Menzies v Enid Blyton – war of the words

Enid Blyton is a world-renowned children’s author, estimated to have sold more than 600 million books. That's almost double the sales of the Harry Potter series. Her books, including Noddy and the Famous Five series, have been translated into more than 90 languages and are still sold all over the world.

But back in 1964, not everyone believed Ms Blyton’s fame and fortune were well deserved. In this doozy of a letter sent to then Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Ms Blyton requests an apology for the ‘grave slur on my name as a writer’, after the PM described one of her books as ‘immoral’ and ‘terrible’ in parliament.

‘I think it must be a mistake in the author’s name – it could not be mine, because I would never write an immoral or terrible book for children,' Ms Blyton said, referring to the story in question, Bob the Little Jockey.

However, in the newspaper article seen here, the mystery author was revealed – and there is no mistaking that famous signature!

So while Menzies may have found her books to be ‘terrible’, sales of more than 600 million might just prove him wrong.

  • read caption below
    Enid Blyton's letter to Sir Robert Menzies
  • read caption below
    The news story of the incident
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018