Constructing Englishness: War, race, and the empire in Enid Blyton's fiction
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This thesis studies the British children’s author Enid Blyton’s (1897-1968) writing from 1926 to twenty-first century modified editions of her books and series. I argue that Blyton’s twentieth-century fiction constructs a model of English national identity rooted within ideologies of the Empire. By comparing Blyton’s original twentieth-century work and modified twenty-first century editions, I demonstrate the retention of imperial and colonial ideologies in revised, cosmetically deracialised editions of Blyton’s texts. Blyton’s complex construction of national identity responds and adapts to twentieth-century national, political, and imperial developments. This thesis contextualises Blyton’s fiction within multiple literary and historical contexts, including twentieth-century juvenile periodicals; the Second World War, war fiction and conflict narratives; imperial adventure fiction and the decline of the British Empire; and twenty-first century analysis of race and whiteness in children’s literature. Blyton’s construction of national identity is examined primarily through the fiction published in her magazine, Sunny Stories. Blyton is first and foremost thought of as a writer of novels and series, and series such as The Famous Five (1942-1963), The Secret Seven (1949-1963), Malory Towers (1946-1951), and Noddy (1949-1963) receive the most critical attention in academic studies of Blyton’s work. Blyton’s magazine Sunny Stories for Little Folks (renamed Enid Blyton’s Sunny Stories in 1937) is central to this thesis’ study of her work. Many of Blyton’s most well-known series and books were first serialised in Sunny Stories for Little Folks, with the magazine a significant factor in the successful construction and promotion of the Blyton brand in the twentieth century.