Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
'Racism' row over Enid Blyton festival plan
ARCHITECT Anthony Mealing has questioned whether Beaconsfield should be celebrating its Enid Blyton connections – arguing some of the author’s work was ‘racist and offensive’.
Mr Mealing, of Totteridge Road, High Wycombe has urged Beaconsfield residents to “research their subject as they might find things they did not expect”.
He points to an example from a 1952 picture book called Mary Mouse and her Bicycle, which features a robber called ‘Mr Black Samba’ who steals a money box and bicycle.
However, former librarian Kari Dorme says Blyton’s original works should be accepted for the time in which they were written - saying the stories have now been brought into line with modern attitudes.
Concerns were first raised about Blyton's works in the 1960s, when a publisher questioned her ‘old-fashioned xenophobia’ in explaining the motives of thieves simply by the fact they were foreign.
Misgivings around her portrayal of gender and race grew in the 1980s and mischief-making golliwogs who stole Noddy's car were gradually erased.
Kari, who is busy organising an Enid Blyton festival this summer with the Beaconsfield Society, added: “In the early 1990’s some of her publishers made certain text changes – mostly to bring her stories into line with modern thought and sensitivities, particularly with regard to what some construed as snobbish, racist or sexists attitudes.
“Even names were modernised. You have to accept them in the time in which they were written, which was at least 60 years ago.
“Her books still sell at the rate of six to seven million copies a year, in more than 40 languages. Enid Blyton is a marvellous story teller, a real page turner. I feel that recognition should be given to the great contribution that she has made to children’s literacy.”
Blyton, who died in 1968 aged 71, lived much of her adult life in Beaconsfield, in a huge house called Green Hedges which was demolished in the 1970s. The area is now named Blyton Close.
The festival will take place from June 29 - July 7. For details see: www.beaconsfieldsociety.org.uk