Looking for something for all the family

Looking for something for all the family to do this Easter weekend? Come and join in with Julia Donaldson fun @7stories http://ow.ly/a6gHi

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“My child loved the Gruffalo and loved

“My child loved the Gruffalo and loved the dressing up and all of the books with the themed areas!” http://ow.ly/a6gb3

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Enid Blyton Fund for Seven Stories

We are thrilled to announce a new £¾m fund to benefit the work of Seven Stories, which has been founded thanks to the Enid Blyton Trust for Children.  Its Trustees have decided to wind up the Enid Blyton Trust for Children and donate its assets to set up a permanent fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. This fund will support the work of Seven Stories for years to come.

An Enid Blyton Trust for Children trustee explained their decision, “Seven Stories is a truly inspiring place. We know that we have made the right decision and believe that Enid herself would feel very happy with everything Seven Stories is doing for her, her work and for the children”.  This new Fund deepens Seven Stories’ connection with Enid Blyton and her outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Britain.  Grants from the Enid Blyton Fund for Seven Stories at Community Foundation will support our work to inspire more children from different walks of life to enjoy reading and the life opportunities that this brings.

The Enid Blyton Fund for Seven Stories has made it possible for us to have an endowment, which until recently was just a dream.  Though support from our public funders continues to be vital, our fundraising ambition is to grow our endowment to £5m, building a more secure future for Seven Stories and our mission to protect, share and celebrate our precious literary inheritance for children with generations to come.   We are very excited to be entering this new phase in our development, and we feel confident Enid would heartily approve of our mission!

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The Joy of Enid Blyton recording

The recording of our Joy of Enid Blyton event is now available to listen to online.  Just follow this link to access the recording. 

And if anyone has any problems accessing the recording, please do let me know – we haven’t used Sound Cloud before, so this is all a bit new to us!

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The Joy of Enid Blyton enjoyed

I must apologise for the long silence here on the blog – we have been a little busy over the last few weeks, not least with getting our new Anthony Browne exhibition up and running, and there was not much to report on the Enid Blyton front.

However, she was back at centre stage last week for our Joy of Enid Blyton event, with Anne Fine and David Rudd.  The event was a resounding success, with both Anne and David giving some fascinating insights into why they think Blyton has been such an enduring favourite amongst child (and adult!) readers.  There was also some interesting discussion prompted by questions from the audience.  This included some friendly debate about the revision of Blyton’s works for a modern audience, and some discussion about the use of Blyton in the classroom.  And, of course, what would an Enid Blyton event be without lashings of ginger beer, which was enjoyed by all!

The evening was recorded, and we are intending to make this recording available online for those who were unable to attend the event in person.  We will let you know as soon as this recording is available. 

It is likely that posts to this blog will become less frequent in the coming months, but we will continue to keep you informed of any interesting developments as and when they happen.  Our Behind the Scenes tours, which allow members of the public hands-on access to the Enid Blyton Collection, will continue over the summer months – visit the events pages on our website to find out more.  The collection catalogue, which includes images of material from the archive, is available to search online, and we welcome any enquiries from members of the public who would be interested in exploring the collection themselves.  And, of course, there’s always the Enid Blyton exhibition, planned for launch in October 2012, to look forward to!

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The Joy of Enid Blyton, with Anne Fine and David Rudd

Any Blyton enthusiasts out there might be interested in our Joy of Enid Blyton event, being held on Thursday 12th May at 6.30pm.  Anne Fine, award-winning children’s author and former Children’s Laureate, and David Rudd, a world authority of Enid Blyton, will be joining us at Seven Stories for an evening celebrating Blyton’s contribution to British children’s literature.  Anne and David will be discussing what the real Enid Blyton was like, and why her books were so popular not only in Britain but around the world.  They will also discuss why they think Blyton’s books have such an enduring popularity, and will welcome comments and questions from the audience.

We will also have material from the Enid Blyton Collection out on display, giving members of the public an opportunity to get hands-on with her typescripts.   Members of the collection team, myself included, will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about the material.   And, of course, there will be plenty of ginger beer on the go – what would a celebration of Enid Blyton be, without lashings of ginger beer?!

Booking is essential for this event – to find out more and to book your place, visit the events page on our website.  And remember, we are still running our monthly behind-the-scenes adult tours, which also allow hands-on access to the Enid Blyton archive.

