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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

LET’S FEED THE BIRD’S

Attracting-birds
Blue tits and great tits on feeder
There is nothing better than spending a crisp winter morning enjoying birds hopping on and off your bird camera feeder or watching birds attracting their mates to your camera bird box. It can give you hours of pleasure and can become very addictive, especially when you see them playfully flitting around feeding, chirping all in your very own garden.

Problem over recent times.
It is widely stated that many natural habitats have diminished due to the cleaning up of gardens and reducing the main ecological attractors like space, water, food, and shelter. Sadly, also some of our native birds have diminished too. But, don’t despair, there is a lot you can do.

Tips on how to attract birds
Attracting birds can very easy to do and don’t have to take much time, effort of money. By doing so, you will help your local birds as well a give you a lot of pleasure. Here are a few tips on how to help attract and keep birds visiting your garden.Tip 1: Think of space for attracting birds to your garden.
What do we mean by space? Not that dark stuff in the sky, but giving your birds the right habitat to thrive in. The more inviting you make it, the more the birds will come and more enjoyment you will have. Most gardens may be restrictive in size, but you can think horizontally as well as vertically, covering the following:

  • Plant bird attractive native trees for perches and cover and shade for all birds ie: birch, hawhorn, ash etc.
  • Plant bird ornamental native trees that give a valuable food source ie Crab apples, cherries etc.
  • Plant a hedgerow around your garden to allow birds to nest and feed in ie privit, roses, hawthorn.
Plants-attracting-birds
Perfect bird habitat
  • Plant wall and fence creepers to create a good place to hide and feed from.
  • Have a little lawn. This is ideal for encouraging larger birds to feed on worms.
  • Plant native plants of all sizes and diversities to encourage insects to stay which is vital for feeding of wild birds. Think aso of plants that yield berries, seed and fruit.
  • Leave parts of the garden to be wild (Great I know). This will allow cover and shade for insects and feeding birds. Also, try and retain some dead headed plants for feed through autumn/winter months. (I know, any excuse to leave it)

By having cover, you can place your wildlife camera in several hidden locations.

Tip 2: Think of water for attracting birds to your garden.
All birds need to drink regularly. They often have to fly for many meters or miles for a good drink to re-hydrate them and keep their feathers in good condition. Try to:

  • Create a bird bath with varied depth for various sized birds. Throw in some rocks for them to perch on.
  • Place bird bath near cover, so they can hop onto branches easily. But not too close that cats can leave out of the hedgerow.
  • Try to have moving water. Birds seem to be attracted to moving water.
  • Try to keep water clean and ice free. They will reward you by visiting all the time.

Why not try placing your wildlife camera near a bird bath to see how they drink and bathe all year round.

Attracting-great-tit-birdbath
Great tit loving the water
Bird-feeder-for-attracting-birds
Watch birds feed
Tip 3: Think of food for attracting birds to your garden.
Food is very important and can also be a great way to enjoy them too. Most birds eat most types of nuts, seeds, fats and fruit. However, here are a few tips for you to try:

  • Keep your feeder near to cover if you can. Not to close that cats or squirrels get near.
  • Try to keep all feeding stations off the ground. Although, putting a bit of feed on the ground to attract ground feeding birds. But, keep an eye out for any potential predators feeding too.
  • Keep feeding stations clean and free from disease. Pour over some boiling water now and again to clean off.
  • Don’t put feeding stations to near nest boxes as the noise may affect any occupants.
  • Feeders are perfect, try different feeds for different types of birds. Some prefer seeds, fruit and fat.
  • Experiment with various feed to attract different types of birds. Try sunflower hearts, millet seeds, varied seed mixes as well as fat products and live feed too.

Use a bird camera kit to place into your bird table. Alternatively, watch birds enjoy themselves on a camera feeder. It will give you hours of pleasure.

Tip 4: Think of shelter for attracting birds to your garden.

