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Uncensored Enid Blyton books with ‘outdated’ language are ‘hidden off limits to librarians’

Uncensored Enid Blyton books with ‘outdated’ language are ‘hidden in spaces forbidden by librarians’

  • Some of Enid Blyton’s original versions are placed in ‘forbidden’ sections of libraries.
  • This is to ensure that readers do not ‘stumble’ over some ‘outdated language’ used

Enid Blyton’s classic novels are loved around the world, but some of her works have been rewritten to remove “outdated” language.

And the uncensored versions are being placed in “forbidden storage spaces” in libraries to prevent the public from “stumbling” over the old wording.

Recently edited works are publicly displayed in Devon libraries, but tales that have not yet been edited are not as easy to access.

If a reader requests an original version of titles like The Famous Five, they will be shown a verbal warning, according to The Telegraph.

The original versions are cataloged online and if a reader decides to access one, a warning system will remind them of the language used in previous editions.

Enid Blyton’s classic novels are beloved around the world, but some of her works have been rewritten to remove “outdated” language.

The changes were disclosed in Devon County Council documents.

It was explained that Library Unlimited, which runs the council’s library service, regularly audits the books and replaces them with altered versions.

The documents say that where popular titles contain “increasingly outdated” language, libraries buy new and edited versions.

The libraries’ off-limits area also contains books that have been withdrawn due to staff or patron complaints, such as the autobiography of Tommy Robinson, the formerly jailed founder of the far-right English Defense League.

Blyton composed more than 700 books, including beloved titles like The Famous Five series and Noddy, from the late 1930s until his death in 1968.

But publisher Hodder confirmed in 2010 that Blyton’s works would be updated to make them “timeless”.

In January of last year, Jacqueline Wilson rewrote The Magic Faraway Tree to remove ‘sexist expectations’ of female characters, replacing the girls’ chores with a lesson on gender equality.

And in February, Blyton’s Famous Five and Malory Towers books saw words like ‘brown’ referring to tanned faces, ‘queer’ and ‘gay’ changed to bring them up to date.

A description of ‘a brown-faced fisher-boy’ was ‘changed to a tanned fisher-boy’, while ‘Where’s George? She wants spanking’ became ‘She wants a good conversation.’

English Heritage published updated blue plaque information in 2021 which said that the Blyton reserve had been linked to “racism and xenophobia”.

Examples of ‘racism’ within the books include 1966’s The Little Black Doll, in which the main character ‘Sambo’ is only accepted by his owner ‘once his ‘ugly black face’ is ‘rain washed’ ‘, while in Noddy, ‘golliwogs’ was changed to ‘goblins’.

English Heritage now also cites Macmillan’s refusal to publish The Mystery That Never Was because of its “old-fashioned xenophobia” towards foreign characters.

Dr Byrn Harris, legal adviser to the Free Speech Union, told The Telegraph: “We are baffled by the decision to treat the author of Noddy as a dangerous and subversive samizdat.”

He asserted that libraries have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service, arguing that “withholding certain works and making them less accessible might not meet that standard.”

Dr. Harris also alleged that the reason the books were placed out of public view was of “dubious relevance”, despite numerous prior criticisms of Blyton’s works.

“If public libraries insist on having a censorship policy, users, especially children and their parents or guardians, should be clearly informed that library holdings may not be complete as a result of the policy,” added Dr. .Harris.

MailOnline has approached Devon County Council and Libraries Unlimited for comment.

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