THE MYSTERY OF HOLLY LANE


I'm going to write up this Mystery slightly differently. Why? Because as I say in the Secret Seven chapter that begins this website, in April 2012 I took a trip to Seven Stories in Gateshead and one of the things I did that day was take a quick look at The Mystery of Holly Lane typescript. Five years later, I plan to shine a torch on certain aspects of Enid's methodology.

620wide+2872871

Enid spells out her technique for writing in Chapter 15 of
The Story of My Life (1952). She sat down at the beginning of a book, cleared her thoughts, allowed the characters and their environment to emerge, and feverishly typed away, trying to keep up with the private cinema screen inside her head as the story unfolded. She reiterated this in the letters she wrote to Peter McKellar in the early 1950s, which appear as an appendix to Barbara Stoney’s biography. In both summaries, she emphasised that she didn’t consciously come up with the story nor do any planning.

I ordered copies of five pages from the
Holly Lane typescript that day and I can see they're going to be valuable to me today. For a start, I can see that Enid didn't have chapter headings to begin with, just chapters I, II, III, etc.. When she got to the end of the typescript, she clearly changed the ribbon, and with that new ribbon, typed the title of the book and the title of the first chapter on the first page alongside the previously typed and underlined 'Chapter I'. Of course, I could be wrong about that. You decide.

holly lane - Version 2

Actually, looking at it again, Enid may have just put on the chapter headings second time around, and then put the sheet in one last time, having gone right through the book putting in chapter names, and finally typed out the title of the book. I'm sure Fatty would be able to tell for sure by adding orange juice, or a warm iron. Alas, he's not available for comment.

Don't omit to read those first two paragraphs of the novel on the above typescript. Such a great start and all in ten seconds flat! No chance of Enid gabbling her typing, though. She was in complete control.

1. OFF TO MEET FATTY

The story starts in the Hiltons' house where Pip and Bets are keenly looking forward to Fatty's return to town from his boarding school which has broken up late for Easter. On the street they meet Daisy and Larry who are also off to the railway station to meet the leader of the Find-Outers. They go via Fatty's place to take him along, but to their surprise he's not there. Buster is already at the station awaiting Fatty's arrival, but when the train pulls in - no Fatty!

(Bets gobbling her porridge is the absolute highlight of this hectic opening chapter.)

2. A LITTLE BIT OF HELP

The Find-Outers think that Fatty is in disguise as a Frenchman, who wants directions to a house he pronounces as 'Grintriss'.

(In the typescript, Enid wrote 'Pintriss' the first couple of times, but changed it by pen and then went on typing 'Grintriss' thereafter. )

The Find-Outers decide to lead 'Fatty' to his own house. When they get there, the real Fatty comes up behind them and the Find-Outers realise their mistake. Goon too turns up to add to the confusion, but can't tolerate either Buster's attention or the Frenchman's way of talking, so he cycles off.

3. IT'S NICE TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN

Daisy realises the Frenchman has been saying GREEN TREES. So the Find-Outers are able to take him there, on Holly Lane,

560high+5127011

The Find-Outers then return to Fatty's house where Mrs Trotteville chats to them. On this page in the typescript, Enid makes a note by hand to the illustrator: 'Artist, please note that in this chapter Fatty has his overcoat on'. Strangely enough, Joseph Abbey makes no use of this information. Or at least there is no drawing of Fatty with his coat on. The image relating to an overcoat, relates to the Frenchman (see above) and though that scene relates to chapter 3, it can be found in the first edition in chapter 2. All a bit puzzling.

Anyway, Fatty needs to eat lunch on his own (one portion of steak and onions doth not a meal for Five Find-Outers make), but invites the others back for tea that afternoon, when they all meet up in Fatty's shed for a planning session.

(At this stage it's fair to say that the story seems to be going nowhere fast. Though, actually, things are being put into place. In particular, the Frenchman has been installed in the house next door to the house that becomes the focus of this Mystery.)

4. A FEW LITTLE PLANS

Over a super shed tea, it's decided that Fatty will find a way of making Goon buy a ticket for Daisy's Church sale. Pip will shadow Goon for part of the day. And Larry will have a go at cleaning someone's windows. (No jobs for the girls, it seems.) So the next morning Pip follows Goon, attracting Buster's attention along the way and ending up with Goon accusing Buster of sheep worrying.

5. FATTY ENJOYS HIMSELF

Meanwhile Fatty had disguised himself as a woman and gone to Goon's house. Here he meets a housekeeper and her son, Bert, before Goon turns up with wild tales about Buster's behaviour. Disguised (and disgusted) Fatty begins to read Goon's palm, but Enid decides she'd rather have this hilarious scene reported by Fatty to the other Find-Outers.

560high+4280578

6. A FEW REPORTS

Back in Fatty's shed that evening, Pip is first to report how he got on shadowing Goon. Then Fatty tells the rest how he fooled Goon, impressed him with his palm reading, and got him to buy two tickets for the Church Sale. The others laugh at the line that Fatty used on Goon: "I see a fat boy, a beeg fat boy" So Fatty milks it, as he did for Goon: ".... BEWAAAAARE of zis fat boy. There is some mystery here. But BEWAARE of zis beeg, fat boy!" All the Find-Outers find it hilarious. Surely, Enid's readers too. After that, Larry tells how he got on window cleaning at a bungalow. Basically, there was an old man in the front room. He seemed to be blind and he went around the room feeling the seats of chairs until finally satisfied that something was still there and returning to his wheelchair. Aha, the first sniff of a mystery!

