But the joy of Enid was the way she could create adventure that enthralled young readers, volume after volume. Her books were exciting and also comforting at the same time. Reading one of her books, you knew that the Bad Guys would get theirs, and that the protagonists would have lots of adventures AND good food along the way.
And what food it was! ginger cake, sardines, new potatoes, bread with butter - although sometimes, she had to rely on tins to feed her characters. They ate pineapples, biscuits, more sardines, potted meat, even butter - all out of tins. The canning business owes a huge debt of gratitude to Madam Blyton.
Her Famous Five series and The Secret Seven are huge, but it was the Adventure series that grabbed me as a child. Dinah, Philip, LucyAnn and Jack - I loved those kids. They were stranded inside hidden Welsh mountains, deserted Middle European valleys lined with secret caves, and kidnapped by more Bad Guys. They joined the circus. They went to sea. They stowed away in planes.they had fabulous pets.
In The Circus of Adventure, they have an unwelcome guest, whom they call Gussy:
‘Why do you have hair like that then?’ said Dinah. ‘You look like a girl. Why don’t you get it cut?’
‘Yes, that’s a good idea,’ said Philip, putting a card down. ‘We’ll go into the village tomorrow and see if there’s a barber. He’ll cut it nice and short for you, Gus. You’ll get a crick in your neck, tossing your hair about like that!
‘Yes. Good idea! We’ll have it cut tomorrow,’ said Jack, grinning at Gus.
Gus surprised them. He flung down his cards, stood up, and went scarlet in the face. ‘Short hair is for boys like you,' he said, scornfully. ‘It is not for me. Never must I have my hair short. In my country always it is the custom for such boys as me to wear their hair long!’
‘Such boys as you!’ echoed Jack. ‘What do you mean? You’ve got a very high opinion of yourself, my lad. You may come from a rich family, but you act like royalty, and it won’t do. You’re not a prince, so don’t try and act like one. It only makes you ridiculous.’
Gus drew himself up to his last inch. He threw back his hair once more. ‘I am a prince!’ he said,
dramatically. ‘I am the Prince Aloysius Gramondie Racemolie Torquinel of Tauri-Hessia!'