Along with space, shelter is very important to welcome birds to your garden. Bird boxes or nest boxes encourage birds to mate and stay within the garden. Evidence shows that many birds generations stay in the local area year on year. By having a nest box, you are giving a chance to increase numbers and with a camera nest box, you can enjoy them too. Try these tips:

  • If space allows, try placing nest boxes with different sized holes for different birds.
  • Don’t put boxes to close to each other. Some birds are territorial and therefore can affect occupancy if to close.
  • Don’t place your nest box in too exposed areas facing the worse of the weather, or in direct sun.
  • Try to position your boxes near quieter parts of the garden. Too many birds or too much noise can affect their occupancy.
  • Clean your nest box once a year to help occupancy. Autumn is a good time for this. In fact, it you are only legally allowed to empty a box during Oct/Jan (UK Countryside Act 1981)
  • Position box 1.5-5m above the ground safe from predators
  • Make sure box is dry and has ventilation holes. Our nest boxes are larger than average boxes allowing plenty of room for a variety of birds.

Try a bird camera nest box. You will not only be able to give your birds a habitat but you can enjoy them too.

attracting-birds-bird-box
Don’t forget your nest box

Finally
We hope these tips help you get the best out of your garden and attract and help increase our native bird numbers. Please let us know if there are any other good tips to add.

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ee

“New Year Resolutions” is a very thought-provoking poem with deals with the three main resolutions of the poet at the arrival of New Year. Her three resolutions are the most significant and deep in their connotations because they point to the three ills of human life which are frequently ignored. She outlines her resolutions as under:

Her first resolution is to take long draughts of quiet as a means of purifying herself of the material sins which have darkened her soul. This might have been caused by overdrinking or excess idle talking. 

Her second resolution is to remember twice daily who she is and think over what her purpose of creation is, why she has been sent into this world and what she owes to her God who created her and how she can fulfill her duties and responsibilities. This could be caused by the irresponsible nature of the poet that she has been living aimlessly and without any touch of religion; but now she wants a change because she has been fed up with her present mode of life. 

Her third and last resolution is that she will face the reality now and be comforted in its arms. The poet says that it useless to go on dreaming all the time and have wishful thinking. She says that one should be practical and realistic and face the reality with a bold attitude. 

“New Year Resolutions” is a very practical and realistic poem and inspires in man the spirit of leading a pure, realistic, practical and successful life.

by Elizabeth Sewel

Your favourite poem

Sent in by you

 

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This is a fun little project the kids loved making last year and were just as thrilled to pull out of the Christmas decorating box And see them again this year.

.snow globe
Here are the supplies you will need:snow globe
– Figurine ($3 at local toy store) and tree ($1 for 3-pack at dollar store)
*Note, make sure figurine fits in opening of globe!
– Globe (I used a jar from a dollar store $1)
– Snow (here I used finely shredded coconut and sugar to add sparkle)
– Glue gun
– Marker

snow globe
I am sure it is pretty self-explanatory to do this but here are the steps:

1) If the jar is not even all around, close lid and make a mark on lid where the front of the jar is so you will know which way to place figurine.

2) Open lid and hot-glue figurine and tree to lid

3) Fill globe with snow, close lid and voila!
snow globe

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sant

Christmas is not just for kids!

Is Christmas just for kids? I say-no way! Christmas is a time of joy for us all. I view it as an all-American holiday that has religious meaning for some but can also be enjoyed for the many other things it represents. No, Christmas is not just for kids! Adult pleasures abound and may be even more wonderful than the magical feeling children have while awaiting Santa Claus.

Here are a few of my favorite reasons to embrace the holidays in a grown up way.

The arrival of the winter solstice:

In the Pacific Northwest, where I live, we celebrate the solstice, because this date just before Christmas opens the way to longer days. My husband and I always enjoy hosting a gathering for friends around this time of year. We ask everyone to bring their favorite foods and wines to share, and friends who are willing to play for the group entertain us around the piano. We all wrap up the evening feeling warm, with a smile on our faces.

Time to enjoy wonderful foods:

I love to cook, and Christmas Eve dinner is one of my favorite meals to plan and prepare. It’s become a tradition to make a rich potato dish that’s really just sliced potatoes covered in rich cream and baked-I prepare this dish only once a year and savor every decadent bite! Sometimes we have lamb, and other years it’s prime rib. This Christmas we’ll enjoy a pork roast with the potatoes and lots of other treats, including a decadent dessert. I’ve also been busy baking cookies and surprising friends and neighbors with a plate of treats still warm from the oven.

