One of my favourite parts of the job is the hands-on cataloguing of archive material and original artwork. It is always such a thrill to open up folders of typescripts, files of letters or rough sketchbooks and to spend time looking through them, getting to know the material and the person who created it. It’s like a window onto the author or illustrator’s world, watching them at work. And when the author is someone of the stature of Enid Blyton, it is particularly exciting.
As the Blyton collection was purchased at auction, the material had been divided up into lots for the purposes of sale. This simply means that the whole archive – consisting of books, typescripts, original artwork, and other items (including some of Blyton’s fur coats!) – was split into smaller parts, or lots, and each of these was auctioned individually. In the case of most of the typescripts purchased by Seven Stories, one lot equated to a complete draft of one title.
However, not all of the lots were quite as straightforward as they seemed. What was identified in the sale catalogue as a draft of Five Go to Mystery Moor turned out to be a draft of The Circus of Adventure. There is a manuscript label in Blyton’s hand with the draft, stating “This is the original manuscript of Five Go to Mystery Moor“, and the preliminary pages (title pages, foreword and contents page) of the typescript are for that novel. But the rest is most definitely The Circus of Adventure. The fate of Five Go to Mystery Moor is itself a mystery!