Enid Blyton’s uncensored books with ‘obsolete’ language are ‘hidden in spaces forbidden by librarians’
- Some of Enid Blyton’s original releases are placed in “off limits” sections of libraries
- This is to ensure that readers don’t “stumble” over some “obsolete languages” being used
Enid Blyton’s classic novels are loved around the world, but some of her works have been rewritten to remove “obsolete” language.
And uncensored versions are placed in “no-go storage” in libraries to prevent the public from “stumbling” over the old wording.
Recently edited works are publicly displayed in Devon libraries, but tales that have not yet been edited are not so easily accessed.
If a reader requests an original version of titles like The Famous Five, they will be presented with a verbal warning, according to The Telegraph.
The original versions are cataloged online and if a reader chooses to access them, a warning system will remind them of the language used in older editions.
Enid Blyton’s classic novels are loved around the world, but some of her works have been rewritten to remove ‘obsolete’ language
The changes were revealed in documents from Devon County Council.
It was explained that Library Unlimited – which runs the council’s library service – regularly checks books, replacing them with modified versions.
The documents say that when popular titles contain “increasingly outdated” language, libraries buy new edited versions.
The no-go area of the libraries also contains books that have been removed due to staff or customer complaints – such as the autobiography of previously incarcerated Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defense League.
Blyton composed over 700 books, including beloved titles like The Famous Five series and Noddy, from the late 1930s until his death in 1968.
But publishing house Hodder confirmed in 2010 that Blyton’s works would be refreshed to make them “timeless”.
In January last year, Jacqueline Wilson rewrote The Magic Faraway Tree to remove “gendered expectations” from female characters, with domestic chores for girls replaced with a lesson in gender equality.
And in February, Blyton’s Famous Five and Malory Towers books saw words such as ‘brown’ in reference to tanned faces, ‘queer’ and ‘gay’ changed to update them.
A description of a “brown-faced fisher boy” was “changed to tan fisher boy”, while “Where’s George?” She wants a spanking’ became ‘She wants a good conversation’.
English Heritage published updated blue plaque information in 2021 stating that the Blyton booking had been linked to ‘racism and xenophobia’.
Examples of “racism” in the books include 1966’s The Little Black Doll, in which the main character “Sambo” is only accepted by her owner “once her ‘ugly black face’ is washed ‘clean’ by the rain”, while in Noddy, ‘golliwogs’ were changed to ‘goblins’.
English Heritage also now cites that publisher Macmillan refused to publish The Mystery That Never Was due to its “old-fashioned xenophobia” towards foreign characters.
Dr Byrn Harris, legal adviser to the Free Speech Union, told the Telegraph: ‘We are puzzled by the decision to treat the author of Noddy as a dangerous and subversive samizdat.’
He asserted that libraries have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service and alleged that “withholding certain works and making them less accessible may not meet this standard”.
Dr Harris also alleged that the reasoning for placing the books out of public view was of “questionable relevance”, despite the many previous criticisms of Blyton’s works.
“If public libraries insist on having a censorship policy, users, especially children and their parents or guardians, should be clearly informed that library holdings may not be complete due to the policy,” added Dr Harris.
MailOnline has approached Devon County Council and Libraries Unlimited for comment.