Gloves on…

Time for another of our sporadic vote-offs, I think. In the past Jane Eyre has triumphed over Wuthering Heights; Music over Art; Hardy and Dickens came out equal, and… well, I can’t remember the others. But it’s been gripping.

Today we’re taking a step into children’s literature. I’ve noticed that whenever I mention Enid Blyton, I get lots of happy comments – she inspires that sort of nostalgic joy in a lot of us. When JK Rowling’s name is heard, we reveal a slightly guiltier pleasure – perhaps because, for most of us, it’s not a nostalgic issue, not yet.

But today they’re going head to head – please cast your vote for your favoured author:
Enid Blyton vs. JK Rowling.


Of course you can also vote for ‘neither of the above’ if you’re feeling very grown up… but I shan’t settle for a ‘both of ’em’ answer – ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to nail your colours to the mast!

39 thoughts on “Gloves on…

  • December 4, 2009 at 12:25 am
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    My vote has to go to Blyton since I've never read Rowling. And Blyton played an important part in my very early years of reading.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 2:19 am
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    I've never read Blyton.. I'm opposite of Onesimus. so that's my vote I guess. Tell us (well, me)of Blyton… :)

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  • December 4, 2009 at 2:35 am
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    Much as I enjoy Enid Blyton, my vote goes to J.K. Rowling. I've been rereading the Harry Potter books for a decade now and I still find them magical and charming.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 3:47 am
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    Maybe its not a fair comparison. Aren't their books aimed at different readerships?

    Blyton was aimed at readers UP to early teens (maybe even pre-teen) and Rowland FROM early teens upwards?
    I can't really see the possibility of Blytons books being published in special adult friendly editions as was the case with the Harry Potter books.

    Tim

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  • December 4, 2009 at 5:33 am
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    My vote goes to Enid Blyton! She coloured my childhood …

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  • December 4, 2009 at 8:49 am
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    Blyton was wonderful, it's true. But Rowling had so much more competition and still rose above it because she is a superb writer. I have to vote for Rowling.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 9:24 am
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    I have never read any of Blyton either, so I can't in all fairness vote. I did read with pleasure all of the works of Rowling.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 9:29 am
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    I would have to say Enid because her books were the books of my childhood. Maybe if I was born a bit later I would be saying Rowling. Since watching Enid I have been inspired to re-read by old Blyton books, but am worried that they may not stand the test of time :S

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  • December 4, 2009 at 9:30 am
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    I've never read Rowling so my vote goes to Blyton (great readings of my childhood).
    Lewerentz

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  • December 4, 2009 at 10:11 am
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    Controversial, Simon!
    Personally I would have to say Enid Blyton – she is part of the fabric of my childhood and so many of my hopes and dreams as a little girl were based on stories of hers I read. I love the Harry Potter series but they haven't touched my soul in the same way. Perhaps if I had been younger when they were first published, my answer would be different.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 10:25 am
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    I vote for neither.

    I have read and liked Blyton as a child (the Five books and Malory Towers), but I didn't unreservedly love them and I haven't kept any (I did keep a lot of other children's books).

    I've only read HP and the Philosopher's Stone as an adult, and I'm sure I would have liked or maybe even loved HP as a child, but now, not so much. I really don't understand what adults who didn't grow up with these books see in them, when there are so many truly wonderful children's books around.

    I think stylistically JKR is a modern EB. They certainly have the formulaic writing in common.

    Sorry for the rant! :)

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  • December 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm
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    No contest, it has to be Enid!

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  • December 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm
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    I loved Enid Blyton, but I love J.K. Rowling more.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm
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    My vote has to go with Blyton and no question!!! She is one of the reasons I started reading, J.K isn't! Though she is one of the reasons my younger siblings (both aged under 12) read!

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  • December 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm
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    I never read Blyton as a kid (or at all!) so I vote for JK Rowling. I never know if I'm too old to read Enid Blyton for the first time now.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 2:31 pm
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    This is a tough question. I've read all the Harry Potter books and think that Rowling is the more exceptional writer. However, I did read them as an adult.

    In contrast, I read a few Enid Blyton books as a child and though only a few, somehow the name Enid Blyton conjures up wonderful reading memories! So Enid it is!!!

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  • December 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm
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    I did rather enjoy the earlier Rowling books though got a bit bored with the later ones. My vote definitely has to be for Enid, despite the fact that in her home life she was clearly nutty as a fruitcake. I loved her when I was a child and though there is lots you could say that is critical, she had something really special, I think.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm
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    Enid every time. She wrote so many different types of books,for every age group.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm
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    I have only read two Harry Potter books. Unfortunately, I read them when I was an adult. Probably, if I had read them as a child as I did Enid Blyton's books, my impression of her would have been totally different. Nonetheless, I have described J.K. Rowling in my new book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com) as the "heir-apparent" to Enid Blyton's children's literary legacy.