Time to express gratitude to friends:

The holiday season is a wonderful time to slow down and enjoy getting together with our favorite people for a meal, a drink, or dessert. It’s a time to express appreciation for services done and for friendships, both of which we tend to take for granted during the rest of the year. I got great pleasure from watching our two pet sitters open their cards to find extra holiday cash and seeing the face of my next-door neighbor when I arrived with a plate of treats.

The music is amazing:

I simply adore holiday music. My favorites are Andrea Bocelli and the Three Tenors, and these two CD’s are getting worn from being played over and over. There’s something quite magical about having a lit tree that smells of the forest as a backdrop for Christmas songs sung in Italian.

So, while the Christmas season can be stressful for many, for so many reasons, it doesn’t have to be. Take the steps you need to take to have a relaxing, bright, and warm holiday season!!

WHAT DO YOU THINK

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OfficialChristening1

By George, he’s gorgeous! Not a tear, not a peep from our future king as prince is christened at St James’s Palace

  • The world able to see Prince George in public for the first time in three months as he arrived to be christened
  • Royal fans braved the wind and rain and slept on street in London to be outside St James’s Palace yesterday
  • George was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the historic Chapel Royal yesterday afternoon
  • Guest list secret until yesterday morning and in break from tradition most uncles, aunts and cousins not invited
  • The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrated with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry
  • Kate’s family also there along with Her Majesty and three future monarchs – Charles, William and George
  • George was baptised using water from the River Jordan in a replica of royal christening robe first made in 1841
  • Christening followed by tea at Clarence House served with slices of Kate and William’s wedding cake from 2011


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COMPILED BY ANITA BENSOUSSANE

Early Family Life
Enid and Her Father, Thomas Carey Blyton
Enid and Her Mother, Theresa Mary Blyton (Nee Harrison)
First School
Childhood Games
Books That Enid Read as a Girl
Senior School
Her Parents’ Separation
Early Writing
Music
Teacher-Training
First Recorded Publication of an Enid Blyton Work
Teaching
The Death of Her Father
Success as a Writer
Marriage to Hugh Alexander Pollock
Early Work and First Novel
Life at Elfin Cottage
Old Thatch
Pets
Birth of Gillian and Imogen
Green Hedges
Divorce of Hugh and Enid
Marriage to Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters
Major Series and Other Writing
Enid Blyton’s Magazine
Final Years
Her Legacy

1. EARLY FAMILY LIFE

Enid Mary Blyton was born on 11th August 1897 at 354 Lordship Lane, a two-bedroom flat above a shop in East Dulwich, South London. Shortly after her birth her parents moved to Beckenham in Kent and it was there, in a number of different houses over the years, that Enid Blyton spent her childhood. She had two younger brothers—Hanly, born in 1899, and Carey, born in 1902.

2. ENID AND HER FATHER, THOMAS CAREY BLYTON

Enid’s father, Thomas, was a cutlery salesman as a young man. He then joined his uncle’s firm selling Yorkshire cloth and, later still, set up his own business as a clothing wholesaler. He and his daughter had a close, loving relationship—both had dark hair and alert brown eyes, and shared an appetite for knowledge and a zest for life. Together they enjoyed nature rambles, gardening, the theatre, art, music and literature. When Enid had whooping cough as a baby, and was not expected to live till morning, her father refused to accept the doctor’s opinion and sat up all night with her, cradling her and willing her to survive.

Enid learnt a lot from her father, especially about nature. In her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1952), she wrote:

“…my father loved the countryside, loved flowers and birds and wild animals, and knew more about them than anyone I had ever met. And what was more he was willing to take me with him on his expeditions, and share his love and his knowledge with me!
That was marvellous to me. It’s the very best way of learning about nature if you can go for walks with someone who really knows.”

Thomas also taught his young daughter lessons that would stand her in good stead in daily life. When she wanted to plant seeds in her own patch of garden he made a bargain with her, saying:

“If you want anything badly, you have to work for it. I will give you enough money to buy your own seeds, if you earn it. I want my bicycle cleaned—cleaned well, too. And I want the weeds cleared from that bed over there. If the work is done properly, it is worth sixpence to me, and that will buy you six penny packets of seeds.”
Enid appreciated the seeds, and the flowers which sprang up from them, all the more for having been made to work for them. Part of the pleasure and value lay in the fact that she had earned them for herself.

