Enid Blyton beat-up – racist author cancelled decades ago


Right-wing social justice warriors now have their bloomers in a twist over the so-called ‘cancellation’ of racist English children’s author, Enid Blyton. To give credit where it’s due, the alt-right can find cancel culture anywhere. They seek it here — they seek it there —they seek it every fucking where.

Enid Blyton’s bigotry necessitated revisions to her books decades ago. Publishers also had to respond to parental concerns about violence and sexism.

The latest cancel culture beat-up focuses on an article on the English Heritage website. It acknowledges the ‘racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit’ in Blyton’s work. That aligns with the reason previously offered by the Royal Mint for rejecting a Blyton commemorative coin in 2016. The Mint then described the author as a ‘racist, sexist, homophobe and not very well-regarded writer’.

Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton was a top-selling children’s writer for decades. Social media comments zero in on English Heritage’s criticism of ‘the lack of literary merit’ in her work in light of over 600 million of her books selling worldwide.

However, popularity is no indication of literary merit. More than a billion copies of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book have been published since 1964. Five million Australians read The Aldi Catalogue every week. Regardless, the BBC first noted the lack of literary merit in the 1930s when it refused to dramatise Blyton’s books for radio.

Racism and xenophobia

Blyton was recognised as xenophobic even at the height of her fame. In 1960, the publisher Macmillan rejected her manuscript The Mystery That Never Was because of what we would now describe as ‘othering’.

An inhouse review noted “a faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia in the author’s attitude to the thieves; they are ‘foreign’ … and this seems to be regarded as sufficient to explain their criminality.”

Wrongdoers in the Blyton universe consistently had dark skin and a foreign accent. Indeed, there was nothing ‘faint’ about the racism Blyton instilled in children through her books. She habitually portrayed black golliwogs as villains. Her child heroes were invariably blonde.

One of Blyton’s most famous books, The Three Golliwogs featured three black dolls called Golly, Willy and Ni**er.

In Here Comes Noddy Again, evil golliwogs steal Noddy’s car, strip him naked and dump him in the woods. A reprint after Blyton’s death saw the story revised with Noddy keeping his clothes and only losing his shoes and hat.

In 1966, Blyton published a book titled The Little Black Doll. It told the story of Sambo, a black doll hated by its owner.

“I think you are ugly, Sambo,” she said, “I don’t like your black face.”

All the other toys said the same and Sambo was so sad that he ran away.

The hummingbird would not hum for him, and the clockwork mouse ran away because it was afraid of his black face.

But afterwards, ‘magic rain’ washes the pigment from Sambo’s face and he returns home, newly pink. All the other toys and his owner now love him. Sambo is happy.

“No wonder he’s happy — little pink Sambo.”

Lena Jeger M.P. wrote to The Guardian at the time highlighting the book’s relevance to proposed legislation to ban ‘Racialist filth, designed to stir up racial hatred’.

A product of her age

Blyton apologists attempt to exonerate the author as ‘a product of her age’ – the constant refrain of those who would excuse the inexcusable.

‘Oh. Things were different back then’.

It seems not. Publishers either rejected or revised her books over half a century ago. Politicians suggesting banning some of her work in the 1960s.

Right-wing social justice warriors

But right-wing social justice warriors need something to bleat about. It’s been a while since any company contrived a cancel culture beat-up to promote their products, so media clowns need to something to feel triggered by.

Of course, Piers Morgan was quick to the party. Morgan is prone to complaining that cancel culture suppresses free speech without recognising that saying ‘We don’t want a racist on a coin’ is free speech.

BTW: This writer read two of Blyton’s books as a child. They seemed corny and dated even then. Cancel culture never stopped kids reading Enid Blyton. Simply, aside from her bigotry, more interesting and relevant reading came along.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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