‘No plans’ to remove books from Derbyshire libraries – after Enid Blyton’s work labelled ‘racist and xenophobic’ by English Heritage

Derbyshire council chiefs say there are currently ‘no plans’ to remove any books from libraries in the county.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 8:48 pm

They made the comment after English Heritage described Enid Blyton’s work as ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic’.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We currently have no plans to remove any books from our libraries but will keep this under review.”

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Enid Blyton sitting in her garden in Buckinghamshire. Picture by George Konig/Getty Images.
Enid Blyton sitting in her garden in Buckinghamshire. Picture by George Konig/Getty Images.

English Heritage has updated its section on the children’s author on its website.

The site states: “Blyton’s work has been criticised during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit.

“A 1966 Guardian article noted the racism of The Little Black Doll (1966), in which the doll of the title, Sambo, is only accepted by his owner once his ‘ugly black face’ is washed ‘clean’ by rain.

“In 1960 the publisher Macmillan refused to publish her story The Mystery That Never Was for what it called its ‘faint but unattractive touch of old-fashioned xenophobia’. The book, however, was later published by William Collins.”

English Heritage adds that Blyton was rejected by the Royal Mint for commemoration on a 50p coin in 2016 because, the committee said, she was ‘a racist, sexist homophobe and not a very well-regarded writer’.

A spokesperson for the Royal Mint said at the time: “The point of the advisory committee is to ensure that themes commemorated on UK coins are varied, inclusive and represent the most significant events in our history.

“For these reasons not every event will progress to a UK coin.”

English Heritage also adds that some have argued that ‘while these charges can’t be dismissed, her work still played a vital role in encouraging a generation of children to read’.

Blyton’s Noddy novels are also considered to be racist due to the fact they contained golliwogs.

Golliwogs are offensive rag dolls used to depict black people, and the golliwogs in the Noddy stories were often villains.

Modern reprints of Blyton’s work has seen the golliwogs in the Noddy series be replaced by the likes of teddy bears and goblins.

Blyton, who was born in 1879, died in 1986.

Her books are among some of the best-sellers in the world with more than 600 million copies sold.

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