Children’s writer Enid Blyton’s work has been deemed racist and xenophobic by English Heritage.
The charity organisation, renown for installing circular blue plaques in sites around the UK with cultural or historical significance, has updated its website to acknowledge Blyton's problematic views.
The Famous Five author, who died in 1968, received a blue plaque in her name in 1997. The plaque was placed at her former home on Hook Road in Chessington, where Blyton began her writing career.
Though the physical plaque remains unchanged, only stating that the address was where the author lived, the online information of the plaque has been updated.
“Blyton’s work has been criticised during her lifetime and after for its racism, xenophobia and lack of literary merit,” the blue plaque page on the English Heritage website now reads.
"A 1966 Guardian article noted the racism of The Little Black Doll , 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.
“In 2016, Blyton was rejected by the Royal Mint for commemoration on a 50p coin because, the advisory committee minutes record, she was ‘a racist, sexist, homophobe and not a very well-regarded writer’. Others 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.”
This will likely not be the only plaque that English Heritage revisit and update.
Following last year's Black Lives Matter protests, the charity organisation, which has almost 1,000 plaques commemorating cultural and historical figures in London, vowed to readdress plaques dedicated to contested figures such as Blyton.
Blyton, considered one of the most popular and prolific authors of the 20th century, penned more than 600 children's books across her four-decade career. Translated into more than 90 languages, her works have sold upwards of 600 million copies. The Famous Five series of adventure novels, as well as the Noddy book series, are regarded among her most successful works.
At the height of her career, Blyton’s work was praised by her fans for covering a wide range of subjects including natural history, education, fantasy and mystery. However, they were also seen as lacking literary merit by literary critics and academics.
The BBC refused to broadcast radio adaptations of her works from the 1930s until the 1950s. Some schools and libraries banned her books for their racist, sexist, xenophobic and elitist connotations.