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Charles Stewart cover of 1963 Armada edition.


It's autumn, 2016, not fifty years ago, as the above image might imply, and I've two things to say about this time of year.

First, I wrote eight of these Bourne End Forever pieces in summer and autumn of 2012. I wrote two of them in autumn of 2013. And now, after a three year gap, here is an analysis of the eleventh (the fifth that Enid Blyton wrote) of fifteen Mysteries. If I carry on at this rate, my mind will have gone by the time I get to
The Mystery of Banshee Towers. Just as Enid's mind had gone (or was beginning to go) by then.

Second, though I've written most of these pieces in the autumn, none of Enid's books are set in this mellow season of fruitfulness. Why not? Because the long school holidays are at Christmas, Easter and summer. And its during those times - winter, spring and summer - when mysteries need to be solved in Peterswood.

Here is how
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace begins: 'Pip and Bets sat in their garden, in the very coolest place they could find. They had on sun-suits and nothing else, for the August sun was blazing hot.'

Four of the Mysteries take place in high summer. I've already written about
Disappearing Cat, Invisible Thief and Vanished Prince. After Vanished Prince, which was only the ninth Mystery written, Enid never returned to Peterswood in the summer. Perhaps she didn't feel she could reach that high note again. Anyway, because I'm not writing these pieces in chronological order, I'm just glad I've still got one summer story to celebrate, The Mystery of the Missing Necklace, which ought to have been called: Fatty, Master of Disguise. Perhaps that is what the title was in German!

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Such a bold cover the first German edition of 1954 was given. It looks as if the artist has come straight from designing the cover of a Franz Kafka novel. By the way, the German title is an accurate translation of
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace. No tricks with the title have been played on this occasion.

If my preamble seems time-obsessed, listen to Pip in the book's second para: '"A whole month of the summer hols gone already!" said Pip. "And except that we've been away to the seaside for two weeks, absolutely nothing else has happened. Most boring."'

Things soon start to happen when the rest of the Five return from their seaside hols. There is a fair in town with hoopla, dodgems, a roundabout and a waxwork show. Where in Bourne End is Enid thinking about as the location for this funfest? Well, she keeps repeating the same information. Page numbers are from the first edition:

P.19: "...as they went over the level-crossing to the river-side, where the side-shows were."

P.20 "...a train came thundering in at that moment and the porter had to run to open and shut doors and see to the luggage. The children hastily left the level-crossing and ran down to the river.

P.20. 'They came to the side-shows, which made a kind of Fair alongside the river road.'

Now Enid was writing this book three miles away, in Beaconsfield, probably in 1947 as the book was published on November 27, 1947. But it was from 1929 to 1938 that she was exploring Bourne End on a daily basis. Luckily, one of the maps I have was 'fully revised' in 1930, with the roads updated in 1947. So iI suspect it can be relied on to show the scenario that Enid was conjuring up both in her own mind and, most importantly, onto the page.

In the map below, the red dot by the triangle of roads in the centre of Bourne End is the station. The railway line coming in from the left is the Bourne End/Marlow branch line. Trains would
not have thundered along there. Any thundering of trains would have been on the main line which sweeps from the south towards the east and then the north. There is no level crossing to the south east of the station, because no railway line. So Enid is locating the Fair along the north bank of the Thames, between the railway lines and the river. Got it?

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Fatty has told the others that he will be somewhere around the fair in disguise. But before getting there, on the Main Street of the village they see a man shuffling towards them. He is stooped and wearing old boots. Straggly beard, shaggy grey eyebrows. Dirty. Old coat. Corduroy trousers tied up at the knees with string. Joseph Abbey drew this for the first edition in 1947.

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Joseph Abbey illustration

Mary Gernat, illustrating an early paperback edition twenty years later, waited until the old man had sat down before drawing him.

"That's Fatty! I know it is!" said Bets, is one line from the book. But the illustrator pulls out another line, one from Larry


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Mary Gernat illustration

Mary Gernat's line is so much more fluid than Joseph Abbey's. She loves drawing the Find-Outers. He finds it almost impossibly hard work. Anyway, the old man is not Fatty. But Fatty disguising himself as this deaf, smoking, nose-wiping old man will be an essential motif of the book and an important plot device.

Anyway, the Find-Outers take a look round the fair, wondering if everyone they come across could be their leader. In particular, they visit the waxworks museum which includes models of Napoleon, Nelson, Queen Elizabeth, Walter Raleigh and Winston Churchill. Just a random list of historical celebrities? Not quite. Winston Churchill's history of the First World War was being edited by Hugh Pollock, Enid's first husband, when they lived together at Old Thatch in Bourne End.

