Unruly girls and midnight tea parties: a love letter to Malory Towers
As with so many readers, my interest in books blossomed at a young age. I started reading when I was about six and haven’t stopped since. As trite as it may sound (because sometimes the biggest things are so hard to convey) I cannot imagine my life without books. If there was a single writer responsible for introducing me to literature… it was Enid Blyton.
Enid Blyton has written a wide variety of famous book series for children – some of which have stood the test of time, and some of which haven’t. However, the ones that hold a special place in my heart are the Malory Towers books. These beauties taught me so much that I feel genuinely sorry for all the criticism Enid had to endure. Apparently, at the time, her books were considered too simple and “not challenging enough” for children. In addition, she was such a prolific writer that a rumour went around about Blyton having ghostwriters working for her.
Anyways, haters aside, The Malory Towers series are still very important to me and every time I start reminiscing about my childhood, memories of reading Blyton’s books come to mind. I often wonder why Enid was so important to so many readers across generations. What could she mean to me, a Portuguese girl growing up in the 21st century?
I think the answer is a simple one. Good books never age and their message is universal. Even though I have never visited the UK – and nor did I grow up during the 40’s – I could still identify with most of the motifs and characters who reigned in Malory Towers.
Darrell Rivers, our Malory Towers heroine, could not be more like the 10 year old me. She has a quick temper and often gets in trouble because of that. Whenever faced with injustice, she acts first and thinks later. As a child, I was so pleased to read about Darrell. I was Darrell too (or Diana in the Portuguese translation) and I felt understood.
Looking back at these books, I can also see something very empowering about them. Blyton show us that girls can and do have riotous fun (I mean those late night tea parties are just epic) and that you do not have to lose your personality in order to fit in with a group. Darrell’s friends have all sorts of talents and they are not all aiming for the same predictable future.
I’m also quite partial to authors who create characters who want to be writers… because hey, that’s me since elementary school. That is probably the reason why I sobbed at the end of In the fifth at Malory Towers, when Darrell feels utterly happy for watching the play she wrote come to life. (*insert tears of joy*)
Enid Blyton has created a beautiful world for readers of all generations. You can have your dose of detective children, magic trees, school drama, unruly girls and legendary pranks. And for all, that I am forever grateful.
Thank you Enid.
Thank you Malory Towers.