Seven go on a 21st-century adventure: Enid Blyton classics to be rewritten

 

Cripes! The Secret Seven are off on a new adventure. They are shelving the jolly japes and following the Famous Five into the digital age, taking modern dialogue with them on their travels.

Having modernised the Famous Five ahead of the quintet's 70th birthday this year, publisher Hachette UK has snapped up the rights to Enid Blyton's entire estate, excluding Noddy, and plans to bring more of her most famous characters into the 21st Century.

Marlene Johnson, the managing director of Hachette's children's books division, said that following the deal they had "great plans for the future".

These include new illustrations and updated language, as well as making many more Blyton works available for digital download. In all, it will "catapult Enid Blyton into contemporary society," she said. Hachette, which for some time has published the Famous Five under licence from Chorion, had already called in illustrators including Quentin Blake to "reinterpret" the intrepid child adventurers. There was controversy when the language of theFive was updated last year, but more of Blyton's work, including the Secret Seven and The Naughtiest Girl novels, are now set to ditch their lashings of pop and jolly hockey sticks.

"We will look at all of the works," Ms Johnson said. "We modernised the Famous Five last year, amid much murmuring. But these days you don't talk of jolly japes to kids."

Despite an outcry, the company believes that a revamp could boost sales of the books – in which the stories are unchanged – attracting kids who may have been put off by language they could not relate to.

There might even be a new Famous Five tale to tell, alongside the 21 existing adventures. Ms Johnson said that yesterday they stumbled across an original manuscript called Happy Christmas, Five: "I'm not aware of it being published before." There is a reference to a story of the same title in a Princess Gift Book for Girls, but it is unclear whether it is the same.

Blyton, who died in 1968, was a prodigious writer, with Hachette estimating it now has the rights to over 800 of her novels and short stories. She also remains one of the most popular: having sold as many as 600 million books over the decades, last year Blyton was the 20th best selling author in the UK. Hachette is going to push ahead with digitising her works, of which only about 50 are currently available for download and is confident that digital will be a huge growth area.

Yet some of Blyton's books have been criticised for racism and elitism, perhaps another reason why the language is being updated. Michael Rosen, Children's Laureate between 2007 and 2009, has said: "I find myself flinching at occasional bursts of snobbery and the assumed level of privilege of the children and families in the books. Admittedly, this might go over the heads of the modern children reading now."

While Ms Johnson is "delighted" to have secured the rights to most of the Blyton estate, she was sanguine that Noddy was not included. "Those books have never done well in Britain," she said. "They were more popular in France."

Lady of letters: Enid Blyton

* Blyton's first book, a collection of poems called Child Whispers, was published in 1922.

* In 2009, BBC4 screened Enid, a drama based on the author's life, with Helena Bonham Carter in the title role. It attracted 1.28 million viewers – the third-highest number the young channel had received.

* The first Famous Five novel, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942. The last in the series, which comprised 21 volumes, arrived in 1963.

* Blyton's works have been translated into 90 languages.

* The author is believed to have penned up to 800 books.

* She had a ferocious work rate, penning up to 10,000 words a day – perhaps fuelled by ginger beer.

* Blyton has sold 600 million books worldwide.

* In the BBC's 2003 Big Read poll, The Magic Faraway Tree came 66th.

* In the first decade of this century, Blyton sold £31.2m worth of books, more than Twilight author Stephenie Meyer and Philip Pullman, who described the Noddy author's work as "two-dimensional" and "mechanically recovered".

Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home