3. ENID AND HER MOTHER, THERESA MARY BLYTON (NEE HARRISON)

Although she adored her father, Enid’s relationship with her mother, Theresa, was more turbulent. Theresa was a tall, raven-haired woman whose life revolved around housework. She was not creative and artistic like Thomas, and did not share his interests. She expected her daughter to help with household chores but gave her sons a lot more freedom, which Enid, who was not very domesticated, resented. Stern and house-proud, Theresa did not approve of Enid devoting so much time to nature-walks, reading and other hobbies when there was work to be done in the house. Neither did she understand why her husband encouraged their daughter in such activities.

4. FIRST SCHOOL

Enid began her schooldays at a small school run by two sisters in a house called Tresco, almost opposite the Blyton home. As an adult, Enid Blyton said about the school:

“I remember everything about it—the room, the garden, the pictures on the wall, the little chairs, the dog there, and the lovely smells that used to creep out from the kitchen into our classroom when we sat doing dictation. I remember how we used to take biscuits for our mid-morning lunch and ‘swap’ them with one another—and how we used to dislike one small boy who was clever at swapping a small biscuit for a big one.”
Enid’s days at Tresco were happy. She was a bright girl, blessed with a good memory, and she shone at art and nature study, though she struggled with mathematics.

5. CHILDHOOD GAMES

Games that Enid played as a child included Red Indians, Burglars and Policemen, building dens and playing with tops, hoops and marbles. Indoors she played card games, Snakes and Ladders, Draughts and Chess. Her father thought that all young children should learn to play Chess because “… if they have any brains it will train them to think clearly, quickly and to plan things a long way ahead. And if they haven’t any brains it will make the best of those they have!”

6. BOOKS THAT ENID READ AS A GIRL

Enid loved reading. Among the books she read were Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies and Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women. She said of the characters in Little Women:

“Those were real children… ‘When I grow up I will write books about real children,’ I thought. ‘That’s the kind of book I like best. That’s the kind of book I would know how to write.'”
Enid Blyton enjoyed myths and legends too, and poetry and annuals, and magazines like Strand Magazine and Punch. She was fascinated by Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia:
“It gave me my thirst for knowledge of all kinds, and taught me as much as ever I learnt at school.”
Grimm’s fairy-tales she considered “cruel and frightening” and, although she liked Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, some of them were “too sad.” Among her favourite books were Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books and R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island, but the one she loved best of all, and read at least a dozen times, was The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. What appealed to her “wasn’t so much the story as the strange ‘feel’ of the tale, the ‘atmosphere’ as we call it. It hung over me for a very long time, and gave me pleasant shivers.”
7. SENIOR SCHOOL

In 1907 Enid Blyton became a pupil at St. Christopher’s School for Girls in Beckenham. She was not a boarder, like so many of the characters in her books, but a day-girl. Intelligent, popular and full of fun, she threw herself wholeheartedly into school life. During her time at St. Christopher’s she organised concerts, played practical jokes, became tennis champion and captain of the lacrosse team, and was awarded prizes in various subjects, especially English composition. In her final two years she was appointed Head Girl.

Outside school she and two of her friends, Mary Attenborough and Mirabel Davis, created a magazine called Dab, for which Enid wrote short stories. The title of the magazine was formed from the initials of the contributors’ surnames.

Enid’s first holiday abroad in 1913 was to stay with one of her French teachers, Mlle. Louise Bertraine, at her home in Annecy, France.

8. HER PARENTS’ SEPARATION

Thomas and Theresa had little in common and grew more and more unhappy and frustrated in their marriage as the years passed. They had frequent violent rows, causing their children great distress. At night-time, Enid, Hanly and Carey would sit at the top of the stairs with their arms around one another for comfort, listening to their parents’ heated arguments. One night, when Enid was not quite thirteen, the children heard their father state angrily that he was leaving and would not be coming back. To Enid’s shock she learnt that there was another woman in his life, Florence Agnes Delattre, a secretary, and that from now on he would be living with her.

Since marital breakdown was regarded as a scandal in suburban Beckenham in 1910, Theresa forced Enid and her brothers to pretend, if asked, that their father was merely “away on a visit.” This pretence, which the family kept up for years, appears to have left Enid with a lifelong tendency to cover up anything unpleasant and put on a façade. In 1951 she wove this traumatic experience into a novel, The Six Bad Boys.

