HER children's books are among the world's best-selling, but the outdated language featuring in Enid Blyton’s work has again been branded racist in a row that refuses to dissipate.


The Famous Five?

And The Secret Seven adventures are among are best-known Blyton books, along with Noddy and Malory Towers. The author, born in 1897 in London, was a full-time writer from the age of 24, penning more than 700 books which have sold more than 600 million copies and still continue to sell about eight million copies a year.


Blyton has been accused of being racist for decades?

An article in the Guardian back in 1966 first raised the issue, noting the stories of the then recently published, The Little Black Doll, which told the tale of a doll called Sambo who was only loved by its owner when its 'ugly black face' was washed 'clean' by rain.



The Noddy books featured the little wooden toy and his friends who lived in Toyland, including Big Ears the gnome and others including ‘Golliwogs’, rag dolls depicted with highly offensive representations of black people at the time. These characters were later removed from new editions.


In recent years?

In 2016, a commemorative 50p Blyton coin was rejected by the Royal Mint because, the advisory committee minutes record, she was ‘a racist, sexist, homophobe and not a very well-regarded writer’.


What’s happening now?

Earlier this month, English Heritage said there were "no plans whatsoever" to remove a blue plaque in situ at her former home in London, stating that she lived there in the early 1920s.



The organisation added: “We can fit about 19 words on each plaque. Our website provides a fuller picture of the person's life, including any uncomfortable aspects.” And so, the information page on the website has been updated to reflect wider opinion. In a section ‘Racism in Blyton’s Work,’ it states: “Blyton’s work has been criticised during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit.”


It does also present another side?

It points out that “Others have argued that while these charges can’t be dismissed, her work still played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read.”


In response?

Piers Morgan tweeted “…leave Enid Blyton alone you woke w******.” And comedian and author David Baddiel tweeted: “Re Enid Blyton - racism, yes, xenophobia, yes, but ‘lack of literary merit’ about books that have sold 600 million copies just sounds weirdly snooty.”


In the latest developments?

Andi Oliver, a judge on BBC2's Great British Menu whose family hails from Antigua, has spoken about her "humiliating" experiences reading Blyton in school. Re-igniting debate, she tweeted: “Golliwog or n***** is a humiliating painful experience, that made me scared of playtime because the words we were reading inspired the bullies and it did yes shape how I felt about myself. I liked the famous five too but it doesn’t mean the woman’s writing didn’t scar me.”