the world to read for pleasure. Like all Seven Stories exhibitions, Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts is designed to be playful, interactive and immersive, for young audiences to enjoy. Children are invited to throw themselves into the worlds of the Famous Five and Secret Seven, Malory Towers, the Magic Faraway Tree and Noddy’s Toyland.
The exhibition runs from March 27 to June 26.
To tie in with the exhibition we are running a feature on yur favourite Enid Blyton books. Send us your favourite to firstname.lastname@example.org