Enid Blyton was the author responsible for encouraging generations of children to read so to 'cancel' her books is so wrong / Dave Thomas

I’ve been asked once or twice how do I manage to think of something to write every week. Do I not get stuck for ideas?

Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Columnist Dave Thomas has sprung to the defence of iconic author Enid Blyton whose work has been described as racist and xenophobic
Columnist Dave Thomas has sprung to the defence of iconic author Enid Blyton whose work has been described as racist and xenophobic

But how can I not find something when, week after week, something crops up that just makes you stop and shake your head in disbelief?

But here we go, they’re at it again, the 'Woke Brigade,' the activists who seem to think they can decide for us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot think, what we should and should not read, labelling the writers of the past that should be seen as racist or politically incorrect, and then acting to have them removed from schools and libraries.

'Cancel culture' is alive and well, when people whose writing, views and opinions are deemed unacceptable, are then ostracised and ‘shamed’ on social media.

One of the first to be ‘outed’ was Rudyard Kipling’ deemed racist, colonial and jingoistic. The newest addition to the list is Enid Blyton. Enid Blyton the writer of enough children’s books to stretch from Burnley to London. Six hundred million copies, in fact, in 90 languages.

Her books brought millions of children, over the years, to the joys and pleasure of reading. The Famous Five books, the Secret Seven books, not to mention Noddy and Mr Plod. They are a product of past times, of different acceptances, different attitudes, of different norms.

But 'cancel culture' judges them by today’s norms, and decrees that they are out of place and offensive.

And just who are the self-appointed 'cancel culture' judges?

BLM, the Black Lives Matter movement has a lot to do with it, with the death of George Floyd kickstarting anti-racism (and rightly so).

It led to renewed condemnation of the inequalities that black cultures face. It highlighted the differences in opportunities and treatment. It highlighted blatant racism. It could be argued, however, that it then got out of hand and all-pervasive.

Blyton in the 1950s included characters that we would not think of including today, black dolls, for example, named Golly, Wolly, and the ‘N’ word. Fair enough then that her books today are re-worded. They have to be. But to then undermine her appeal, to clear the shelves of her books, and to have her ‘cancelled’ is wrong.

Where would that leave Richmal Crompton and the ‘Just William’ books; or Captain Johns and Biggles?

These are Blyton stories that hugely appeal to children, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, harmless adventures, children’s imaginations fired up.

In the austere 50s, when they first appeared, they provided an escape into a world of holidays, picnics, campfires and friendship.

English Heritage, guardians of our history, came under fire for describing her, online, as racist and xenophobic as part of the potted biography they provide for anyone who has a blue plaque fastened to a wall. But at least they didn’t say children should no longer be reading her books. At least they acknowledged that she played a vital role in getting generations of children to read.

Wokists are unable to do that. 'Cancel culture' can never acknowledge that their targets ever did anything good.

Who will the next targets be? Jane Austen or Will Shakespeare maybe. It wouldn’t surprise me.