Hachette Children’s Group (HCG) is reverting to using the original Enid Blyton texts after attempts to modernise the language “didn’t work”.
In 2012 the publisher decided to give some of the texts a “sensitive reworking” but the decision did not go down well with fans, according to senior publisher Anne McNeil.
“Essentially we were looking at dialogue and making sure it worked for a contemporary audience. It was a very subtle change and thoroughly researched but proved very unpopular,” she told The Bookseller. “We thought it was a necessary step but it wasn’t. So we are reverting to the extant classic text.”
Hachette UK bought the Blyton estate from Chorion in 2012 and this year HCG c.e.o. Hilary Murray Hill announced the creation of Enid Blyton Entertainment to look after all projects relating to Blyton publishing and related merchandise, TV and film deals.
Next year Enid Blyton Entertainment is launching a campaign to promote the Famous Five series as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of Five on a Treasure Island and will release a series of new paperbacks illustrated by Laura Ellen Andersen. The new paperbacks will be released in May, each priced at £6.99.
“For the contemporary editions we are having just one version,” said McNeil. Hodder, a division of HCG, previously published the series with a different cover illustrator for each book but “what we’re doing now is have a single artist across the series so we create a really clear visual identity for children”.
“Our art director thought she epitomised the classic contemporary look. It’s harder than you think to get 21 covers with all the characters looking identical but she was able to do it.”
There will also be a box set of the books illustrated with the original artwork by Eileen Soper.
Other plans for Blyton include a series of Noddy titles next year alongside the Famous Five books, including sticker books, activity books and TV tie-ins. The publisher will then focus on Malory Towers in 2018, followed by the Secret Seven and The Naughtiest Girl series in 2019.
To find out more about HCG’s Blyton plans, click here to read an interview with McNeil and Alex Antscherl, editorial director of Enid Blyton Entertainment. You can also read bookseller Cat Anderson's blog about introducing Enid Blyton to new readers here.