Enid Blyton’s Top 5 Series: Mystery, Adventure & More

The secret seven collection by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968) is one of the world’s most successful and prolific children’s authors. She wrote some seven hundred full-length books, many of which have never been out of print. Here is a selection of Blyton’s top 5 series.

Despite controversy over the literary merit of some of her work, including the use of outdated and offensive language, she remains one of the world’s most popular fiction authors, coming sixth in an all-time bestselling list by estimated sales (behind William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Danielle Steel, Harold Robbins, and Dr. Seuss, and well ahead of J.K. Rowling at number 10).

Her books were intended for children between the ages of about three and twelve, and many were part of a series — one of the most popular being “The Famous Five.”

. . . . . . . . . . .

Learn more about Enid Blyton
. . . . . . . . . . .

Blyton aficionados will have personal favorites; these are some of the many titles continuing to be reprinted and enjoyed today (and are a good place to start if you’re new to Blyton’s books).

. . . . . . . . . . .

The Famous Five

The famous five by Enid Blyton

“The Famous Five” are Julian, Dick, Anne, and their cousin George (full name Georgina — but don’t ever call her that!), along with Timmy the dog.

Their adventures began in 1942 with Five on a Treasure Island, and a further twenty thrilling escapades followed until the final book in the series, Five Are Together Again, was published in 1963. Blyton also wrote several short stories featuring the same characters.

The children spend their holidays camping and exploring by themselves, finding plenty of mysteries along the way — and, of course, always with a good supply of sandwiches and ginger beer.

The places in the books are based largely in the southwest of England, from Dorset to Cornwall, and feature Kirrin Island, Smuggler’s Top, Demon’s Rocks, as well as remote farms, ruined castles, and caves.

The original books were illustrated by Eileen Soper; more recent editions have been illustrated by Pippa Curnick and Sir Quentin Blake.

Minor amendments have been made to the text over the years as part of an editorial process aimed at eliminating or altering the offensive and outdated language in the original versions (especially with regard to race and gender). Still, the books have never been out of print, and the series still sells around 250,000 copies per year.

Several television adaptations have also been made, and a new miniseries based on the books (titled The Curse of Kirrin Island) was broadcast on the BBC in December 2023. In addition, continuation novels have been written by Claude Vollier and Mary Danby; in 2000, six “Just George” books were published, written by Sue Welford.

Other spin-offs include The Famous Five Adventure File, The Famous Five Diary, and The Famous Five’s Survival Guide, along with various puzzles and games and a Famous Five Treasury.

. . . . . . . . . . .

The Secret Seven 

Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven Society is made up of Peter and his sister Janet, along with their friends Jack, Colin, George, Pam, and Barbara (and golden spaniel Scamper).

Together they investigate unusual goings-on in the local community— burglaries, missing people, and stolen animals. They’re experts in hunting for clues, shadowing suspicious people, and keeping watch.

All Secret Seven meetings take place in a shed with S.S. on the door; admission is only granted with the correct password, and membership badges must be worn.

The first in the official series of fifteen books, The Secret Seven, was published in 1949, although Peter and Janet had appeared in two earlier stories, At Seaside Cottage (1947) and The Secret of the Old Mill (1948).

In the 1970s and 1980s, Evelyne Lallemand wrote several continuation novels, and in 2019–2020 two new Secret Seven mysteries were published, written by Pamela Butchart: The Mystery of the Skull and The Mystery of the Theatre Ghost.

Original illustrations were by George Brook, Bruno Kay, and Burgess Sharrocks. Since 2013, editions have been released by Hachette with illustrations by Tony Ross.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Malory Towers

Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

This ever-popular school series was first published in 1946. The original series consisted of six books, one for each year of heroine Darrell River’s time at Malory Towers boarding school. A further six continuation novels were published in 2009, written by Pamela Cox.

Malory Towers is a girls’ school set on the cliffs in Cornwall: a picturesque castle with four round towers, a courtyard, and a seawater-filled swimming pool surrounded by the rocks.

Darrell (named after Enid Blyton’s second husband, Kenneth Darrell Waters) desperately wants to make a success of her time at the school, but between her hot temper and the antics of her classmates — clever and funny Alicia, spiteful Gwendoline, dependable Sally, and meek Mary-Lou — things don’t always go as planned.