7. WHERE IS BUSTER?

Fatty realises Buster is missing and a phone call from Goon to Mr Trotteville reveals that the dog has been locked up for chasing sheep (witnessed by Bert). Fatty puts on a disguise in his shed then cycles to Goon's house where, using ventriloquism, he scares Bert, unlocks Buster from Goon's shed and puts a big black cat in his place. Then he returns to his shed, locks Buster up in it and takes off his disguise.

8. MR GOON GETS A SHOCK

Goon is at Fatty's house talking to his parents about Buster. Mr Trotteville then takes Fatty in the car to Goon's place, but first Fatty finds time to phone Pip and ask him to fetch Buster and bring him round to Goon's house. Obviously what's being set up is Goon's humiliation. Bert is a jibbering wreck when asked about Buster's sheep-worrying, and there is no dog in the shed, just an unphased black cat.

560high+5273010

After having an ice-cream in town, Pip and Fatty meet the rest of the Find-Outers and Larry tells them that he needs to go back to the bungalow on Holly Lane to retrieve his cloth. So they all go and to their surprise they can hear the old man shouting for the police. Aha - that whiff of a mystery again!

(Enid made a few changes to the ice-cream in town scene and used two pinned paragraphs to put things right. I didn't take detailed notes at the time the manuscript was in front of me, so that's all I can say.)

9. THE OLD MAN IN THE BUNGALOW

The Find-Outers go inside and discover that the old man thinks that he has been robbed. He insists on the police being called, and continues to do so when his nephew, Wilfred, arrives. So Fatty goes next door (to Green Trees) and tries to tell Goon by phone that there has been a robbery at the Hollies on Holly Lane. Goon doesn't believe him and slams down the phone. Twice.

10. GOON TAKES CHARGE

Fatty has to phone the police station in the next town to get his call taken seriously. Meanwhile, the Find Outers are talking to the Frenchman who had not been well since arriving at Peterswood and from his place on the couch has seen much comings and goings at the Hollies. When Goon arrives next door and gets let in by Wilfred, the Find-Outers make their way home.

560high+9826918

As he's going home, Fatty is thinking hard about what the old man might have been doing the other night. Why he was feeling so many of the bits of furniture? Originally in the typescript, just before these thoughts of Fatty, was the following paragraph which Enid decided to omit. Worth noting perhaps as it's the only such cut (so far) from the original torrent of writing.

'PIp was the only one with a bicycle, and he made Bets get on the step behind so that he could give her a lift. Both he and Bets hated to be late for meals because their mother did not look kindly on unpunctuality.'

Seems fine so why get rid of it? One suspects that Mrs Hilton's house rules were partly based on Mrs Blyton's, and Enid may have thought she was getting a bit close to the bone here.

Goon then calls round on Fatty to try and get his opinion on the Mystery, but Fatty is cold towards him, not least because Goon's intentions had been so cruel concerning Buster.

11. TEA AT PIP'S

That afternoon the five meet at Pip's for a splendid tea. Buster disgraces himself by eating all his biscuits at once. They leave sharp at seven as another meal is about to be served at the Hiltons. The plan is for Fatty to take Buster out for a walk in the evening and fetch Larry's shammy leather which has still not been collected from the Hollies. In fact, Fatty falls asleep and it's nearly midnight when he wakes up and takes Buster out.

12. STRANGE HAPPENINGS

Fatty has a torch with him and when he gets to the Hollies he has a good look round the garden for the cloth. He can't find it so he climbs into the garden of Green Trees in case it's blown over there. While next door, he hear a vehicle stop and low sounds of people moving about and whispering. He can't work out what's happening. Once the vehicle has driven away, he shines a torch into the BACK room of the Hollies to check the old man is all right. Then he goes home, letting himself in through the garden door. In the morning, Fatty gets on his bike and cycles to the Hollies. He discovers Henri (the Frenchman) and Goon in the house. Apparently there was a break-in during the night and all the furniture was removed from the FRONT room. The old man had been very upset when he discovered this in the morning and had yelled the place down.

13 SUSPECTS - AND CLUES!

560high+9472872

Fatty manages to have a look around the house which is now empty, the old man having been invited to stay next door until his family who are based in Marlow can sort something else out for him. Then Fatty is invited into Green Trees and Henri the Frenchman gives him a list of people who had been to the Hollies in the lead-up to the theft of the old man's money. Before leaving the vicinity, Fatty also makes note of a tyre tread which he feels my have belonged to the car - or, more likely, van - that had taken away the furniture at midnight.

14. FATTY TELLS QUITE A STORY

At an afternoon meeting in Fatty's shed, he gets the others up to speed.

560high+9096715

Daisy drops in the info that the old man used to be an upholsterer, so he'd know how to make some kind of pocket in furniture. Larry makes four copies of the tyre tread. And the group discuss who is to do what as regards the six suspects.

The second half of the following paragraph is replaced by a retyped section, but simply because Enid had omitted the 'four', 'five' and 'six' in her original typing.

'Fatty turned to his list of six Suspects. He read them out. "One - Lady with papers or magazines, dressed in red coat, and black hat with roses. Two - window cleaner. Three - Grocer's boy, from Welburn the grocer's, red-haired and was in the bungalow quite a time. Four - man with bag, came in car with number ERT 100. Five - Well-dressed young man, who stayed for only a minute. And six - a young woman who stayed quite a long time."'

The chapter ends with the line 'Now who of all those six, was the thief?'

15. FATTY GETS GOING

Fatty returns to Green Trees to get more details from Henri about the suspects. Then he cycles to the vicarage to try and eliminate the first suspect. Sure enough, this turns out to have been the vicar's sister delivering the Parish magazine. Not guilty of making off with the old man's cash! Meanwhile, Goon is thinking that the middle-aged lady could have been the woman that read his palm, so he calls round at the Trotteville residence where she is supposed to be staying. Mrs Trotteville denies all knowledge of her and Fatty arrives in time to subtly humiliate Goon.