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Collection catalogue now online

I am very pleased to announce that the Enid Blyton Collection catalogue is now live online, and available to search.  The catalogue can be accessed via our website and you can either do a free text search using her name, or the title of a particular book, or you can search using the collection reference EB.

All of our other collection catalogues are also available to search here as well, so do take some time to find out what other exciting treasures we’ve got in the archive!  And if anything takes your fancy, you can make an appointment to view material from the archive by emailing collections@sevenstories.org.uk 

Please do be aware that the archive is not located at the Seven Stories visitor centre, but is in offsite storage, and that access is by appointment only.

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Noddy and Big Ears BIG Picture

I couldn’t resist sharing these photographs from our Noddy and Big Ears BIG Picture event.  The event happened during half term, and involved visitors (of all ages!) in contributing to a life-size picture of Noddy and Big Ears.   

The result, as you can see, was fantastic!

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A word from our Chief Executive

As you may have gathered, last week was quite a week for us – we were overwhelmed by the public response to the discovery of an unpublished Enid Blyton novel, and were thrilled to see there is still so much interest in her work.  We are also delighted that so many people can see the value of the work we do here at Seven Stories, preserving Britain’s literary heritage and making it accessible to the public.

Our chief executive, Kate Edwards, said last week: “The international interest in this find has been overwhelming. It shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the value of our work to protect Britain’s literary heritage for children and to celebrate the creative lives of its authors. The Enid Blyton archive was in danger of being lost to the nation – we were only able to save it through generous grants and donations from people who understood the significance of our work, enabling us act quickly to purchase it on the nation’s behalf.

“We are quite a small charity that has taken on the massive task of building a national children’s literature Collection, which we protect and bring to life through exhibitions, events and learning activities for our young audiences. There are other important archives like this one, that are in danger of sold to private collectors. Anyone who cares about protecting them for future generations, and who believes in the vital and magical part that children’s books in childhood, can help us by making a donation or by becoming a Friend of Seven Stories.”

Given the huge public interest, the manuscript of Mr Tumpy’s Caravan is now on display in Seven Stories – if you’re in the neighbourhood, pop in to Storylab on Level 6 to take a peek.  And you can also find out more about the Enid Blyton archive, and see a selection of digitised images, on the new Enid Blyton page on our website.

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Mr Tumpy’s Caravan hits the headlines!

As some of you may have seen and heard yesterday evening, we have rather hit the headlines this week!  We had a very busy couple of days on Monday and Tuesday, with BBC reporters visiting to find out more about the typescript Mr Tumpy’s Caravan, which we believe to be an early, unpublished novel by Enid Blyton. 

There has been a little confusion from some Blyton fans, who know and love Blyton’s picture strip book Mr Tumpy and His Caravan, published in 1949.  There have already been a couple of comments on here on the subject.  The confusion is understandable, given the similarity in the titles – we assumed, when we first acquired the typescript, that it was simply a draft of the published Mr Tumpy and His Caravan.  It was only after more detailed examination of the typescript, and discussion with Tony Summerfield of the Enid Blyton Society (who is an expert on Blyton’s published works), that we realised what we have is an unpublished novel.  Not only is the format completely different from that of the published picture strip book, but the content is also completely different.  Enid had a habit of using similar, sometimes identical, titles for different stories and books, so it’s perhaps not surprising that she did so in this case.  She obviously liked the name Mr Tumpy, and decided to reuse it for the later work!

We think the typescript was written some time in the 1930s – the title page gives Blyton’s address as Old Thatch, a house she moved out of in 1938, so it was certainly written before that date.  It looks like a finished work, with a title page and contents page, and Blyton’s summary on the title page that it’s “a humorous children’s story.”  The typescript is fairly clean, with very few alterations or amendments to the text, which again suggests it was something she at least planned to send to a publisher.  We can only speculate, however, as to whether it was sent and rejected, or if Enid herself didn’t think it worth sending, and simply filed it away in a drawer.

To read more about the discovery, and see a few pictures of the typescript, visit the news page on our website.  You can see the BBC’s coverage of the story on their website.  And if you’re interested in seeing the typescript in one of our behind-the-scenes tours, you can find out more on our events page.

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