Her father’s leaving was hard for Enid to accept and she seems to have viewed it as a rejection of her personally. Years later, when she was married, she had difficulty conceiving a baby and was found to have an under-developed uterus, equivalent to that of a girl aged twelve or thirteen. It has been suggested that the trauma of her father’s departure may have had a long-term effect on her physical as well as her emotional development.

9. EARLY WRITING

Deprived of Thomas’s support and inspiration, Enid was now more than ever at the mercy of her mother, with whom she did not see eye to eye. To assuage her unhappiness she took to locking herself in her bedroom and writing compulsively, setting a pattern which was to be repeated in adulthood. She had a vivid imagination and had known for some time that she wanted to be a writer, and now she spent every spare minute honing her talent. Her mother despaired of her, dismissing her work as mere “scribbling.” Enid sent off numerous stories and poems to magazines in the hope that they would be published but, except for one poem which was printed by Arthur Mee in his magazine when she was fourteen, she had no luck at this stage, receiving hundreds of rejection slips. Her mother considered her efforts a “waste of time and money” but Enid was encouraged by her schoolfriend Mary’s aunt, Mabel Attenborough, who had become a good friend and confidante.

10. MUSIC

Towards the end of 1916 Enid Blyton was due to begin studying at the Guildhall School of Music. She had a gift for music and her family had always assumed that she would become a professional musician like her father’s sister, May Crossland. Throughout her childhood Enid had spent many hours practising the piano but, as she grew older, she begrudged devoting hours to the piano when she would rather be writing. She was aware that her true talent lay in telling stories, but found it impossible to convince her family of that.

11. TEACHER-TRAINING

It was after a spell teaching Sunday School in the summer of 1916, while staying with friends of Mabel Attenborough at Seckford Hall near Woodbridge in Suffolk, that Enid suddenly knew what to do. She made up her mind to turn down her place at the Guildhall School of Music and train as a teacher instead. That would give her close contact with the children for whom she knew she wanted to write, and she would be able to study them and get to know their interests.

Enid lost no time in putting her plan into action and, in September 1916, she embarked upon a Froebel-based teacher-training course at Ipswich High School. Things had deteriorated badly between her and Theresa and it was around this time that Enid broke ties completely with her mother, spending holidays from college with the Attenboroughs rather than returning home to her mother and brothers. She kept in touch with her father, visiting him at his office in London, but she could not bring herself to accept Florence, with whom Thomas had had three more children, and she and her father were not as close as they had once been.

12. FIRST RECORDED PUBLICATION OF AN ENID BLYTON WORK

In 1917 one of Enid’s poems, “Have You…?” was accepted for publication by Nash’s Magazine. Since a couple of earlier published poems (including the one printed in the Arthur Mee magazine) have never been traced, “Have You…?” is the first recorded publication of an Enid Blyton work.

13. TEACHING

Enid Blyton proved to be an inventive, energetic teacher and, after completing her training in December 1918, she taught for a year at a boys’ preparatory school, Bickley Park School in Kent. Next she became governess to the four Thompson brothers, relatives of Mabel Attenborough, at a house called Southernhay in Surbiton, Surrey. She remained there for four years and, during that time, a number of children from neighbouring families also came to join her “experimental school,” as she called it. The accounts of lessons at “Miss Brown’s School” in Enid Blyton’s Book of the Year (1941) surely owe something to her years as a teacher at her own little school in Surbiton, which she later said was “one of the happiest times of my life.”

14. THE DEATH OF HER FATHER

It may have been a happy period on the whole but it was in 1920, while teaching at Southernhay, that Enid received the news that her father had died suddenly, of a heart attack, while out fishing on the Thames. At least, that is what she was told but the truth was that he had suffered a stroke and died in an armchair at home in Sunbury, where he lived with Florence and his new family. It appears that the true whereabouts of his death was not made public as it would have caused embarrassment owing to Theresa having been so secretive about the breakdown of her marriage.

Enid had continued to visit her father at his London office, despite being estranged from the rest of her family, and the news must have come as a dreadful shock. However, she did not attend his funeral or even mention his death to the Thompsons. It may be that, having cut herself off from the rest of her family, she did not feel up to dealing with such a difficult and emotional occasion and answering awkward questions from either her family or her employers. Or perhaps her way of coping was to shut away her feelings, as she had been taught to do as a child.