16. MOSTLY ABOUT WINDOW CLEANERS

Next morning, Fatty goes to interview the man who cleaned the windows at the Hollies (two days after Larry had cleaned them). He completely believes the man, who even offers Fatty a job. From there, Fatty goes to Pip's where the others are despondent because Goon has found the cloth that Larry used to do his window cleaning and the family name 'Daykin' was marked on the cloth. So Fatty goes round to Goon's with Buster in tow. While Fatty is explaining to Goon how he's tracked down the real window cleaner, Buster tears the Daykin evidence to shreds. The chapter ends: 'Mr Goon said the only thing he felt able to say - "Gah."'

In the typescript, that 'GAH!' is in capitals. And then Enid deletes the following typed line which she may have decided was unnecessary:

"GAH!" said Mr Goon, and shook a big ball of a fist in the air. "GAH!"

17. A TALK IN THE ICE-CREAM SHOP

Before meeting the other Find-Outers at Pip's place, Fatty buys a new leather for Larry to give to his parents. Pip is able to say that the grocer's boy delivered when Marian, the old man's granddaughter, was in the house, so he couldn't have taken any money. The granddaughter is also on Fatty's list of suspects though he doesn't really suspect her as she does so much good work for her grandfather. However, there is also Wilfred, Marian's cousin, who lives at 82 Spike Street, Marlow. Before they check him out, they decide to look out for the number plate ERT 100. No luck, until the very car is spotted in Larry and Daisy's drive. It's the doctor's car, so they strike him off the list as well. Leaving only Wilfred and Marian to be investigated, both of whom live in Marlow.

18. A CHAT WITH WILFRED - AND A SURPRISE

It's three miles to Marlow from Peterswood, so they cycle with Buster in Fatty's basket. It is indeed three miles to Marlow from Bourne End, and here's the map that shows the way along the A4155.

missing necklace_0003 - Version 4

Apparently, Spike Street leads to the river. Well, St Peter's Church has a spire and St Peter's Street leads down to the river, so let's take a look. First, the map which shows St Peter's Church in the middle...

Screen shot 2016-10-11 at 12.13.53

Then the walk down to the river...

Screen shot 2016-10-11 at 11.55.38

The book proceeds: "They could see no one. They came to the water's edge and stood there. Then Daisy gave Fatty a nudge. A boat lay bobbing not far off, and in it a young man lay reading, a rather surly-looking fellow in smartly creased grey-flanneled trousers and a yellow jersey." Could it be Sebastian Flyte? No, let's not get my Evelyn Waugh and Enid Blyton projects mixed up.

So the Find-Outers interview Wilfred. He tells them that when he was at his great uncle's house, Marian was there too and asked him to help put up the curtains that she'd washed and ironed. At which ridiculous request he'd walked off. It seems that Marian could provide an alibi for her unprepossessing cousin Wilfred, so the next thing is to try and talk to her. But the Find-Outers discover, when they call at the hotel where she works, that she's been missing for two days. Marian is a much-liked young woman and people, including her mother, are very worried about her. But it looks like she and the money have gone missing together.

19. AN EXTRAORDINARY FIND

Back to Fatty's shed that evening and a big discussion of the Mystery. After the meeting, the children bump into Mr Goon who tells them to look out for news in the next day's paper. The headline 'MISSING GIRL AND MISSING MONEY' depresses Fatty so he decides to go for one last look round the Hollies. He remembers that Marian washed and rehung the curtains and in handling them realises there is something funny about the side-hem.

560high+8949562

The money is there! Fatty realises that Marian must have sewn it into the curtain to make sure Wilfred didn't get his hands on it.

20. NIGHT ADVENTURE

At home, Fatty realises that Wilfred's family have stables, which means he has access to horse-boxes - and vans capable of moving furniture. Fatty is about to organise a search in Marlow when his own mother tells him that his grandfather is arriving for the day. So Fatty must patiently host the old man (whom he is very fond of) from 11am, when his train arrives, to 6 pm, when it departs. Then Fatty goes straight round to Pip's where the rest of the Find-Outers are, once again, brought up to speed. The plan is for Fatty, Larry and Pip to search the grounds of the stables after watching the film
Ivanhoe.

The next paragraph is a replacement:

'"Can't Daisy and I come?" asked Bets.
"No. This isn't a job for girls," said Fatty. You can't come to the cinema with us either, because
Ivanhoe won't be over til late - and you two girls can't wait about afterwards for us. We may be ages."'

As I say, these words are typed on a pinned section, replacing the original typed words. In other words, the distinctly non-feminist paragraph was an afterthought, only the fourth such altered paragraph in the book. How much the phrasing departs from Enid's original wording I can't say, as I didn't make a note of it.

The three boys cycle to Marlow where they watch the film and then get looking for horse-boxes. Eventually they find one which is preceded by a patch of mud with the right tyre tacks. Fatty is lifted up and can see that there is broken furniture in the vehicle. Someone cries out for help from inside the vehicle. Fatty knows it must be Marian. The following sentence is not found in the original typescript, but Enid added it later: 'Gosh, she has been locked up with the furniture.'

But did Enid add that by hand to the typescript, or was it added when she read the proofs. Alas, I didn't make note of that, I just noted that the printed words in the first edition were 'omitted in t.s.'.

