The Famous Five turn 75!
As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Enid Blyton classic, here are five reasons we loved reading about Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog!
It’s always the school holidays. Having usually spent the day counting down the minutes until the school bell rang, The Famous Five invited us in to their halcyon world where it was seemingly always the school holidays – and yet no one ever got bored! Instead of geometry lessons and home economics, Five got to spend their days outwitting thieves or hunting clues for a treasure chest as they did in the very first book, Five on a Treasure Island, published 75 years ago this year. Even better, there were never any adults around to tell them off as their parents would helpfully disappear for days on end. Try as we might, our own parents never quite heeded our pleas for them to do the same...
Did anyone else notice that whenever The Famous Five weren’t crime-fighting or dogooding, they were ALWAYS eating? Their typical hamper fare included rationing-era staples like cold ham, salad, bacon and eggs as well as mouth-watering goodies such as “ginger cake made with black treacle… dark brown and sticky to eat.” And that’s not mentioning the blood-sugar soaring gallons of homemade lemonade and lashings of ginger beer they guzzled.
They were our friends
Over The Famous Five series, we all felt like we came to know the characters as our friends. We all knew of – or were ourselves – a tomboy like George with a flaming temper, earth-stopping sulks and an insatiable appetite for adventure. Dick, meanwhile, was the dependable, courageous and cheeky boy we all recognised, and possibly once had a crush on, from our class. And while Anne could get on our wick with her crying and Julian was far too pompous for his own good, we did grow to love them like own our private gang of playmates. Best of all, though, was Timmy the excitable, heroic dog thousands of household mutts around the country were made to feel disappointingly inadequate in comparison to. We also loved some of the regular guest characters including Jo the gypsy girl, George’s scientist father Uncle Quentin and Sooty Lenoir.
The children win
Armed with nothing more sophisticated than maps, torches and lots and lots of sandwiches, Five would always win the day over the baddies, realising our young dream that children would one day come out on top. Enid Blyton trained as a teacher before taking up writing and always made sure Five never resorted to deceitful tactics, winning fair and square with good oldfashioned courage, honesty and manners.
We just couldn’t put them down
Enid Blyton only planned six Famous Five books but actually wrote 21. Having cut her teeth writing magazine serials, she knew all too well how to keep us gripped, leaving the end of every chapter on a teasing cliffhanger. It’s no wonder the original books have never been out of print.
Famous Five adventures were a mustread across the generations