Tales of Long Ago
Author : Enid Blyton
Format : Hardcover, 184 pages.
Condition : Used. Name on inside front cover, no other marks or tears.
About the Book
Excerpt from the book:
Pandora and the Whispering Box
Long, long ago, when the world was new, and no pain or sorrow was known, Epimetheus lived with his beautiful young wife Pandora. They dwelt in a house made of branches and leaves, for the sun shone always, and the wind was never cold.
Every one was happy. Merry voices came on the breeze, and laughter was heard everywhere. Epimetheus and Pandora were happiest of all, for they loved one another very dearly, and were never apart.
One day, as they were dancing beneath the trees, they saw the god Mercury coming towards them. He carried a wooden box on his shoulder, and looked tired and hot.
About Enid Blyton
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tales of Long Ago