15. SUCCESS AS A WRITER

Enid persevered with her writing and, in the early 1920s, began to achieve success. Stories and articles were accepted for publication by various periodicals, including Teacher’s World, and she also wrote verses for greetings cards. 1922 saw the publication of her first book, Child Whispers, a slim volume of poetry, and in 1923 a couple more books were published as well as over a hundred and twenty shorter pieces—stories, verses, reviews and plays.

16. MARRIAGE TO HUGH ALEXANDER POLLOCK

On 28th August 1924 Enid Blyton married Hugh Alexander Pollock, who was editor of the book department for the publishing firm George Newnes. The two of them had met when Enid was commissioned by Newnes to write a children’s book about London Zoo—The Zoo Book (1924.) Hugh had been born and brought up in Ayr and had joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers at the beginning of the First World War, being awarded the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) in 1919. His first marriage had ended when his wife had an affair, and he had to obtain a divorce in order to marry Enid.

The wedding, at Bromley Register Office, was a quiet occasion, with no member of either Enid’s or Hugh’s family attending the ceremony. The couple honeymooned in Jersey and Enid was later to base Kirrin in the Famous Five books on an island, castle and village they visited there. After the wedding Enid and Hugh lived first of all in an apartment in Chelsea, moving to their first house, newly-built Elfin Cottage in Beckenham, in 1926.

17. EARLY WORK AND FIRST NOVEL

Enid Blyton worked on a number of educational books in the 1920s-30s, among other things, and in 1926 she began writing and editing a fortnightly magazine, Sunny Stories for Little Folks. It became a weekly publication in 1937 and changed its name to Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories, finally becoming Sunny Stories. What could be said to be Enid Blyton’s first full-length novel, The Enid Blyton Book of Bunnies, was published in 1925 (it was later re-titled The Adventures of Binkle and Flip.) However, that book is episodic in nature, reading more like a collection of individual stories about two mischievous rabbits, and The Enid Blyton Book of Brownies, published in 1926, is perhaps more deserving of the title “first novel.”

In 1927 Hugh persuaded Enid to start using a typewriter. Before that she had written her manuscripts in longhand. Hugh was instrumental in helping his wife establish herself as a writer by publishing her stories at Newnes and, almost certainly, by teaching her about contracts and the business side of her work.

18. LIFE AT ELFIN COTTAGE

Hugh and Enid led a quiet and contented life in the early years of their marriage, their leisure time consisting of gardening, occasional outings to the theatre and cinema, and seaside holidays. Hugh indulged his wife’s playful, childlike side and they would build snowmen together, play “catch” and French cricket in the garden, and have games of “conkers.”

19. OLD THATCH

In 1929 they moved to Old Thatch, a sixteenth-century thatched cottage with a lovely garden near the River Thames in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire. Enid described it as being “like a house in a fairy tale.” It had once been an inn and Dick Turpin was said to have slept there and stabled his horse, Black Bess, in one of the stables. There was also a tale of treasure hidden on the premises, which has never been found.

At Old Thatch Hugh and Enid began to have more of a social life, enjoying dinner parties, tennis and bridge. In October 1930 they went on a cruise to Madeira and the Canary Islands aboard the Stella Polaris, the details of which remained vividly in Enid’s mind, providing her with material for books written years later such as The Pole Star Family and The Ship of Adventure, both published in 1950.

20. PETS

As children, Enid and her brothers had not been allowed to keep pets. Their mother was not fond of animals and their father was worried that cats and dogs might spoil his garden. Enid had once found a stray kitten which she called Chippy and kept secretly for a fortnight, but when her mother found out about it the kitten was sent away. Enid made up for that by having plenty of pets when she was grown-up—dogs, cats, goldfish, hedgehogs, tortoises, fantail pigeons, hens, ducks and many others. One of her most famous pets was Bobs, a fox-terrier. Enid Blyton wrote letters for her Teacher’s World column about family life as seen through the eyes of Bobs—in fact, she kept on writing these “Letters from Bobs” long after the dog had died!

