Life changing

'Five Have Plenty Of Fun' thanks to you

Enid Blyton is one of England’s most prolific authors, best known for writing The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and Noddy. Yet without the help of National Lottery players, much of her story would be lost to the public. Ahead of World Book Day (March 1st) we spoke to Sarah Lawrance at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. Sarah successfully bid for the largest collection of Blyton typescripts and artefacts in the UK...

Sarah: The auction was one of the most memorable – and nerve wracking – days of my career. It felt like a huge responsibility, bidding to buy the typescripts on behalf of the nation in the face of stiff competition from collectors and dealers. Fortunately we were well prepared and I had expert help in the saleroom. I think we were lucky the sale was at an auction house in Ilkley, where Gillian Baverstock (Enid Blyton’s eldest daughter) lived. If it had been in London it might have attracted even more attention and we could have been outbid. As it was, we managed to acquire almost all the lots we bid for, which was a huge relief.

Highlights from the auction include:

  • Enid Blyton’s original hand corrected typescripts including Five have Plenty of Fun (1954), Last Term at Malory Towers (1951), Look Out, Secret Seven (1962) and Cheer Up Little Noddy (1960)
  • Enid Blyton’s famous typewriter
  • And the most exciting discovery of all is what appears to be a previously unpublished novel, entitled Mr Tumpy's Caravan. Owing to the similarities in title, it had been assumed this typescript, which runs to 180 pages, was an early draft of Mr Tumpy and His Caravan, a picture strip book published in 1949. However, Seven Stories contacted an expert at the Enid Blyton Society, Tony Summerfield, just to make sure – Tony is extremely knowledgeable about Blyton's published works, and has compiled the authoritative bibliography of her works, so we were confident in his advice. We were absolutely delighted when he, with equal excitement, informed us our typescript was most definitely not an early draft of Mr Tumpy and His Caravan but was an entirely new, previously unknown work! It also appears to be quite an early piece – the address given on the title page is Old Thatch, a house Blyton moved out of in 1938, so the novel was definitely written before that date. Which makes it even more interesting, as it gives some insight into how Blyton's creative talent developed.

We're really grateful for the support of National Lottery players that has made this possible.

Cover image:Sarah Lawrance, Collection and Exhibitions Director, Seven Stories.

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