Blyton abandoned by her birthplace

Writers' roots: No centenary celebration for creator of Noddy and Famous Five
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The Independent Online
There will be no lashings of ginger beer, no buns for tea and no jolly larks in Beaconsfield next summer. While the rest of Britain is preparing to celebrate Enid Blyton's centenary, the local town council in Buckinghamshire has forgotten the birthday of its most famous daughter.

The celebrated children's writer, who was born in August 1897 and lived in Beaconsfield for 30 years, wrote more than 700 children's books in her lifetime. Among the most well known were the Famous Five adventures of Anne, Dick, George, Julian, and Timmy the dog, and the Noddy books.

But Beaconsfield has chosen to honour the bicentenary of the death of an 18th century political writer instead. Edmund Burke also lived in Beaconsfield, from where he went on to produce some of his own most famous works including Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Lesley Mallinder, deputy mayor of Beaconsfield, said: "We are not snubbing Enid Blyton, this was not a deliberate attempt to not celebrate the centenary. It was an oversight. We simply didn't realise it was the centenary next year. People are not terribly au fait with dates of things like that."

She added: "It may not be true of rest of Britain but Edmund Burke is more famous in Beaconsfield. There's only one road named after Enid Blyton, that's Blyton Close, but there are many after Burke. We're not against a celebration, but we couldn't have anything that clashed."

Many of Blyton's books have attracted the ire of the politically correct in recent years, for their racism and sexism, and some libraries banned them from their shelves, but the council insisted the absence of a celebration was purely an oversight.

Despite the indifference in Beaconsfield, a number of national celebrations have been organised. Trocadero, which bought up Blyton's work for pounds 13m earlier this year, has set up publishing, broadcast and merchandising deals.

The Royal Mail will also launch a set of commemorative stamps, and Noddy, whose adventures have been translated into 30 different languages including Latin, is being given a site on the Internet. The television dramas will include the Famous Five, Amelia Jane and the Secret Seven.

Gillian Baverstock, the author's eldest daughter who is organising the centenary year for Enid Blyton Limited, was stoical about the lack of celebrations in Beaconsfield. She said: "I suppose if the town council can only afford to celebrate one author, then Burke is a tremendous political figure. There will be plenty of countrywide celebrations for my mother."

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