Name the Famous English Woman Writer!

• She is a best-selling author of children’s stories who has sold over 400 million books, some say as many as 600 million books.

• Children when polled as recently as 2008 chose her as their favorite author (Costas Book Awards).

• Though famous for writing boarding school stories, she was never a boarding or public school student herself. But she was chosen as “Head Girl” of the school she did attend.

• After school, she was a teacher, had a failed marriage, but remarried with custody of the first marriage’s offspring.

• Her best books are about the adventures a group of children have, stories that involve a mystery, boarding school life, or a magical event or ability. All of them have a firm moral or Christian message.

• She had a problematic relationship with her father; her mother was no longer part of her life after she left home.

• She developed a unique way of communicating with her readers without newspaper or media intermediaries.

• Despite the Christian element in stories, implicit or explicit, she was not religious in a devotional way, but remained a member of the Church of England.

• Her books set records for number of translations (more than 90 foreign languages) and are famous and beloved by children and adults around the world, especially India, Japan, and Germany.

• The girl hero in her best-selling adventures is a swotty tom-boy the author admitted was modeled after herself.


  1. oh, um, yes, um… darn, who is it? 😉

  2. It isn’t Joanne Rowling, if that’s what you’re thinking, or at least it’s not just Joanne Rowling. The writer I’m thinking of was born in 1897 and died in 1968. Ms. Rowling claims to have read “all” of this woman’s books, which seems very unlikely; the author-not-named-here-yet wrote over 700 books, and, though relatively unknown in the US, is something bigger than Seuss in the UK.

  3. Enid Blyton?

  4. Enid Blyton

  5. Enid Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968)

    Want me to show my work?

    I went to Goodsearch & typed in ‘boarding school stories,’ then went to the wikipedia page & looked first at ‘Writers,’ which of course listed Blyton as one of the most prolific & commercially successful writers of this genre.

  6. Enid Blyton

  7. I believe the author is Enid Blyton.

  8. Well, I cheated and looked it up, and though I’ve heard of her, I’ve never read any of her books. I won’t say who it is in case someone honestly can come up with the answer without cheating like I did. Gotta love google and wikipedia though.


  9. Enid Blyton. 🙂

    i didn’t know JKR was (so it sounds like) influenced by her, or at least, had so many similarities with her as a person.

  10. What a kick, John!…. Enid Blyton… I’m not even sure how her books made it onto my small town library’s shelves when I was a kid! Good one!

  11. Am I allowed to compete? It is Agatha Christie, isn’t it?

  12. I correct myself and abase myself for not catching it was children’s books. I hereby offer the correct answer as a citation so that another may name her!

  13. Enid Blyton

  14. I was thinking the astoundingly prolific Mary Pollock?

  15. Well I thought at first it might be JKR, until I got to the bit about Church of England. JKR is a member of the Church of Scotland.

    So I assume it must be Enid Blyton. Hadn’t realised quite how many similarities there were!

  16. PS I am British, which evidently gives me an advantage. I don’t think I read ALL of Enid Blyton’s books (assuming she is the author in question) but I read well over 100 of them. I have nearly that number in my possession still, and my sons are now grown up. Mallory Towers, St Clares and the ‘Naughtiest Girl’ trilogy are the school stories, all of which I loved as a teenager. The ‘Mystery’ series of 13 was another I very much enjoyed. The Famous Five are perhaps the best known (21 of them) and George (Georgina) is the tom-boy, although I didn’t think she was all that swotty. Certainly not like Hermione.

    Everyone I know who is an avid reader as an adult grew up on Enid Blyton.

  17. Ms. Rowling is Episcopal Church of Scotland (Anglican) not Church of Scotland which makes her Anglican if not quite Church of England. Still a remarkable set of parallels, no?

    As almost all of you guessed, the correct answer is Enid Blyton (1897-1968), the author of more than 700 children’s books, from kindergarten reading primers to Famous Five adventures and retellings of Pilgrim’s Progress. What is most remarkable about Blyton, a ubiquitous presence in the life of children around the world in books and assorted media, is how few American children and adults know anything about her or her stories. She is anything but a commonplace in American schools and libraries, and, to my knowledge, there has never been a television or movie made from her work in the US.

    But Blyton’s work is the backdrop that every UK reader and English literature wonk sees first in Harry Potter, believe it or not, because they are the most evident literary echo sounding in Rowling’s work. What other author than Ms. Blyton wrote serial stories for children featuring a group of young adventurers solving a mystery (Famous Five), often with a magical backdrop (The Far-Away Tree), famously in books set in boarding schools (Mallory Towers, St. Clare’s, Naughtiest Girl), all with a strong Christian moral, implicit or explicit (The Land of Far-Beyond)?

    There are other children’s books that are to British children what Dr. Seuss is for Americans that seem to have influenced Ms. Rowling. I think immediately of the thirty nine Just William books by Richmal Crompton featuring the adventures of a never aging 11 year old William Brown and his friends, the Outlaws. Believe me, when Philosopher’s Stone opens as a story of an 11 year old boy’s adventures, many UK readers thought, “oh, Just William.” But, unlike Ms. Crompton’s oeuvre, Ms. Rowling has acknowledged reading Enid Blyton’s books, “a lot of [them],” even, unbelievably, that “she read them all.”

  18. Marmee March says

    Wow, my suburban Chicago public library has a large selection of the Famous Five and Secret Seven series, including audio books, which my two oldest have listened to most of, if not all of. I’ll have to inter-library some of those others you mentioned. I think the Christian morals in these two series were understated enough to be almost missed entirely, or to blend into the milieu, on a casual listen, by/to my American children, partly because of the English colloquialisms and manners.
    –Marmee March-plus-one-son-11/14
    (I guess I need a new online handle)

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