21 MARIAN

560high+5593688

So with Marian's discovery, it's confirmed that Wilfred is the criminal. He wanted money from the old man to pay off debts. Marian wouldn't tell him where the money was hidden. In fact, she changed the money's hiding place just in case Wilfred got the info out of the old man or otherwise discovered it. Wilfred stole the furniture but couldn't find the money. So he locked Marian in with the furniture, telling her she wouldn't be let out until he let him know where the money was. The bastard! Woops, that was me, not Enid. Neither in typescript, not by pen alteration, nor in print first edition.

The boys take Marian to her home then go home themselves, Fatty getting them to agree to meet at the bungalow at half past ten the next morning. Fatty then rings the Inspector from home and drops a few hints that he should turn up with Goon at the bungalow, also at 10.30am.

22. QUITE A PANTOMIME

In the front room of the Hollies, Fatty is in complete control. He reveals the money. He reveals that he has traced the furniture. He gets Marian to step forward from the back room. His luck even holds when Wilfred turns up hoping to search for the money one last time. The inspector is delighted. Goon is stunned. The book ends with the Superintendent treating the Find-Outers to ice-cream and macaroons.

To her own mind, Enid doesn't get the final paragraph just right. If you just read the TYPED words in the original typescript you'll see her first finish.

holly lane_0001 - Version 2

As you can see from the above, Enid made ink alterations to her typescript, getting rid of the ambiguous word 'Five'. She wouldn't want readers to think Famous Five on the last page of a Five Find-Outers book. But she must have decided that her hand-written alterations might not be absolutely clear to the printer, so she obligingly typed out the corrected version, trimmed it down to the right size of paper, and pinned it over the original page.

holly lane_0002 - Version 2

In summary, the typescript of
Holly Lane is very clean. The over-pinning business only happens five times in the whole book.

After going through the novel, and typing chapter headings onto 22 pages of the original typescript, and pinning freshly typed paragraphs onto five pages, Enid then created a Contents page from scratch, with the still fresh ribbon, listing all the chapter names in one column. There are a number of written marks on the page which are a printer's instructions to himself, I think. Which means, of course, that Enid sent off the amended typescript to her publisher/printer and must have got it back from the publisher/printer along with the proof copy of the book itself, which it would have been her responsibility to read through.

But at the end of the typing process, Enid did a significant thing. She typed out another page which she called the foreword. This reads exactly as it does in the first edition, even down to the fact that it's signed. So when she signed the foreword, IT WAS LIKE A PAINTER SIGNING HIS OR HER FINISHED WORK. Which makes it all the more of a shame that Enid's daughter Gillian threw away so many of the original typescripts of her mother's books.

holly lane

Enid hadn't always signed the typescript. The first three Mysteries don't have forewords.
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters foreword appears as it does below in the first edition, because Enid wouldn't have signed her name on the foreword of the typescript, just typed it. At least that's what I would surmise.

holly lane_0001

The first of the Find Outers book to have Enid's signature in the foreword of the first edition is the eighth book,
Invisible Thief. By which time she was putting more effort into her forewords:

holly lane_0002

I expect an actual signature was on the typescript, but we don't know for sure, as it seems that her daughter, Gillian, may have thrown that valuable bundle of paper away. Bye-bye thousands of pounds. Bye-bye precious information about just how smooth Enid's first type-through was, and where exactly Enid's conscious mind decided on the odd edit.

You know what Enid should have done? She should have learned a trick from her own character Marian and sewn the forewords to all her Famous Five, Mystery, Barney and Adventure books into the side hems of curtains at Green Hedges. Gillian would have had as much chance of finding them as Wilfred would have had of working out where his elderly relative's cash was hidden. Not that that would have saved the forewords. On Enid's death, Eric Rogers, the family's business adviser, saw to it that Green Hedges was destroyed.

Eric Rogers: "That should put paid to any manuscript pages signed by Enid, wherever the bitch hid them."

But I digress to a purely imaginary scenario. Let's get back on track. Examination of early editions reveals that from the eighth Mystery onwards, the forewords have Enid's signatures and all manage to mention Goon:

Vanished Prince: 'Mr Goon is on the job too, trying very hard, but not quite keeping up with Fatty.'

Strange Bundle: 'Mr Goon is busy too, and how he wishes that Fatty and the rest would keep out of his way!'

Tally-Ho Cottage: 'Mr Goon, as usual, finds that Fatty and the others are a great nuisance to him as he too, goes about trying to solve this most remarkable mystery.'

Holly Lane: 'Mr Goon is trying hard too, and finds that Fatty and the rest are very much in his way.'

Missing Man: 'The mystery is a very curious one, and Mr Goon the policeman, gets in Fatty's way - and Fatty is a nuisance to Mr Goon too!'

Strange Messages: 'Ern, Mr Goon's nephew, is here too, and as usual he is a great annoyance to his short-tempered uncle.'

Banshee Towers: Actually, Enid didn't manage to produce a foreword for this novel, possibly because her amazing powers were on the wane by then, and this was one of the subtle signals of this sad state of affairs. There is simply a list of previous titles in the series which I imagine an editor put together to be consistent with the earlier books. Naively, I had thought that this was Enid's publisher, Methuen, letting her down towards the end of her career. Now I see that it was Enid's own incredibly high standards faltering.

Apart from
Holly Lane, there are (at least) two other Mystery typescripts in existence...

Viking Star (Rob Canniff), a member of the Enid Blyton Society, in fact the EBS member who, along with me, put a lot of effort into tracking down the likely location of Fatty's house in Bourne End, bought the
Tally-Ho Cottage manuscript when Gillian Baverstock's 'Enid Blyton Archive' came up for auction in 2010. I have asked him if the foreword is indeed signed. I'm sure, if he has got my message, Rob will let me know.