The Fattyless Find-Outers enjoy a tea during which they demolish 24 cakes between them. (How many would they have got through if Fatty had been with them?) Then they go down to the river itself to seek out a cool breeze. It's there that they come across an old woman selling balloons. Bets is impressed. Enid tells us: 'She looked at all the gay balloons, swaying gently in the breeze, and couldn't make up her mind which one to buy. The reds were so nice and bright, the greens were so pretty, the blues were like the sky, the yellows were like sunshine - oh, which should she have?' Joseph Abbey has a stilted old go at capturing this scene. Indeed, the very moment when Bets realises that the woman selling balloons is, in fact, Fatty.

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Joseph Abbey illustration

It's a lovely moment. The little girl aware of just how much the older boy can give her. For now Fatty is giving Bets beautiful balloons. Later in the book, Fatty will give Bets - and we readers - the full waxworks experience. But for now let us be content with the scene-setting gift of uplifting balloons.

Below is a diagram showing the location of the fair (those coloured balloons) in relation to the Find-Outers homes. From left to right, Pip and Bets place, Fatty's house and Larry and Daisy's. The locations of which are more or less clearly demonstrated in earlier efforts within Bourne End Forever.

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And below is the middle of town in some detail. Because the action alternates between the Fair and the main street, which is now called The Parade.

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Fatty's next disguise is as the deaf, smoking, nose-wiping old man. Ragged, grey beard, check. Shaggy grey eyebrows, check. And when he's sitting on a bench in the middle of the village, someone mistakes him for the old man who normally sits there. This man wants to know why the old man is sitting there in the morning rather than the afternoon. Is something wrong?

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Joseph Abbey illustration

The Find-Outers realise that the old man could be a means of members of a gang of robbers getting messages to each other without ever being seen together. (A bit contrived this. But it achieves what Enid wants. An excuse for Fatty to dress up as a tramp and bamboozle Goon.)

Fatty tricks the old man into not appearing for three afternoons, and takes his place on the bench. But Goon is unusually up to speed in this mystery, and when the other Find-Outers go to the 'lemonade shop' to keep an eye on the bench where Fatty sits in disguise, they discover Goon dressed in plain clothes sitting in the shop doing the same thing.

Fatty and Goon in disguise...benches...the other Find-Outers looking on... It's reminiscent of a scenario from that subsequent summer Mystery,
Invisible Thief. On that occasion, the Find Outers don't recognise Fatty in disguise on the bench, but do see through Goon's identity. One at a time they approach the bench and ask him a question. Pip asks him the time. Larry asks for change for sixpence. Daisy asks if the bus to Sheepridge stops there. And Bets asks if Goon has seen their little dog, Buster.

But let's stick to
Missing Necklace.

Disguise overview: Fatty's first disguise is as the balloon woman. Then he's the old man. Then he's the balloon woman again. And I can illustrate this using the cover of the 2003 paperback, designed by Jason Ford.

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On this third occasion the rest of the Find-Outers and Goon are in the café keeping an eye out for the old man. When Goon has to go and answer a call at the back of the shop, Larry shoots outside and tells Fatty the coast is clear. Fatty - in the form of the balloon woman - takes the opportunity of telling the old man not to bother turning up for the next three afternoons.

So the next afternoon but one, Fatty is disguised as the old man. Goon is dressed in plain clothes again, ostensibly reading a newspaper, keeping watch from the 'sweet shop'. First Larry is in there, drinking what Goon describes as an 'everlasting lemonade', then the other Find-Outers in turn. But no-one approaches Fatty with a message.

On the main road in Bourne End, directly opposite the former site of the police station, there is a cafe called Lee's Bakery.

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It was there in 2012 as well, as the image below shows..

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Why am I including these modern images? Someone on the Enid Blyton Society Forums once wrote that Bourne End was a dump these days. In fact, any horror or delight is in the eye of the beholder. Old men being passed messages by thieves in front of lemonade-sipping kids and clodhopping cops will be going on now, just as much as it was going on in Enid's day!

Was Lee's Bakery there in the 1930s and 40s? Well, I don't suppose it was. But there are/were plenty benches along this street on the other side of the road. And opposite one of them there would have been a bakery cum sweet/tea/lemonade shop. And didn't Enid just love to pass the time of day there, watching the world go by, absorbing details that her under-mind would one day work on in order to come up with a Find-Outers story.

The next day (which we're informed is September 8, though still designated as summer as the boarding schools were not yet back), is a repeat. This time Fatty (as the old man), with Goon and Larry looking on from the café, is handed a cigarette that he hopes will contain a message. Fatty makes off with it and Goon tries to intercept him, but instead catches the real old man who has decided to go out for an afternoon stroll (he was only warned off from sitting on the bench). Goon puts the old man in the cell. Then, when Goon bumps into Fatty (dressed as the old man) when looking for Larry at Pip's, he arrests the second identical old man. Fatty, who by then has revealed to the Find-Outers the secret message written on the cigarette paper (by rubbing it with a warm iron) reveals his identity to the astonished Goon in order to get out of the police cell he's been taken to. Fatty then tells Goon everything that has taken place and hands him the cigarette paper, though without revealing its secret message.

And what is the secret message? That the thieves would be meeting at nine pm in Waxworks Hall on Tuesday night.

So Fatty decides he will take the clothes from the Napoleon waxwork and take its place. This is big moment, recorded by the book's illustrators on several occasions. It's almost as if there were two different camera angles on the same scene!

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Charles Stewart illustration………………………………………Mary Gernat illustration

Bets is a bit puzzled:

'"Do you
want to look like Napoleon?" said Bets in surprise. "I don't think he looks very nice really. And I don't like those men that go about thinking they want to conquer the whole world. Napoleon must have been very brainy, of course, and you're brainy, Fatty. But except that you're fat and brainy, I don't see that you're very like Napoleon."'

I should say a little more about the illustrators. In 1947, Joseph Abbey produced nine internal illustrations for the book. In 1963, Charles Stewart was commissioned to draw six for the first paperback edition. All his compositions were new and very sixties. Four years later, Mary Gernat's six illustrations superseded his, and these are the best because of the fluidity of her sketching. (Mind you, Charles Stewart's Armada cover, seen at the top of this page, evokes summer childhood superbly. Rodney Sutton also illustrated the book for a 1991 edition, but these were all copies of the Mary Gernat and may have been done for copyright reasons.

On the night of the meeting, Fatty dresses up as Napoleon, and is in a great position to overhear what the gang of thieves say to each other. Trouble is, Goon has worked out what the secret message says, and so he turns up as well. He takes the place of the policeman waxwork standing behind Fatty. Which is fairly easy for him to do as he's already dressed for the part!

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Joseph Abbey illustration

Napoleon is the third of three great disguises that Fatty inhabits in the pages of Missing Necklace. First, the balloon woman. Second, the old man who sits on the bench. Third, Napoloen Bonaparte, Emperor of France.. How does he bring off such very different people? - honestly, they have nothing in common with each other!

This third disguise has been imperiously captured by Timothy Banks for his 2016 cover for Hodder/Hachette.

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So what happens? Goon and Fatty both overhear the thieves plan to steal a string of pearls from a local house, Castleton Mansion. Goon sneezes towards the end of the meeting, but it's Fatty who the thieves discover as a result. Fatty gets tied in a curtain and bundled into a cupboard.

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Joseph Abbey illustration

The thieves go off to do their robbery. Goon goes off to thwart them without letting Fatty out of the locked cupboard.

Goon does go back to let Fatty out at midnight, thinking he's foiled the robbery. He discovers that the cupboard is empty. That's because, partly thanks to Bets, Larry has been along and let Fatty out.

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Charles Stewart illustration

But in the morning, the Find-Outers make Goon suffer by coming up to him one after another and asking Goon if he's seen Fatty, as according to them he's gone missing.

Later, the inspector gives both Goon and Fatty a lecture for their reckless behaviour, and lets them know that, though most of the thieves have been caught, one hasn't been, and that the pearl necklace is missing.

Fatty and the Find-Outers return to keep an eye on the old man in the middle of town. And, in fact, he does liaise with the remaining thief, gross incompetence on the Find-Outers part preventing them from tidying things up there and then. Why don't they read what's been written on the ground by the old man with his stick?

However, the Find-Outers are led back to Waxworks Hall by the remaining thief and it is Bets who realises that the pearl necklace around the neck of Queen Elizabeth is the hiding place for the real thing.

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Joseph Abbey illustration

So what about the pearl necklace around the neck of Queen Enid in the photo below? Could it be that the photo was taken in 1947, the year that
Missing Necklace was written, and that Enid was sharing the denouement with her daughters? (The photo and those that follow appears along with many others in The Story of My Life, published in 1952, but the photos may well have been taken before then.) That's Gillian on the left of her mother and Imogen, being smiled at warmly, on her right.

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Let's recall that when the first Find-Outers book was published in 1943, Bets was said to be eight and Daisy twelve. Gillian was born in July 1931, and so she was almost exactly twelve when the book was being written, and, at four years younger, Imogen was eight. The beginning of family holidays in Swanage kick-started the Famous Five books. The pleasure in writing the first Famous Five book, plus Gillian going off to boarding school at Godstowe, seems to have prompted the Find-Outers series.

