Wednesday, 18 July 2018 Contact us

“My name is… Enid Blyton”

Jacqueline Wilson

TOWARD THE END OF THE BEGINNING…

Jacqueline Wilson.

Enough said really.

Two words… Goodness knows how many books.

And next to JK Rowling, probably one of Britain’s most successful children’s authors, though unlike Harry Potter’s creator, considerably warmer (Legal Disclaimer: I’ve always held a grudge against Ms Rowling since, watching her at the Royal Albert Hall answer a question from a child as to whether she herself believed in magic, replied ‘no’).

Anyway, Ms Wilson was… electric. Alive. And unbelievably charismatic, sitting in a Sheldonian Hall that, for added dramatic effect, was packed to the rafters with girls aged between four and 13.

Yet without any need for a microphone - at least none I could see - spoke effortlessly and engagingly about topics I know nothing about (Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather among them). However, such was her enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but think I might sneak a look at one of these characters in Blackwell’s one day.

Frail arms bedecked in bracelets galore - a nod to Edith Nesbit, the ‘Railway Children’ author she claims has been her life-long inspiration - she was open, friendly, and clearly the apple of everyone’s eye (even some parents looked like rabbits caught in headlights).

Without notes, and almost entirely ‘um’ and ‘er’ free, she weaved some wonderful tales about her own, modest beginnings.

Admitting most memorably that occasionally, when starting out as an author and finding herself introduced to strangers at parties who clearly had no idea who she was, felt tempted instead to introduce herself as Enid Blyton. Just for a reaction.

But, as you might expect, the real stars of this talk were the audience.

I don’t know if children and young teenagers today are any more intelligent than say… 10 years ago, but boy were some of their questions smart, savvy and on the money. So, courtesy of five or six young fans of Ms Wilson, here are a few revelations you might find interesting -

When she was younger and writing for magazines, she was appointed one publication’s astrologer, without knowing a single thing about the subject

The teenage girls’ magazine ‘Jackie’ was named after her

Of all the characters she’s created, she’d most like to meet Hetty Feather

*  Of all the characters she’s created, she believes she herself is most like Rosalind from her book ‘Four Children and It’

Her favourite time to write is early in the morning, after she’s been woken by either her cat, dog or both.

And, she doesn’t really know why the parents in so many of her stories… split.

For a novice to her world, it was, if nothing else, a tour-de force of personality and style.

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford HSBC Global banking partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner BBC World Service International radio partner BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner British Academy HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture Galileo Foundation Italian Cultural Institute Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Ian and Carol Sellars allmanhall Jane and Roderick Gibbs Lady Hatch Emily Rose and James Marrow George Warren Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Marshall Maserati Festival courtesy cars The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Eynsham Hall Royds Withy King Lawyers to the festival Intesa Sanpaolo Said Business School Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Corpus Christi College The Queen’s College The Queen's College St John’s College St John's College Jesus College Hertford College Exeter College Exeter College St Hilda’s College Keble College Keble College Oxford University Press Princeton University Press Oxford Brookes University Oxford Cultural Collective K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography Ashmolean Museum Floris of London University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Macdonald Bear Hotel Mary and Cecil Quillen The Oxford Artisan Distillery Conference Oxford Critchleys Liaison Financial Services The Litmus Partnership British Humanist Association The Sheldonian Theatre Felicity Bryan Associates The Royal Society of Literature Oxford University Museum of Natural History The Story Museum Oxford City Council City Audio Visual OX magazine

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival 2018 partners & sponsors

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford HSBC Global banking partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner BBC World Service International radio partner BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner British Academy HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture Galileo Foundation Italian Cultural Institute Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Ian and Carol Sellars allmanhall Jane and Roderick Gibbs Lady Hatch Emily Rose and James Marrow George Warren Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Marshall Maserati Festival courtesy cars The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Eynsham Hall Royds Withy King Lawyers to the festival Intesa Sanpaolo Said Business School Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Corpus Christi College The Queen’s College The Queen's College St John’s College St John's College Jesus College Hertford College Exeter College Exeter College St Hilda’s College Keble College Keble College Oxford University Press Princeton University Press Oxford Brookes University Oxford Cultural Collective K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography Ashmolean Museum Floris of London University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Macdonald Bear Hotel Mary and Cecil Quillen The Oxford Artisan Distillery Conference Oxford Critchleys Liaison Financial Services The Litmus Partnership British Humanist Association The Sheldonian Theatre Felicity Bryan Associates The Royal Society of Literature Oxford University Museum of Natural History The Story Museum Oxford City Council City Audio Visual OX magazine