The Enid Blyton Society itself owns the typescript of
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince. Tony visited Gillian around 1997. During the course of the visit she opened up a large cupboard and showed him a large quantity of typescripts from various series that she had. Tony asked Gillian if she could donate one or two carbon copies to the Society as she had such a large number and she readily agreed but told him that she would sort some out. It took two years and numerous reminders for Tony to actually get them, but she gave the Society one each of several major series apart from the Secret Seven of which Gillian could only find one typescript.

Gillian didn't actually move house for a few years after this and it was then that she told Tony in one of their phone conversations that she was having a major clear out as she was downsizing in the move. She told him that apart from a few examples, which she had kept for herself, she had thrown away all the typescripts. Tony was absolutely horrified and told her so, but she replied that they were of no value as they were only carbon copies. These were Enid's own file copies and all had any alterations on them, normally in blue pen. The ones that Gillian had kept were sold in the auction after her death and mostly bought by Seven Stories.

OK, so thanks to Tony Summerfield's friendship with Gillian and his alertness, EBS came to own the typescript of
Mystery of the Vanished Prince. Tony has had a quick look through it and observes that there are a number of alterations throughout. He goes on to say:

'What makes it a bit different from some of the other things that I have (some of which have many alterations with new bits pinned over the original) is that this appears to be a top copy and not a carbon copy. The signature is there on the foreword page, but even under a magnifying glass I can't tell if it is handwritten (it is in black whilst all her other writing is in blue) so I can't tell if she wrote it or whether she had a stamp with her signature and simply printed it on.'

That makes me ask myself the question: was the typescript of
Holly Lane that I scrutinised at Seven Stories a carbon or a top copy? Well, as I said about the contents page, it's a top copy that has been sent to the printer, worked on by him, and returned to the author, not a carbon copy.

Tony's reply makes me ask myself another question: Is the signature on the typescript of
Holly Lane an actual signature or a stamped one? Well, given the importance of what she thought she was doing - signing off her latest masterpiece - I'm pretty sure it's an authentic signature. Tony will be able to tell us if the signature below is identical, or not, to the one on the Vanished Prince typescript.

holly lane - Version 2

I know what that suddenly reminds me of. The way another genius used to sign off a piece of work he thought was 'finished' and that he was particularly pleased with:

CfB4dPCVAAA8EzC




POSTSCRIPT

Rob Canniff who bought the typescript of
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage when it came up for sale in 2010 (following Gillian's death in 2007) has kindly sent me a scan of the foreword to that book. This is clearly the copy that went straight from Enid to the printer as it has her instructions in blue ink and his instructions to himself in pencil. Superficially, it's a messier document but the mess doesn't obscure it's great interest. Enid's words beside the list of Find-Outer books are Printer, please set the words indicated by " " " ". A bit over-explicit? No, I don't think you can be too careful. It's just possible she'd had dealings with idiot printers in the past,though in my experience such people are practical and sensible.

The other words Enid's written are... Well, take a look for yourself:

IMG_6908

I must admit I came close to laughing when I first saw the 'signature'. I had been building up the psychological importance of it - Enid signing off her latest masterpiece. But in the event, nothing could be more mundane: a printed name and the instruction that a facsimile signature should be used.

IMG_6908 - Version 2

The only other extant typescript foreword is that for The Mystery of the Vanished Prince. Tony Summerfield has already told me that even with the use of a magnifying glass he isn't able to tell if the signature on the foreword in his possession is real or made from a stamp. Really? Why would Enid use a stamp when she could more easily write her own name? Perhaps because using a stamp would be easier than typing her name in capitals and then writing by the side 'facsimile signature'.

I feel I could do with some help here. Yes, I feel I could do with some help from the cleverest boy in Peterswood.



THE MYSTERY OF THE PRINTED SIGNATURE

Fatty heard a knock on the door of his shed.

"Come in you lot."

In trooped the rest of the Find-Outers, delighted to be in Fatty's company again.

"I'm in the middle of an unusual mystery, but I'll try and get you up to speed."

"Oh good," said Bets, patting Pip on the arm.

"Can't wait," said Larry, smiling at Daisy.

"Look here, then."

"Your collection of Enid Blyton Mystery books?" observed Pip.

"Yes, and there's something funny going on. "

"Something funny?"

"In the way that Enid Blyton has signed her name in them."

"Oh, has Enid Blyton signed your copies, Fatty?" said Bets. "How wonderful."

"Not really. These are just printed signatures at the foot of the forewords. Look. There weren't such printed signatures at all until
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief, which came out in 1950."

"Oh, I remember that one," said Bets. "Didn't the baker have big feet?"

"No, he had big shoes," said Daisy, smiling.

"See here," said Fatty pointing.

The rest of the Find-Outers looked at the bottom of the page as directed by Fatty.

enid signature

"Now compare it with the signature on the next book,
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince."

"Shall I do my funny voice, Fatty? The one I did when I was Princess Bongawee."

"Just look closely, Bets. And the rest of you. There's a magnifying glass for every one of us. This is the serious stage of the mystery. "

enid signature_0007

"Just the same isn't it?" said Larry.

"It's not as dark," said Pip, without much interest.

"Let me show you the next one,
Mystery of Holly Lane."

"Oh, lovely Marian," said Bets.

enid signature_0002

"Oh, I think I get it," said Pip, blinking hard after straining to look through his magnifying glass. "The same name-stamp, or whatever it is, is being used each time but it's not being cleaned from year to year. So the bit of dirt that's bunging up the inside and bottom of the 'd' in Enid, and at the bottom of the 'n' in Blyton keeps cropping up."

"Well spotted, Pip. It's the same again in
Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage."

enid signature_0003

"Oh, that is a messy one!" said Daisy. "The two strokes are quite joined together. But I see what you mean. The 'd' and the 'n' are still not clean."

