Was there ever an author who came in for such vilification as this lady? For some, she wasn’t even a real person but a pseudonym covering a group of American commercial authors. Well no, she was very real, she was English and she had troubles becoming accepted.
You can say I’m showing signs of senility, you can say what you like but I loved her stories about Noddy and Bigears along with Awdry’s Thomas the Tank Engine, Ransome’s stories and others.
So it was annoying to see read how the BBC had blocked her for so long:
A memo about a short story stated: “Not strong enough. It really is odd to think that this woman is a best-seller. It is all such very small beer.”
Another simply said “reject”.
Head of the BBC schools department Jean Sutcliffe said in an internal memo dated 1938: “My impression of her stories is that they might do for Children’s Hour but certainly not for Schools Dept, they haven’t much literary value.
“There is rather a lot of the Pinky-winky-Doodle-doodle Dum-dumm type of name – and lots of pixies – in the original tales.” She added that they were “competently written”.
In a memo to a BBC producer she wrote: “I and my stories are completely banned by the BBC as far as children are concerned – not one story has ever been broadcast, and, so it is said, not one ever will be.”
I like the stereotypes and though they don’t suffice for adults, they are more than useful for children who like things to be “just so”. If the police today could be anything like Mr. Plod, it would be a much happier place and there’d be a whole lot more trust.
Of the Secret Seven, Keith Robinson reviewed it in 2006, saying:
There’s not a whole lot of characterization, but just enough to see the characters as different people.
Well, most of them anyway.
Peter is the leader, proud of his Society and a little pompous and arrogant about it. Janet is his sister, and quite a decent sort of sister too; not like Jack’s annoying sister Susie, who is not a member and never will be.
Jack, in my opinion, is a nicer guy than Peter, and second-in-command (that might be my assumption in this first book, but later in the series he is “left in charge” while Peter is at the cinema).
Wiki lists many of the later controversies over her work, where the PC brigade got their claws into her and had her works banned from libraries and expurgated. A case in point is The Three Golliwogs and if you’ve ever read it, the black children are the heroes, not the villains.
Don’t even start me on the PC mafia.
Where the PCists should have looked instead was at her personal life, her ambition, her relationship with her husband and children and in her rank commercialism.
This is treated in a drama, starring Helena Bonham-Carter, to be screened on BBC4 tomorrow, November 16th.