Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Famous Five

Almost every child in the world has already heard of The Famous Five or read one of those stories or even seen them on a screen. This group of adventurous children is known in French under the name Le Club des cinq and has probably won many hearts, be they young or old.

The series initially comes from books. The books were written by an English novelist, Enid Blyton (1897-1968). She often used a pen name, Mary Pollock, and wrote some novels under it. From 1942 to 1963, she wrote one “Famous Five” story per year.

With her complete name, Enid Mary Blyton, she wrote exclusively for children, with the illustrator Eileen Soper’s help. Her career began with her first published book, a collection of poems, in 1922. She then wrote other books that also became bestsellers all around the world, and wrote a few pieces for magazines and newspapers as well.

She inaugurated her own eponymous society in 1995. Unfortunately, years later, many libraries and schools banned her novels because they considered that the nature of her writings was inappropriate. She received lots of negative reviews, in which she was accused of being elitist, sexist, racist and xenophobic.

The Famous Five is actually the name of a series of children’s books. Enid Blyton wrote twenty-one complete stories about the adventures of four children and a dog. They were translated in more than ninety languages. The stories are different from one book to another but the internal structure is always the same: Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina (who prefers to be called George) and Timmy, the dog, meet each other during the holidays, when Georgina goes to the house of her aunt (Aunt Frances) and her uncle (Uncle Quentin). They go camping or have a picnic and they get caught in an adventure when exploring the different places around which they live. the books relate everything they undertake to get out of trouble. At the end, “all’s well that ends well”. Those books were very successful and known by almost all the children in the world.
Indeed two TV series, both called The Famous Five, were based on the children’s books written by Enid Blyton. The first one was first broadcast in July 1978 and was produced by Don Leaver and Sidney Hayers. The second one, produced by John Price and Peter Murphy, first aired in September 1995. The characters of the most recent one were interpreted by Jemima Rooper (as George), Marco Williamson (as Julian), Paul Child (as Dick), Laura Petela (as Anne), Christopher Good (as Uncle Quentin) and Mary Waterhouse (as Aunt Frances). Both series were made up of twenty-six episodes in two series.

Thanks to the success The Famous Five met, the books have been adapted into various films, series, audio dramas, theatre (in order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s birth, a musical was created), video games, comics and other creations.

Eventually we can see that the series The Famous Five has had a huge impact on children: it is a real icon of Anglophone culture which is known by at least every child in England but also by the entire world.

Written by Juliette Fossion, Laure Himmer, and Melissa Machurot.

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