Books that have influenced me #1 – Enid Blyton

Early influences? Stories that seep into your consciousness so young, they shape your childhood and perhaps your life?

Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books.

These are the first books I remember reading independently – and I read them over and over and over again. I hated ‘lights out’ because it meant the end of my reading time. No way! I would sit up in bed, twitching my curtains open to read long past my bedtime by the light of the street lamp! (No wonder I wear glasses.)

Those stories fuelled my vivid imagination. I loved the way Enid Blyton created a whole world in the Enchanted Wood, and then the Magic Faraway Tree itself, populated by a host of recurring characters you came to know and love – Moonface, Silky, Saucepan Man. I was desperate to taste those pop biscuits and toffee shocks, and to take a long ride down the slippery slip.

And as if this lovely imaginary world wasn’t enough, there were whole new worlds every time the children ventured beyond the top of the tree. The land of goodies, the land of spells (my personal favourite) . . . Fabulous!

But why did these books  influence me so much?

They gave me a great deal of comfort. Whenever the real world seemed confusing or upsetting, all I had to do was lose myself in the worlds in those books, and I was transported away from my childhood troubles.

They allowed my imagination to take flight and they planted that tiny seed – the desire to be a writer when I grew up. (Yes, I know, it took an awful lot longer than that!) I wanted to be able to do what Enid Blyton did – to create my own worlds. Whenever I’d finished work ahead of time in class, the teacher would indulgently allow me to write stories. Then I got a special notebook at home and started writing stories in that, too. I still have it, although it’s a little battered now.

squirrel nut

I’m certainly not the only writer to have been influenced by Enid Blyton – I’ve read a lot of comments on social media and blogs recently along similar lines. If it wasn’t the Enchanted Wood books, then for some people it was the Famous Five. Enid Blyton obviously had an enormous influence, not only in bringing pleasure and a sense of adventurous freedom to children’s lives, but in inspiring some of those children to become writers themselves someday.

I still have those Magic Faraway Tree books somewhere. I read them to my daughter when she was little (subtly altering some of the now-rather-politically-incorrect names as I went along!) They are up in the attic. I’ve been on a very long hunt for them  so I could take a photo for this post – but if you saw the state of my attic, you’d understand why they haven’t as yet come to light!

Floor of attic

What matters is that I know they’re there, somewhere . . . and I would never part with them.


11 thoughts on “Books that have influenced me #1 – Enid Blyton

  1. Janni says:

    I was a fan of Enid Blyton stories too. Although I read her fairy stories with elves and pixies I can’t say they made a big impression. I much preferred the Secret Seven, the Famous Five and the Adventure books. I used to spend what seemed like ages in the library waiting for someone to return an Enid Blyton book that I hadn’t read! It was a while before I was willing to try other authors. I’ve read anything and everything since then.

    When I was older I realised just how far removed from my world her books were and although some things she wrote could be considered offensive nowadays they were of their time but if I came across one in the attic in a reasonable state – I would probably read it again!

    • Helen Pollard says:

      I think she wrote something to appeal to all tastes, Janni, didn’t she? I did read Famous Five a little, but we were never really an ‘outdoorsy’ family so perhaps that why I didn’t take to them as much 🙂 although I have read them with my kids since.

  2. kathleenbee says:

    You’re making me nostalgic! I loved the Magic Faraway Tree books. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of them for years. I also had the whole Secret Seven set and several Famous Fives. My daughter’s collecting the Famous Fives. I also loved Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables. But the writer who inspired me to become a writer the most was CS Lewis with his Narnia series.

    I love that you still have one of your first stories. It looks in great condition still.

    • Helen Pollard says:

      Aww, thanks, Kathy. My older brother laughed his socks off that I had the mother squirrel waking up one morning to the lovely surprise of finding her nest full of baby squirrels! But I was only maybe eight when I wrote it 😀

  3. Suze says:

    Such a beautiful post. Fortunately most of Enid Blyton’s books have been translated in Dutch. She was the one who made me fall in love with English stories. It’s wonderful that she inspired you to start writing.
    I have a room that looks just like your attic ;). Reading and writing is much more fun than tidying and going through boxes of stuff right?

  4. DenaRogers says:

    Great post, Helen! I’m not sure if they are the same books, but I read The Magic Tree House books to both my boys. We had the whole set and loved them. I ended up selling them to one of the teachers at school for her classroom and wish I hadn’t. Isn’t your attic where you write? I bet you have all sorts of treasures and goodies in there.

    • Helen Pollard says:

      Thanks, Dena 🙂 Sounds like it could be the same books, doesn’t it? Yes, I write in the attic, surrounded by piles of c**p that need sorting out – heaven knows what’s up here!

  5. gilliallan says:

    I never read them, but I did have an old hardback copy of the ‘The Wishing Chair’ . I absolutely adored it. I can even still recall the smell, and the feel of the pages.

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