21. BIRTH OF GILLIAN AND IMOGEN

Enid and Hugh had trouble starting a family but eventually, on 15th July 1931, their elder daughter Gillian was born. After a miscarriage in 1934 they went on to have another daughter, Imogen, who was born on 27th October 1935.

1938 saw the publication of Enid Blyton’s first full-length adventure book, The Secret Island. She had already written another fairly long adventure story, The Wonderful Adventure, in 1927, but that was really a novella rather than a full-length novel. Enid was by now giving more time than ever to her writing, relying increasingly on domestic staff for housework, gardening and childcare, and she did not have a lot of time to spend with her children. She played with the girls for an hour after tea and sometimes took Imogen out with her to meet Gillian from school. Enid and Hugh no longer had as much time together either. Both were very busy with their work and Hugh, who had been working with Churchill on his writings about the First World War, was falling into depression at the realisation that the world was on the brink of another war. He turned to alcohol for consolation, drinking secretly in a cubby-hole beneath the stairs, while Enid sought solace in her writing and in the close companionship of her friend, Dorothy. Dorothy Richards, a maternity nurse, had come to help out for a few weeks after Imogen was born, and she and Enid had quickly become firm friends. Dorothy, who often came to stay at Old Thatch, was a serene figure who gave Enid a feeling of security at a time when her relationship with Hugh was beginning to disintegrate, and Enid felt that she could rely on her and confide in her.

22. GREEN HEDGES

It was to Dorothy, not Hugh, that Enid turned for help and advice when hunting for a new and larger home, settling on a detached eight-bedroom house, about thirty or so years old, in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. The house was mock-Tudor in style, with beams and lead-paned windows, and was set in two-and-a-half acres of garden “with a great many little lawns surrounded by green yew hedges.” Enid organised the move in August 1938, while Hugh was ill in hospital with pneumonia, and her Sunny Stories readers chose a name for the house—Green Hedges.

23. DIVORCE OF HUGH AND ENID

Enid continued writing during the war years. Hugh rejoined his old regiment—the Royal Scots Fusiliers—and was soon posted to Dorking in Surrey to train Home Guard officers. His absence put even more strain on the already fragile marriage and, while on holiday with Dorothy in Devon in the spring of 1941, Enid Blyton met the man who was to become her second husband, surgeon Kenneth Fraser Darrell Waters. Hugh had also become romantically involved with novelist Ida Crowe, and he and Enid were divorced in 1942. Kenneth divorced his wife too, with whom he had had no children.

24. MARRIAGE TO KENNETH FRASER DARRELL WATERS

Kenneth and Enid were married at the City of Westminster Register Office on 20th October 1943, six days before Hugh’s wedding to Ida. Gillian and Imogen had not seen their father since June 1942, when he had left for America to advise on Civil Defence, and sadly they were never to see him again. Although she had promised that Hugh would be free to see his daughters after the divorce, Enid went back on her word and refused to allow him any access at all. She cut her first husband out of her life just as she had done with her mother, perhaps pretending to herself that neither had ever existed. In doing this she was continuing the pattern of behaviour—pretence and denial—that she had learnt in childhood, and making a fiction of her own life. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life (1952), contains photographs of her “happy little family”—herself, her second husband Kenneth, Gillian and Imogen. There is no mention of Hugh and, although it is not explicitly stated, readers are given the impression that Kenneth is the girls’ father.

Kenneth, a surgeon, worked at St. Stephen’s Hospital in Chelsea, London. He was an active man who enjoyed gardening, tennis and golf. While he was serving in the Navy in the First World War, his ship had been torpedoed at the Battle of Jutland, permanently damaging his hearing. As a result, Kenneth found social situations awkward. His deafness made communication difficult, causing him to come across as rude or insensitive at times.

Immensely proud of one another’s achievements, Enid and Kenneth were very happy although they were bitterly disappointed when, after discovering she was pregnant in the spring of 1945, Enid miscarried five months later, following a fall from a ladder. The baby would have been Kenneth’s first child and it would also have been the son for which both of them longed.

