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Charity cites ‘racism, xenophobia’ in Enid Blyton’s books; netizens give mixed reactions

"Blyton’s work has been criticised during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit," reads the updated blue plaque

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
June 17, 2021 6:38:34 pm
enid blytonThe charity, however, mentioned that Blyton's work still played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read. (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Enid Blyton is among the most cherished English children’s authors. Her works are a treasure trove of adventure and thrill that excites every young reader. A UK-based charity English Heritage, however, has linked Blyton’s works to “racism” and “xenophobia”.

The charity, which manages over 400 prehistoric places, monuments and sites shared it in an updated blue plaque.

English Heritage has placed nearly 950 plaques in and around London to show visitors where important people in history have lived or worked. Blyton’s plaque has been placed at her former home in Chessington, where she started working on the much-loved books The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

On the charity’s official website, the plaque reads, “Blyton’s work has been criticised during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit. A 1966 Guardian article noted the racism of The Little Black Doll (1966), in which the doll of the title, Sambo, is only accepted by his owner once his ‘ugly black face’ is washed ‘clean’ by rain. In 1960 the publisher Macmillan refused to publish her story The Mystery That Never Was for what it called its ‘faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia’. The book, however, was later published by William Collins.”

“In 2016, Blyton was rejected by the Royal Mint for commemoration on a 50p coin because, the advisory committee minutes record, she was ‘a racist, sexist, homophobe and not a very well-regarded writer’. Others have argued that while these charges can’t be dismissed, her work still played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read,” it adds.

Last year, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, English Heritage said it would be contributing to a review by the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity of the historical figures who have been commemorated.

Talking about the plaque, Anna Eavis, curatorial director at English Heritage, was quoted as saying by Sky News, “On our website, we are providing more information for each blue plaque so that people can find out more about the person behind the plaque.”

The controversy invited mixed reactions from netizens. Here’s what they said:

What do you think of the controversy?

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