All the times Enid Blyton was racist, sexist and xenophobic in her books
She’s famous for writing Noddy and The Famous Five
Today news broke that Enid Blyton will no longer be appearing on a 50p coin, after complaints that her books are "racist, sexist and homophobic."
And people are feeling strongly about the decision, most saying the author was writing in a style that was "of her time."
The Royal Mint has refused to put Enid Blyton's face on a commemorative coin after being known to be a ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and ‘homophobe’, according to the Royal Mint Advisory Committee.
Are they right or should this best-selling writer still be celebrated? pic.twitter.com/ZJT6vVmMAi
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) August 27, 2019
But even at the height of her fame, Blyton's work was rejected by a publisher in 1960 on the grounds that it was xenophobic in nature.
For everyone using the ‘don’t judge by modern standards’ line – Enid Blyton had a manuscript rejected by Macmillan in 1960 on the grounds of xenophobic content. An editorial decrying her racist book ‘The Little Black Doll’ was published by the Guardian in 1966. Don’t do this. https://t.co/FuvKyDqbYV
— Paul Martinovic (@paulmartinovic) August 27, 2019
She was also called out for writing a book about an "ugly" black doll in newspapers at the time.
Not everyone had Enid Blyton’s values in Enid Blyton’s time. Enid Blyton wrote a book about an ‘ugly’ black doll as late as 1966 that was called out in newspapers at the time. Not everyone in the past was dripping in racism and anti-semitism and homophobia to the same extent.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) August 27, 2019
A spokeswoman for the Royal Mint said: “The point of the advisory committee is to ensure that themes commemorated on UK coins are varied, inclusive and represent the most significant events in our history.
“For these reasons not every event will progress to a UK coin.”
But what are the racist and sexist views Enid Blyton expressed in her novels? These are the most well-known instances:
CW: Racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia
The Little Black Doll
The Little Black Doll is about a black doll hated by its owner and all the other dolls. The doll runs away from the house and the rain washes it's face to a pink colour. After this, the other toys and owner welcome the doll back.
The Noddy series was all about toy characters who lived in Toyland. This included Golliwogs, rag dolls depicted with highly offensive representations of black people at the time. The Golliwogs in Noddy were portrayed as thieves, cheats, liars and criminals. These characters were later removed from new editions of the Noddy books.
Here Comes Noddy Again
In the original novel Blyton wrote, golliwogs steal Noddy's car and dump him naked in the Dark Wood. The golliwogs were later replaced by goblins in 1986 and they only steal his shoes, apologising in the end.
The Island of Adventure
Blyton's 1944 novel has a black servant named Jo-Jo who is very cruel to the children in the house.
The Mystery That Never Was
Blyton's book The Mystery That Never Was has been criticised for being xenophobic. Author and editor Phyllis Hartnoll conducted an assessment of the book in 1960 and found "a faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia in the author's attitude to the thieves."
He continued: "This seems to be regarded as sufficient to explain their criminality."
The Famous Five
The Famous Five novels often show the young female characters trying to act like boys, but they're always put into their place, suggesting they'll never be "as good as a real boy." In one instance, Dick tells George: "It's really time you gave up thinking you're as good as a boy." Furthermore, Anne makes sexist remarks like boys not being able to wear pretty dresses or like dolls.
One of the main characters, George, has short hair in Five on a Hike Together. In earlier editions of the novel, Blyton says George's short and spiky hair makes her look like a boy. These references were later removed because of the suggestion that girls needed to have long hair to be seen as feminine or "normal."