Kenneth and Enid travelled abroad together only once, in 1948, when they joined friends for a three week semi-business holiday in New York, sailing out on the Queen Elizabeth and back on the Queen Mary. Again, Enid Blyton was to use this experience in a book—The Queen Elizabeth Family, published in 1951. Otherwise, most of their holidays were spent in Dorset where they purchased a golf course and a farm in the 1950s. The farm in Five on Finniston Farm (1960) was inspired by Enid and Kenneth’s own farm, Manor Farm in Stourton Caundle, while Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962) is set firmly in a part of Dorset which Enid Blyton loved, with Whispering Island being based on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

25. MAJOR SERIES AND OTHER WRITING

Enid Blyton ceased writing her regular column for Teacher’s World in 1945, after almost twenty-three years, giving her the opportunity to widen the range of her writing activities. Daughters Gillian and Imogen were both at boarding-school and she had begun most of her major series by then including the Secret series, the Famous Five books, the Find-Outers mysteries, the Adventure series, the St. Clare’s books, the Cherry Tree/Willow Farm series and the Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair books. These were later to be joined by the Secret Seven books, the Barney (or “R”) mysteries, the Malory Towers series and the Six Cousins books. Noddy made his first appearance in 1949 and by the mid-fifties there was a huge amount of Noddy-themed merchandise in the shops.

Altogether, Enid Blyton is believed to have written around 700 books (including collections of short stories) as well as magazines, articles and poems. She wrote an incredible variety of books for children aged about two to fourteen—adventure and mystery stories, school stories, circus and farm books, fantasy tales, fairy-tales, family stories, nursery stories, nature books, religious books, animal stories, poetry, plays and songs, as well as re-telling myths, legends and other traditional tales. She earned a fortune from her writing and in 1950 she set up her own limited company, Darrell Waters Ltd., to manage the financial side of things.

26. ENID BLYTON’S MAGAZINE

In 1952 Enid relinquished Sunny Stories after twenty-six years, launching her fortnightly Enid Blyton’s Magazine in March 1953. She wrote all the contents herself except for the advertisements, using the magazine to mould her readership through her stories, editorials and news-pages, encouraging her child readers to be kind, helpful and responsible and impressing upon them that, if they used their initiative, they could do their bit and make a difference to society, whatever their age. Through the pages of her magazine she promoted four clubs which children could join—the Busy Bees (which helped animals), the Famous Five Club (which raised money for a children’s home), the Sunbeam Society (which helped blind children) and the Magazine Club (which raised money for children who had spastic cerebral palsy.) Thousands of readers joined and Enid Blyton spoke proudly of the “army of children” who were helping her carry out the work she wanted to do.

Enid Blyton’s Magazine folded in September 1959 as Enid wished to spend more time with Kenneth, who had retired from his work as a surgeon in 1957. By that time the four clubs had approximately 500,000 members between them and had raised about £35,000 in six years—an enormous amount of money in those days.

27. FINAL YEARS

It was in the late 1950s that Enid Blyton’s health began to deteriorate. She experienced bouts of breathlessness and had a suspected heart attack. By the early 1960s it was apparent that she was suffering from dementia. Her mind was no longer sharp and she became confused, afflicted by worrying memory lapses and seized by a desire to return to her childhood home in Beckenham with both her parents. Her last two books (excluding reprints of earlier material) were re-tellings of Bible stories, The Man Who Stopped to Help and The Boy Who Came Back, both published in August 1965.

Kenneth was ill too, with severe arthritis. The medicine he took for his arthritis damaged his kidneys and he died on 15th September 1967, leaving Enid a lonely and vulnerable woman. Gillian and Imogen were in their thirties by then, living away from home. They visited regularly and did what they could for their mother but she declined physically and mentally over the next few months, cared for by her staff at Green Hedges. In the late summer of 1968 Enid was admitted to a Hampstead nursing home and, three months later, she died peacefully in her sleep on 28th November 1968, at the age of 71. She was cremated at Golders Green in North London and a memorial service was held for her at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, on 3rd January 1969.

28. HER LEGACY

Several decades after her death, Enid Blyton is not forgotten. The best of her lives on in her books, many of which are still in print, and she continues to entertain, educate and inspire children around the globe through the words she wrote. She encourages her readers to look afresh at the world around them—to observe, explore, investigate, discover and learn. Long may that continue! To quote a few apt lines from Enid Blyton’s “The Poet,” published in The Poetry Review in 1919:

“Dear heart
And soul of a child,
Sing on!”

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