The BBC have just uploaded a small collection of correspondence to and from author Enid Blyton and it makes for fascinating reading, providing more proof that Blyton, whilst adored by the millions of children who read her material, had a tougher time when it came to convincing adults that she was a writer of talent. Rather than reproduce one of those letters here, I thought I’d post this instead. Blyton wrote it in 1964 to then Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, in response to some derogatory remarks he made about her book Bob the Little Jockey. Blyton was clearly distraught at the thought of more negativity, and by the end of the letter seemed convinced that the PM had either suffered a slip of the tongue or bad-mouthed the wrong author.
Dear Sir Robert
I am having many disturbing letters from Australia, all of which inform me that you had told the press there of a “terrible book”, which, you say is written by me, about a little boy whose father was a jockey; and because on the day of the big race the father fell ill, the little boy rode in his place – according to some letters you even used the word “immoral” for this book – The letters are very indignant of course, as the writers all know my books very well, and know that not one of them is immoral or “terrible”. I would hardly have been one of the most popular children’s authors here or overseas if that had been so.
I think you must be mistaken in the author’s name – it could note be mine, because I would never write an immoral or terrible book for children. My name as a children’s writer stands high here, and it is an unjustified stain on my character, and has shocked a great many people here, especially those who hold my work in esteem. I am sure I could not now be one of the leading chidren’s writers, if your criticism were true – nor would my books be translated, as they are, into dozens of different languages!
I am certain it was a slip on your part, and I would be grateful if you would set aside this grave slur on my name as a writer – it could harm me and my books for children very much and I am sure you would not mean to do that? May I hear from you please? I have about 30 English publishers and almost 100 foreign ones, and should be very pleased if I could inform them that you had not accused me of writing “terrible books” or of being immoral, and that the racing book if disliked so much was certainly not one of mine!