Enid Blyton and the BBC | Revealing the writer's troubled relationship with the BBC

Memo from BBC Schools Department.

Jean Sutcliffe explains the policy regarding Enid Blyton.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT


From: Miss J.E. Sutcliffe, 210, 1 P.P.
PBX 1290
23rd November 1954

Subject: ENID BLYTON

To: Miss Janet Quigley, Editor, Woman's Hour.
Copy to: H.S.B.

Please forgive me in advance, if I put down nothing but what you already know.
In a one sided conversation on such a subject it is almost inevitable.

I suspect our opinion of Enid Blyton's work is much the same, but it is debatable
whether it is fair to keep her out of the sort of programme you suggest if there
is a demand from the audience to get into closer touch with this well-known
personality.

In my view if the invitation is simply to meet her and she be asked to give her
views on Horror comics or Hats or anything under the sun except her own methods
and aims in writing for children - no harm could be done. But if she is allowed
to lay down the law on aims and methods of writing for children - unchallenged
by really good writers or parents and educationalists of wide and deep experience
in the field of children's literature, the BBC becomes just another victim of
the amazing advertising campaign which has raised this competent and tenacious
second-rater to such astronomical heights of success.

That her work is better than the mass of similar material on the market is no
argument. Neither is the cry 'But children love her books!'. All is grist that
comes to their mill.

No writer of real merit could possibly go on believing that this mediocre
material is of the highest quality and turn it out in such incredible
quantities. Her capacity to do so amounts to genius and it is here that she has
beaten everyone to a standstill. Anyone else would have died of boredom long ago.

Her books do no harm (and have in fact certain passive virtues) if children have
access to plenty of other material. The danger lies when adults (both parents and
teachers) accept her commercial success as the badge of literary quality and are
satisfied if nothing but Enid Blyton books are available for their children. I
firmly believe that children with capacity for growth in literary taste, given
freedom to read widely (though they may get E.B. and other crazes for a while)
invariably leave these and similar books behind and never return to them. Nothing
can be more valuable than the exposure to this kind of experience at as early an
age as possible. But if children are deliberately fed with only one type of
writing and get no experience of this wider kind in their early years, the
opportunity may be lost for ever.

It is because of all this that I think people in positions like ours have every
right to exercise our judgement in deciding who shall utter unchallenged on
certain subjects. But we have no right, as I see it, to keep a popular figure
from speaking personally on subjects outside our field of guardianship.

I am afraid this has become very long in spite of considerable effort to cut down
the number of words you must read. If I have not been helpful, perhaps you would
have time for a few minutes talk - let me know if you would like that.

JES

(Jean Sutcliffe)
Schools Broadcasting Department


ABOUT THE BBC ARCHIVE
The BBC Archive - sharing pictures, documents and programmes from the last 75
years of the BBC's broadcasting history. To find out more visit:
www.bbc.co.uk/archive

Document Type | Memo

23 November 1954

Document version

Writtenin

1954

Synopsis

Having been invited for her views on Enid Blyton in a memo from the editor of 'Woman's Hour', Jean Sutcliffe of the BBC Schools department suggests a review of the policy that has kept the author off the BBC's airwaves.

Did you know?

Enid Blyton first approached the BBC in 1938, in the hope of broadcasting to her fans across the country.

Read the letter she wrote to the Head of Programmes.

Contributors

More like this...

Documents

A letter from Enid Blyton to the head of BBC programmes.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Head of BBC Programmes.

WRITTEN 1936
1 Page

The children's author pitches ideas for a radio broadcast.

A letter from Hugh Pollock to Sir John Reith.

Enid Blyton's husband writes to the BBC Director General.

WRITTEN 1938
2 Pages

Hugh Pollock drops a line to Sir John Reith on behalf of his wife.

A letter from Sir John Reith to Hugh Pollock.

Sir John Reith replies to Hugh Pollock's letter.

WRITTEN 1938
1 Page

The BBC Director General offers to help Enid Blyton.

A letter from Enid Blyton to Sir John Reith.

Enid Blyton writes to Sir John Reith.

WRITTEN 1938
3 Pages

The children's author tells the BBC Director General her 'story so far'.

Memo reviewing Enid Blyton's books.

Internal Memo from Schools Department about Enid Blyton.

WRITTEN c. 1938
2 Pages

The work of Enid Blyton receives a critical review.

Letter from Enid Blyton to 'Children's Hour' director.

Letter from Enid Blyton to 'Children's Hour' director.

WRITTEN 1940
2 Pages

The children's author tries again to work for the BBC.

BBC memo about Enid Blyton's writing.

Internal memo reviews an Enid Blyton story.

WRITTEN 1940
1 Page

It's thumbs down for 'The Monkey and the Barrel-Organ'.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Reverend JW Welch.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Rev JW Welch.

WRITTEN 1942
2 Pages

A presenter of BBC religious programme learns of Blyton's thoughts on 'Christian training'.

Letter from Reverend JW Welch to Enid Blyton.

Reply from Rev JW Welch to Enid Blyton.

WRITTEN 1942
1 Page

A BBC broadcaster asks the children's author for ideas.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Reverend JW Welch.

Enid Blyton replies to Rev JW Welch.

WRITTEN 1943
4 Pages

The writer reveals the difficulties of adapting the Bible for children.

Letter from Enid Blyton to 'Woman's Hour' producer.

Letter from Enid Blyton to 'Woman's Hour'.

WRITTEN 1947
2 Pages

The 'children's heroine' chooses not to talk to adults.

Letter from BBC Children's producer to Enid Blyton.

Introductory Letter from Lionel Gamlin to Enid Blyton.

WRITTEN 1949
1 Page

A BBC producer tries to arrange an interview with celebrated children's author.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Lionel Gamlin.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Lionel Gamlin.

WRITTEN 1949
2 Pages

Enid writes to a BBC producer with surprising news.

Letter from BBC Children's producer to Enid Blyton.

A diplomatic response from Lionel Gamlin.

WRITTEN 1949
1 Page

BBC producer Lionel Gamlin doesn't confirm or deny a Blyton ban.

Letter from Enid Blyton to Lionel Gamlin.

Blyton sets Mr Gamlin straight.

WRITTEN 1949
1 Page

Blyton lets Lionel Gamlin know that she didn't jump but was pushed.

Memo from head of 'Children's Hour' to BBC producer.

Internal Memo from Derek McCulloch to Lionel Gamlin.

WRITTEN 1950
1 Page

Head of BBC 'Children's Hour' confirms the existence of Blyton ban.

Letter from Enid Blyton about her fan mail.

Enid Blyton writes about her fan mail.

WRITTEN 1951
2 Pages

The author outlines her busy life to BBC producer.

Memo in which BBC staff discuss Enid Blyton.

Memo from Janet Quigley to Jean Sutcliffe.

WRITTEN 1954
1 Page

The 'Woman's Hour' editor asks a Schools expert about Enid Blyton.

Memo from Jean Sutcliffe of BBC Schools Department.

Memo from BBC Schools Department.

WRITTEN 1954
1 Page

Jean Sutcliffe explains the policy regarding Enid Blyton.

Copyright © 2014 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.