It’s a world of midnight feasts in the dorms, lacrosse games, practical jokes, friendship and rivalry, and the challenges of school.

In 2019, Hachette published a book called New Class at Malory Towers containing four short stories by different authors (Narinder Dhami, Patrice Lawrence, Lucy Mangan, and Rebecca Westcott). In 2020, CBBC produced a television adaptation of the original books.

. . . . . . . . . . .


Noddy by Enid Blyton

Noddy is still probably the most famous character to be associated with Enid Blyton, although he admittedly does have something of the ‘Marmite effect’ — people either seem to love him or loathe him.

Noddy is a little wooden toy created by Old Man Carver. He’s sent off to Toyland, where his adventures promptly begin along with other toys: Big Ears, Tessie Bear, Bumpy Dog, and PC Plod. Noddy has a house of his own and a stylish little red and yellow car, while his best friend Big Ears lives under a perfect spotted toadstool.

The first Noddy book, Noddy Goes to Toyland, was published in 1949 (illustrated by Harmsen Van Der Beek), and a further 24 original books were published before the last, Noddy and the Aeroplane, appeared in 1963.

Over the years, there has been a wealth of Noddy merchandise including Noddy soap, Noddy bedlinen, Noddy toothbrushes and toothpaste, Noddy pajamas, and Noddy bedside lights, as well as varying spin-off books including hard books and pop-up books.

There have also been several television series made (the image of which generally bears little resemblance to Blyton’s original work and the original illustrations).

Like “The Famous Five” the Noddy books have never been out of print, but have undergone a clean-up process of changing or eliminating some of the racist and sexist language in the originals.

. . . . . . . . . . .

The Faraway TreeThe Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

The Faraway Tree is a huge tree in the middle of the Enchanted Wood, laden with fruit of all kinds and home to the fairy folk. The uppermost branches of the tree lead to the ever-changing magical lands above the clouds.

When Jo, Bessie, and Fanny come to live at the edge of the wood, they discover the Faraway Tree and make friends with Moon-Face, Mister Watzisname, Silky the Fairy and the Saucepan Man.

Days are spent climbing the tree – which involves avoiding the dirty water that Dame Washalot pours down the trunk, and trying to ignore the Angry Pixie – and exploring the Land of Take-What-You-Want, the Land of Topsy-Turvy, the Land of Spells, and the Land of Goodies.

The Faraway Tree made its first appearance in The Yellow Fairy Book (now published as The Magic Faraway Tree: Adventure of the Goblin Dog) in 1936, and the first in the main trilogy, The Enchanted Wood, was published in 1939. It was followed by The Magic Faraway Tree in 1943, and The Folk of the Faraway Tree in 1946.

At some point in the editorial process, the names of the children were changed from Jo, Bessie, and Fanny (and their cousin Dick) to Joe, Beth, Frannie, and cousin Rick. These changes have been kept throughout subsequent editions of the books.

In 2022, celebrated children’s author Jacqueline Wilson wrote a new book in the series, The Magic Faraway Tree: A New Adventure, featuring three contemporary children Milo, Mia and Birdy, who follow in Jo, Bessie, and Fanny’s footsteps in discovering the Faraway Tree.

Contributed by Elodie Barnes. Elodie is a writer and editor with a serious case of wanderlust. Her short fiction has been widely published online and is included in the Best Small Fictions 2022 Anthology published by Sonder Press. She is Books & Creative Writing Editor at Lucy Writers Platform, she is also co-facilitating What the Water Gave Us, an Arts Council England-funded anthology of emerging women writers from migrant backgrounds. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, and when not writing can usually be found planning the next trip abroad, or daydreaming her way back to 1920s Paris. Find her online at  Elodie Rose Barnes

A few more Enid Blyton series

Enid Blyton wrote an enormous number of series for different ages, so if none of the above takes your fancy then maybe another will! Others still in print include:

  • The St, Clare’s books, which follow the school adventures of twins Pat and Isabel O’Sullivan.
  • The Naughtiest Girl books, in which spoiled Elizabeth is sent away to Whyteleafe school, and makes up her mind to be the naughtiest pupil ever.
  • The Mystery Series, in which Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets, and Buster the dog solve mysteries much like the Secret Seven.
  • The Secret Series, in which adventure and mystery go hand in hand for Jack and his friends Mike, Peggy and Nora.

More about the Blyton controversies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *