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with BBC reporters visiting to find out more about the typescript Mr Tumpy’s Caravan, which we believe to be an early, unpublished novel by Enid Blyton.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of the Enid Blyton Society (who is an expert on Blyton’s published works), that we realised what we have is an unpublished novel.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.