I should say upfront, before I start ranting a bit, that I was brought up on Enid Blyton. Apart from my beloved “Pookie” books, the earliest stories I can remember are Enid. As soon as I had any kind of pocket-money, it would be spent weekly on a new book – a Malory Towers or an Adventure series paperback, usually Armada or Piccolo, for something like 2/6- (that’s two shillings and six pence – about 25p on modern parlance!) I loved them to bits, and I kept my collection of battered copies with me for many years. They were pure escapism – children having exciting adventures, discovering secret places and plots, or attending boarding schools and having fun and jolly japes while learning to be all-round good people. Eventually, I let the books go – my own children weren’t interested in reading them, and I figured there was no longer a place in my life for them.

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However, I confess for having had quite a hankering for them recently, and a look at OH’s very old hardback copies had me wallowing in nostalgia. So I *was* rather excited (as I reported here) to be gifted with a lovely set of reprints of the Adventure series at Christmas time. I re-read “The Island of Adventure” and was transported back to childhood. And yet – as I thought about the book afterwards, something seemed not quite right…

I’d been thinking about the Malory Towers books, and I description I read online of some old books for sale stated that this was the original text, no longer available in current editions. Did this mean my Adventure books weren’t the original text too? I decided to investigate. The books themselves said nothing about text changes, but some digging about on the Enid Blyton society forums revealed the truth – the books have been updated and modernised and rewritten many times over the years.

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Not “original” at all – actually rewritten….

I have to confess I was infuriated. I *can* understand the reason for some of the changes, where there are racial stereotypes. But why on earth modernist? Change shillings for modern pence? Take out the lovely old-fashioned expressions? When I read the Blyton stories in the late 1960s/early 1970s they were already out of date and that was a good part of their charm. Girls I knew didn’t go off to boarding schools, play lacrosse and have midnight feasts – but I didn’t want to read about the things I knew, I wanted something different. And I agree with so many of the comments on the forums – particularly those that point out that we don’t update classic children’s books like “The Railway Children” and “The Secret Garden”, so why on earth should we rewrite Enid Blyton.

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Battered old 1970s edition, but with all the text and pictures!

Even more infuriatingly, it seems that the paperback editions I read and used to own are the last ones to use the original text (and in the case of the Adventure books the wonderful original illustrations). Hindsight is a terrible thing – I *so* should have kept them. I haven’t the heart to break it to OH that the editions he got me are not the original Enid; instead, I have decided to quietly re-collect the editions of my favourites, the ones I originally have. Fortunately, worn 1970s paperbacks don’t seem to be that collectible or expensive, so I should be able to get hold of the copies I lost. As for whoever owns the rights to Enid Blyton’s work – you should be ashamed of yourselves…..

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