    Stephen Isabirye

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  • December 4, 2009 at 10:50 pm
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    My vote goes to Enid Blyton. I couldn't wait to get to the library & see if there were any of her books I hadn't read.

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  • December 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm
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    Never read any Harry Potter books so will have to vote for Enid Blyton.

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  • December 5, 2009 at 11:00 am
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    It has to be Enid – I spent sooo many hours in her company as a child and she definitely set me off on the track of being an avid reader.

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  • December 5, 2009 at 2:39 pm
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    I loved Enid Blyton as a child, but then there didn't seem to be many other books available to me when I look back,so I can't tell how important she would have been if I'd had more choice. The Harry Potter books get better with every reading so my vote has to be for Rowling.

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  • December 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm
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    JK Rowling for me. Although I devoured the Famous Five and the Adventure series as a kid, I was never a big reader oh hers – and my 9yr old won't touch any Blyton at all, but adores HP.

    Admittedly, Blyton has been slightly soured for me since discovering how little time she appeared to devote to her own children after the rather excellent biopic on the BBC with Helena Bonham-Carter. I must read a full biog of her – can anyone recommend one?

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  • December 5, 2009 at 7:08 pm
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    Annabel – I've only read one, Barbara Stoney's, and that was very good – quite influential in the Helena Bonham Carter and Maureen Lipman biopics, I think.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 1:55 am
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    Hi Simon. I want to pass on to your American readers who may not have read The Summer Book that bn.com has fresh new copies for $4.48. What a price for such a wonderful book. I first read it upon your recommendation and am now buying it for several friends.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 7:14 am
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    well, I've never even heard of Blyton, so I must go with Rowling. 'Sides, I do like me some Harry Potter.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 7:16 am
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    I vote for neither of the above.

    Books by both authors had significant impacts on me at different points in my life.

    Enid Blyton when I was a child and Rowling when I was stepping into my teen years.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 12:35 pm
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    Both Blyton and Rowling have got thousands of children keen on reading. At present Rowling only has the one series. Blyton wrote for all ages – books from Noddy to Famous Five adventures and school stories. So my vote goes to Blyton – and she was the one who got me involved.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 11:24 pm
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    Can I do a "write-in" (or a type-in?) for E. Nesbit? I adored her as a child. Only looked at Blyton and Rowling as an ancient dowager and vote for Blyton from "ancient-dowager" point of view.

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  • December 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm
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    Rowling, I think. Not because her work is amazing (it's good, but not fantastic), but because of the standard she maintained. Apart from Order of the Phoenix, which was well below par, I don't think she's yet written a book that's actually bad.

    Blyton, on the other hand, wrote the same book fifty times ([2-7] upper middle class and rather unpleasant children go off and have formulaic adventures, ending in learning a Valuable Lesson™), and it wasn't a very good one to start with. Still a big part of my childhood, but I suspect most of that was second-hand nostalgia from my parents…

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  • December 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm
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    A *very* difficult choice as I love both but I think I will have to plump for Enid Blyton as she was the author who started me off reading – Noddy and Big Ears. :-D

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  • December 7, 2009 at 8:50 am
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    Enid Blyton WAS my childhood (is that sad? I hope not) but Rowling is a much better author. Perhaps the test is whether you can go back later in life and find that books appeal as much to you as an adult as they did as a child. I am currently doing this with Arthur Ransome. Rowling, Pullman and Coifer are all clearly designed to appeal to adults as well as children. Ransom and Crompton perhaps aren't, but do. Blyton just doesn't, somewhow.

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  • December 7, 2009 at 6:16 pm
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    I would vote for JK Rowling even though I was devoted to Enid Blyton as a child. JK I read now whenever I want some comfort reading whereas the Enids are no longer on my bookshelf. Hard really as they are so different. I loved the River of Adventure series and the Famous Five best. But have been immersed in Harry Potter when I was ill and it really was a help, especially the humour and the apt names! And knowledge of English folklore eg did you know she based the house elfs on traditional hobgoblins who could not wear clothes, and were almost invisible doing tasks around a house?

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  • December 8, 2009 at 11:26 am
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    Rowling over Blyton – I read Blyton voraciously from 5-11, but only read Rowling as an adult. Rowling's fundamental world view is infinitely more generous and life-affirming than Blyton's. She's also got a lively sense of humour and created some truly magnificent monsters (Dolores Umbridge step forward, a terrible concatenation of the more aggravating of the Labour government's women ministers but who manages to transcend the inspiration). Blyton, sense of humour…I think not.

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  • December 8, 2009 at 5:12 pm
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    Very nicely put, Madeleine. I have forgotten whether Enid B's views are life-affirming or not – I liked George the tomboy the most, and the whole idea of children having adventures on their own. But JK is a great author to read now and once again like EB creates great scope for children-only adventures – and has a huge theme of good and evil, death and life, as well.

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