"
Mystery of the Strange Bundle is better. But my copy is quite light so I can't say for certain. Mystery of the Missing Man confirms that the name-stamp has been cleaned. But look..."

enid signature_0005

"What are these smudge marks under Blyton?"

"Exactly Bets. And does the printer clean up his act before printing off thousands of copies of
Mystery of the Strange Messages?"

"I bet he doesn't."

"He does not!"

enid signature_0006

"So what's the mystery, Fatty?"

"The mystery is where did this name-stamp, or whatever it is, come from? How widely was it used? What happened to it in the end? And where is it now?"

"Sounds like a pretty grown-up mystery," said Bets.

"More suitable for a middle-aged librarian starting to spend a bit too long in his shed," commented Larry, dryly.

"Will it do to be going on with?" asked Fatty, slightly exasperated. 'That is the question."

"Yes," came the faithful answer from four young mouths. Plus a "yip," from Buster.

"Okay. Here's what we'll do. You lot will go home and research the use of the name-stamp in your Enid Blyton collections. Pip you have all the Adventures., don't you?"

"Of course."

"Larry, check out your old Secret Sevens."

"Oh that's going back a few years for me. But it'll be a pleasure."

"Daisy, you check out the Famous Five. Careful with them, I think they might be tricky."

"What about me, Fatty?" asked Bets.

"You have a free hand, Bets. There are lots of other Blyton books. Check 'em out!"

"And what about your good self?" asked Larry.

"Oh don't worry about me. I've got an enormous lunch to eat. And I have a notion that I might drop a clue in front of Mr Goon about what we're up to. See you back here at four o'clock sharp."

2

It was an excited group of Find Outers who met up again at Fatty's shed later that afternoon. Everyone was holding a pile of books and the first thing they did was find a clear spot in the shed where they could temporarily park their load.

"Shall we deal with the Adventures first? What's your report, Pip?"

Pip moved the three books he had with him to the table top that Fatty indicated, and began to speak. "As with the Mysteries, there was no copy signature used until 1950."

"I think we can use the word 'facsimile'. Yes, Bets?"

"Sure, Fatty," said Bets, glad to be reminded how to pronounce the awkward word.

"Carry on, Pip."

"1950 was when
The Ship of Adventure was published. See its foreword."

They all looked.

enid signature_0001 - Version 2

"I love Kiki," said Bets.

"That's not the point," Fatty reminded her. "The point is that the facsimile signature is not the same as the one used in the Mysteries. The stroke through the capital 'E' for Enid is further down in the letter and is longer, so that the 'n' is a long way from the 'E'.

Everyone responded to that. Pip waited for the others to stop speaking before saying himself: "Enid wrote a 2-page foreword for
The Circus of Adventure. And the facsimile signature has two strokes below it.

By this time the find-outers were using their magnifying glasses.


enid signature_0003

"That's more like the signature used in the Mysteries, but it's still not the same," observed Fatty. The bottom loop on the 'B' is very different for a start."

Again Pip had to wait until everyone had their say. Then he opened the last book and said: "The signature on
The River of Adventure is exactly the same as in Circus."

enid signature_0002

"What does it mean, Fatty?"

"I think it means that the publisher of the Adventure series, MacMillan, copied a genuine signature of Enid's into metal when they were setting up the typing blocks for
The Ship of Adventure. But for whatever reason they set-up a different signature the next year. Perhaps because Enid requested it."

"Are you sure it was done in metal? I know the rest of the page would have been typeset..."

"What's that?" asked Bets.

"The printer uses tweezers to place all the fiddly little lead letters in rows on his 'pages' from which all the paper pages are printed."

"Oh, I see."

"But is it not possible," Larry continued, "That the signature part was transferred to the page photographically?"

"Well, I'm not sure," admitted Fatty. "But what we were observing re the little black spots around the Mysteries signature certainly reminds me of the same problem you get with metal typewriter keys which have to be cleaned regularly if you want a crisp, clean, letter of ink pressed onto the paper."

Fatty wandered to the back of the shed and came back with a book. "The signature on the Adventure stories are a bit like the signature on the foreword of
In the Fifth at Malory Towers, which was first published in September 1950. (1950 again, note!) Those of the previous Malory Tower books that have forewords just have Enid's name printed in capital letters. Anyway, here it is:

enid signature

"It's not quite the same as the signatures in the Adventure stories. But it's certainly not very like the same as the one in all the Mysteries."

"What about the signature in
Last Term at Malory Towers."

Fatty admitted that he only had that book in a paperback edition that omitted the foreword altogether.

"Does anybody have it in hardback?" asked Pip.

Heads were shaken all round.

"It seems to be quite a rare book," said Fatty. "Anyway, I'd already made a note to follow up on that one." And as he said this, Fatty picked up his bag and from it extracted a sheet of paper.

"What's that?" asked Larry.

"Nothing less than the actual sheet upon which Enid Blyton typed out the foreword to
Last Term at Malory Towers!"

"Wow!" said Pip.

"How did you get hold of it?" asked several Find-Outers at once.

Fatty shrugged. "It's only three miles to Beaconsfield. While you lot were busy at home with your bookshelves, I cycled over to Green Hedges, sneaked in the kitchen door, made my way to the study and soon found out where Enid stores all her typescripts in a big cupboard. Each is in a named bundle. Enid knows they are very valuable and that one day her children will inherit them. Selling them for large amounts of money, no doubt."

"Let's see," squealed Bets.

"Ignore all the pencil marks," said Fatty. "They've been made by an editor or printer."

Together they looked.