It's quite touching really. Three times during
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace Bets is shown to be especially fond of Fatty. First, when realising Fatty is the balloon lady. Second, in describing him as fat and brainy like Napoleon. And, third, in worrying that something serious may have happened to Fatty the night he was going to spy on the thieves disguised as Napoleon.

It suggests to me a special relationship between Enid and her younger child, Imogen. Adult Imogen does speculate in an article called 'Our Books are Facets of Ourselves', published in the
Enid Blyton Society Journal, following a talk that was given at the 1989 Enid Blyton Day, that Enid was effectively Fatty in the Find-Outers books. She says: 'Is Enid not disguised as that master of disguise, writer in codes; that arrogant French-speaking boy who plays endless tricks on stupid authority, in other words Frederick or Fatty?' I think Imogen is correct. There is no-one who can touch Fatty's cleverness. Just as Enid could run rings around everyone thanks to her quick brain, her imagination and her stamina.

So, decoding Fatty dressed as a balloon woman offering different coloured balloons to Bets, what do we have? A mother simply drawing attention to the beautiful mystery of life to her daughter. Nice one, Queen Enid, infinitely touching.

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Who do you see in the next photo? Enid, Fatty or the balloon woman? Bets or Imogen? Or all of them, thanks to one of them?

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Let's turn from Bets to Daisy. Daisy has almost nothing to do in
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace. Larry, Pip and Bets all play an active role in the Mystery, but Daisy just seems to plod along, making up the numbers. Though she is sharp in the bicycle shop. When the sales assistant says he's got a great memory, Daisy immediately asks if he can remember the three people who have bought hooters that week.

If Daisy is derived from Gillian, as the dates suggest she is, then what is going on?

I think this is actually quite complicated. And to explain it I have to introduce the Malory Towers series. It was when Gillian, who had been boarding at Godstowe just six miles from home, went to Benenden on the Cornish coast in September 1945, that Enid felt motivated to begin the Malory Towers series. By January 1946, Enid was already writing the second of the Malory Towers books. We know this because in Gillian's diary, she writes:

Friday, Jan 25, 1946: ‘I read as far as Mummy had got with second book of Malory Towers.’
Tuesday, Jan 29, 1946: ‘After tea Mummy finished Malory Towers, which I read.’

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With Enid writing Gillian a lot of letters in 1946 and 1947 to try and help her settle into the intimidating new school, maybe it was a bit much to ask her to inject much energy into the portrayal of Daisy. No, that's not quite how I think it was. As I try and show in the Malory Towers section of this website, it was in
these books that Enid was effectively providing advice, guidance and inspiration for Gillian.

Okay, let's leave it there.

But hang on a minute, Gillian wants to say something about the end of
Missing Necklace.

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Gillian: "Mummy why don't you make it Buster, not Bets, that discovers the whereabouts of the pearls? After all, he gets to do even less than Daisy in the book."

Enid: "Darling, you're right. Poor old Buster. One badly neglected dog. Laddie, get your paw off my pearls!"

Imogen: "Oh, no, Mum, please. Let it be Bets who tells Fatty where to look. You are the balloon woman after all, you can make anything happen."

Enid: "Can I make happiness happen?"

Gillian: "Yes! By writing a note saying that there is to be another meeting at Waxworks Hall. 'Every boy or girl is invited. Please come as a tramp, a balloon woman or
a mad dictator.'"

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There we must leave the Darrell Waters' household aka Green Hedges. One badly neglected dog. Two badly neglected daughters. Somebody should have called in social services, they really should.

Actually, let's have one more image. Chrissy has just been on the forums on the Enid Blyton Society to say she likes the images at the end of the piece. I suspect she means the two composites. So I think I can get away with adding a third. I want to, because tonight I just noticed that though the underlying photograph (see below) was taken by George Konig in 1949, the Find-Outers book at Enid's feet (the one leaning on the largest book in the pile, which may be an
Enid Blyton's Holiday Book) is The Mystery of the Missing Necklace from November 27th, 1947. How do I know? Because I am familiar with the original dustcover and I have forensic instincts.

Anyway, here it is. Enid flanked by Fatty (in disguise, checking out what she's writing) and Bets (think Imogen), by hydrangeas (is it?) and balloons (courtesy of Joseph Abbey). What more could you want?

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Note that the typewriter is on the floor. Enid has finished her latest typescript and is writing out a grocery list. Fair words butter no parsnips. Her family must eat!

"More butter," suggests Fatty.









Acknowledgements: Internal illustrations from the original Methuen edition of
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace 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.

Note: If any copyright holder wishes an image to be removed from this page then they should contact me and I will do as they ask.