Enid Blyton and golliwogs

Amaya Booker amaya at whatever.net.au
Sun Sep 10 10:07:58 EDT 2000


As a kid I used to chew through Enid Blyton books by the dozen. My mother
still has a bookshelf full of the little hardback library style editions I
used to collect by the bucketload.

I think the problem with Enid Blyton is that they don't have as much of the
"universal appeal" of say DWJ or Harry Potter in that they tend to be
enjoyed much more by children than they are by adults. They're very much
aimed at child like fantasies, worlds filled with treacle tart and
adventures where the children save the day. They also have a very noticeable
formula, I mean what was the real difference between say The Wishing Chair
stories and the Faraway Tree stories? Not much in my opinion. Mind you at 7
I thought they were the best things on Earth.

In terms of racist undertones I never noticed them as a child but then I
came from a very accepting background and was shocked as a child at primary
(elementary) school to find that such concepts as racism and gay hate
existed, the thought had never occurred to me prior to this. But growing up
I owned a golliwog doll and used to eat golliwog biscuits (which are now
shaped like teddy bears much to my dismay), they were never made known to me
as race stereotypes as they are now and they were simply another toy, just
another representation. I'm more inclined to be worried about the sort of
ideals represented in the shape of a Barbie doll than I am in that of a
golliwog.

Intriguingly the one golliwog icon that still exists is for Robertson's
Fruit Mince. I don't know where else in the world this is available but in
Australia you can buy pre-made fruit mince in jars for Christmas, and
Robertson's have a golliwog as their company icon. I used to insist on
buying this every so often so that I could save up the labels and send in
for my free golliwog badge. There were fireman golliwogs and policeman
golliwog badges, rather a collector's item now I'm told,  but you can still
send in for the basic golliwog badge from their company.

It's a pity that in one clean sweep of PCness they managed to claim one of
my favourite toys as offensive


I'd happily recommend Enid Blyton to most children under 10, if nothing else
they convinced the children who were less inclined towards reading to swap
books and really get their noses into fiction. Children are innocent,
they're only going to see nasty undertones if you tell them to look for
them. As long as you're prepared to explain the attitudes of the time the
books were written if they ask questions I don't see there's any harm in
Blyton books.

Well... except it might harm the budget ... there's a lot of them out there.
I think I owned something like 8 of the Nursery Stories books alone let
alone the Wishing Chair, Faraway Tree, Naughtiest Girl books but to name a
few of her series' I owned. You can generally find shelves and shelves of
them in second hand bookstores selling anywhere from 50c to $2 Australian,
but to buy them new is awfully expensive now.

Amaya

-------
There's no justice.

There's just us.

amaya at whatever.net.au
http://www.whatever.net.au/~amaya/
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