Screen shot 2017-10-11 at 19.53.51

Each of the Find-Outers raised their magnifying glass and considered the signature. Bets had been given the smallest magnifier and the view she got was a bit blurred:

Screen shot 2017-10-11 at 19.57.25

"Funny," said Fatty. "Even with a glass I can't tell if that's a real signature or a facsimile."

"Are you joking?" asked Pip. "Of course, it's real."

For a full minute, everyone admired the sheet of paper with its genuine signature of Enid Blyton. They had a really good look because Fatty told them he'd have to put it back with the rest of the typescript within a few days.

"This is good though," he went on. "We're building up the picture. What have you to report about the Secret Seven, Larry?"

Larry pointed to the large pile of books he had brought along and said rather sadly. "I don't know where to start."

Fatty helped him out. "These came later than some of the other series, so I expect as soon as the books needed forewords, that is by the third or fourth title, these would have been given Enid's signature."

"Oh, that's right, Fatty. That was what I was about to say!" Larry went on more comfortably. "But it's not easy, because although I have all the books, they're not all first editions. See here for, example.
Secret Seven on the Trail is the fourth book and it came out in 1952. This is the third impression, printed in 1955. So the foreword includes two more books that wouldn't have been on the foreword as it appeared in 1952."

They all looked to see what Larry meant.

enid signature_0007

"How nice, the signature is in colour!" said Bets.

"I expect that means the page was first run over a typeset page with all the printed words, then run over a page that just had the signature set up," said Fatty.

"That looks like the same signature used on the Mysteries, but not the Adventures," observed Pip.

"Wait a minute. Lets not jump to conclusions," said Fatty. "Any more to show us, Larry?"

"This one was first published in 1960, and this is the first edition. So, on the foreword, the previous eleven books are correctly listed."


enid signature_0006

Pip took up the analysis: "From what you said, Fatty. That paper page would have been pressed against a metal page set with all the small printed letters, black ink being transferred onto the paper. Then the paper would have been pressed onto a metal page containing only 'Secret Seven Society' in big letters and Enid's signature, green ink being transferred."

"To tell you the truth," said Fatty, "I'm a bit vague about the technical side. But let's see these signatures one above the other and under the magnifying glass."

enid signature_0007 - Version 2enid signature_0006 - Version 2

"Looks like exactly the same signature set-up has been used," said Daisy

"Hang on," said Pip. "What's that red writing faintly visible beneath the green?"

"Ha!" said Fatty. "Some child reader has shown his or her fascination with the signature by echoing it. Then someone - perhaps the same child grown a little older - has tried to erase the handwritten effort."

Fatty seemed lost in thought. Suddenly he pulled himself together and asked. "What have you got for us, Daisy?"

"The Famous Five coming out of my ears!" Daisy brought five books to the newly cleared table-top and plonked them there in a pile.

"Larry and my Famous Five collection isn't as good as I thought it was. We've got copies of all the books, but some of them are later editions and as time went on, Enid's signature seemed to crop up everywhere. Painted on the spine and the front of the dust-cover. Printed at an angle onto the actual fabric of the hardcover, in the bottom corner. And printed twice on a page encouraging readers to join the Famous Five Club!"

"Oh, dear," said Bets, sympathetically.

"But in the end I got somewhere by putting all the other signatures out of my mind and just concentrating on the foreword."

"Good girl," said Fatty. "That's what a scientist would do. And we Find-Outers are really scientists."

"Except when we're too hungry to be that."

"Or too intent on running rings round Goon."

Buster started to bark at this. Suddenly the shed was full of barking and shouting which helped to let off a bit of the tension that was building up.

"Let's calm down," said Fatty. "Go on, Daisy. Tell us what you've found out."

"Here's the foreword of
Five on Kirrin Island Again. This came out in 1947. And although this is a fourth impression from what we're discovering is a special year, 1950, you can see there is no signature, just the printed name."

enid signature_0013

Daisy then turned to them all and frowned. "I'm afraid I don't have an old copy of
Five Go Off To Camp."

"I expect it's unsigned," said Fatty. At the moment, we're assuming that forewords weren't signed until 1950."

"Well, the eighth book,
Five Get Into Trouble, came out just before that, in November 1949, and the foreword was signed as we can see."

enid signature_0010 - Version 2

"Quite a different looking signature."

"Yes, the stroke through the 'E' is much further to the left," said Fatty. "And the 'B' doesn't come very close to joining up with itself."

"The same signature crops up the next year as well."

enid signature_0009 - Version 2

When the others had all had a look, Daisy went on. "Now you're going to be disappointed with me, Fatty, as I don't have an older copy of the tenth book, Five on a Hike Together. But in the eleventh book, Five Have a Wonderful Time, first printed in 1952, the foreword looks like this."

enid signature_0011 - Version 2

"That's very close to the signature we're already familiar with. I'm betting that the next one will be similar," said Pip.

"You're right, Pip," said Daisy. "Here it is."

enid signature_0012 - Version 2

"OK let's try something," said Fatty. "Let's put together a signature from the Mysteries, one from the Secret Seven and one of those later Fives. To see if they are the same. Can we do that?"

Daisy, helped by Pip, soon had the books set out so that the pattern could be focussed on. Five young eyes helped by magnifying glasses.


enid signature_0007
enid signature_0007 - Version 2
enid signature_0011

"Now, leaving aside differences in how the ink has been taken up because of how clean the set-up is, and how much ink has been sloshing around, can we see any differences between these signatures?"

"I can't," said Daisy.

"Nor me," said Larry.

"Nope," said Pip.

"Fatty, they're the same!" said Bets.

