Cancelling Enid Blyton and her racism is to rewrite history and ignore it | Nicola Adam column

Another day, another long-dead famous name from the past cancelled.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 2:27 pm
Enid Blyton's typewriter

This time it is the turn of an author who has a place on the bookshelves and in the heart of many a now grown-up child – Enid Blyton.

It’s safe to say it is widely acknowledged that Blyton’s many novels, in historical hindsight, were racist and xenophobic. This has been known for years.

In our more enlightened present, we can see the impact of her work on generations in promoting certain levels of ignorance while being an undeniably enjoyable read for children involving picnics and daring adventures.

But I agree with English Heritage on this one. The organisation has confirmed it has ‘no plans whatsoever’ to remove a blue plaque for the Famous Five author. Nor should it.

Because ignoring history it to ignore the issue – we cannot pretend things never happened to be better people.

We need to acknowledge and learn that we have been flawed as a species and need to use the lessons from the past to improve ourselves and combat these very issues.

Ignoring the past is to turn a blind eye is hardly the way forward.

Rewriting the history books and pretending she did not sell 600m books is not the answer, instead we need to address why and how her words may have impacted the generations and do something about it.

Quite why the issue has hit the news again is a mystery but social-media led cancel culture demands a victim virtually every day.

Those who support Blyton argue she helped generations of children to read, which is absolutely true – she was also an inspiration for female writers.

Others argue she was simply a product of her time and if she wrote now, she would adhere to the sensitivities of today’s culture. But then there is no doubt her work is deeply flawed and the racism is real.

But taking away evidence she existed?

How does that help us educate the children of today to be better people than the generations before?

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