"So from 1950, the Mysteries were using the signature that Enid had clearly authorised. Once the Secret Sevens got going, they used the stamp from the start. Hodder and Stoughton were a bit slow with the Famous Five, but by 1951 or 1952 they were using the standard signature. MacMillan continued to do their own thing on forewords, never adapting their Enid signature to the standard. But there's another book that helps tell the story and that's
The Story of My Life, Enid's autobiography that came out in 1952.

Fatty produced the book with a flourish. He showed that the standard facsimile was punched gold ink on red cloth on the cover. He opened the book and there was the facsimile 'Enid Blyton' on the contents page. He turned back a page and there it was again on the title page.

enid signature_0017

"This book is really a long letter to Enid's child readers. Literally. So it starts off like this on page 5:"

enid signature_0018

"Then on the last page, page 124, the book finishes like this:"

enid signature_0019

"Obviously that is a 'real' signature. And I would say for sure that it's not been set up in the same way as the type, more like the way a drawing would have been set up for printing. In fact, Enid has a double-page in the book called 'HOW ONE OF YOUR BOOKS WAS MADE'. When talking about a picture, she says:
'The negative is printed on to sensitised metal plate and etched with acid, one plate for each colour in the printing process.'"

"Etched with acid?" mused Pip.

"I know, it still doesn't make things crystal clear," said Fatty. "But what is clear to me is that the actual signature is really quite like the one used in the foreword of
In the Fifth at Malory Towers and in the forewords of the Adventure books. So although Enid favoured a particular version of her signature, -the standard facsimile, let's call it - and used it all over the beginning of The Story of My Life. She also respected the freshness of slight variations, and where she thought it appropriate, preferred that to be used."

Suddenly, Bets piped up: "Oh Fatty, I've suddenly realised. It all goes a lot further back than 1949 or 1950."

"What makes you say that?" asked Fatty.

Bets was holding in her hand her oldest and favourite book,
Adventures of the Wishing Chair.

"Hmm.
Wishing Chair was published in 1940 by George Newnes," said Fatty. "Let's see it, Bets. Open up."

"Wow! I see what you mean," said Pip.

The Find-Outers all stared at the page with the signature, reading it from top to bottom.


enid signature_0015

"Gosh, I think that's the same signature we were focussing on," said Larry.

"Let's have a close look," said Fatty. "Raise your glasses for the Queen!"

enid signature_0015

"It is the same! The same 'Enid Blyton' we love so much."

"Of course!" said Fatty suddenly. "The Preface mentions
Sunny Stories which she was editing since the 1920s. And in that fortnightly magazine she wrote a letter to children every issue. I'm sure I have a few of the little orangey-red-covered things somewhere in this shed."

"Somewhere in this summerhouse." said Daisy.

"Somewhere in this pamper station," said Larry.

"Ah, found them. My oldest is from April, 1941. So that's just after
Wishing Chair came out. Here, look... Oh, and read it. If I remember rightly, in this one Enid mentions her actual children, Gillian and Imogen."

enid signature_0016

"Lovely," said Bets.

"The signature is a blur," said Pip.

"That's partly cos the paper is cheap and rough," said Larry.

"And too much ink has been used," was Daisy's contribution

"Oh, we're all expert printers now are we?" smiled Fatty.

"Tell me, Fatty. Why did the Blyton family leave Peterswood again?" Bets wanted to know.

"Enid was married to a man called Hugh Pollock. He didn't value the life that he had with Enid and their two young girls. He preferred to booze alone in a cellar of the house, Old Thatch. So Enid decided to save what she could of the paradise she'd created and took her little girls the three short miles to Green Hedges in Beaconsfield. Where she carried on writing glorious books and being their mother while being married to someone else."

"Are Gillian and Imogen still playing in the garden at Green Hedges?" asked Bets, frowning slightly. Were they there today when you cycled to the house?"

Fatty didn't know what to say. The word 'TIME 'grew large and dark in the forefront of his mind. And a word of five letters, beginning with 'D', looked as if it was going to eat 'TIME' alive.

There was a noise from the garden. Someone breathing heavily and trampling shrubs underfoot. "Ah, here's Mr Goon, bang on cue," said Fatty, opening the door of the shed before Goon could pound his fist on it. "Tell me Goon, did you used to be an apprentice printer at
Sunny Stories?"

Everyone laughed. Everyone except Goon, of course.

"Now look here," Goon said, once the children seemed calmer. "I received a note earlier this afternoon. Pushed through the letterbox at the station, it was. Thing is, it was completely blank. Luckily, I'm not exactly stupid, so I ran a hot iron over it. And... well, I've never been so insulted in my life! See here... Take your time in reading it. It took me about five minutes."

Screen shot 2017-10-11 at 21.51.15

As soon as they saw it, the Five Find-Outers burst out laughing and Buster started barking his head off.

"Who is this Enid
blooming Blyton? asked Goon. "Obviously, a mad woman who should be locked up. And I'm just the man to do that. Lock her up and throw away the key to the cellar. See if I don't."

Receiving only facetious answers to his question, Goon soon left the shed and trudged up the garden path, his every movement betraying a sense of hopelessness.

Fatty felt sorry for him. Perhaps he would write Goon another letter in which wonderful Enid would be just a bit more... well...
understanding. He might even sign it off in an honest and straightforward way using the time-honoured facsimile. A true cultural icon if ever there was one..





Acknowledgements:

Internal illustrations from the original Methuen edition of
The Mystery of Holly Lane are taken from the Cave of Books on the Enid Blyton Society website, which is the work of Tony Summerfield.

Thanks to Google for the use of their mapping facilities.

Thanks to Seven Stories for enabling public access to the typescript of
The Mystery of Holly Lane.

Thanks to Viking Star for the scan of the foreword of
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage.