Tuesday, 1 March 2016

All About: Cars

With this month's post on transport, we are celebrating one of the most popular and recognisable cars in children's books, that belonging to Noddy! 


"The sun is shining
And so is my car,
It's a beautiful morning, 
How happy we are,
Parp-parp-parp"

Extract from the typescript for Cheer Up, Little Noddy, 1960

Although Noddy's little car didn't make its appearance until the second Noddy book, Hurrah for Little Noddy, published in 1950, it became inextricably linked with the character from then on. 

Noddy receives his car in dramatic fashion - foiling a car theft by some naughty goblins. He is gifted a car as a reward by the very generous mechanic Mr Golly, who only claimed a penny each from the thieves! He is the maker of Noddy's new career; throughout the rest of the Blyton's Noddy books, of which there are many, many incarnations, Noddy is the Toyland taxi driver. His car becomes crucial to his adventures; it is how he gets around to see all the other toys, brownies and fairyland creatures and it introduces many car mishap plot lines.

Noddy's car has also been central to some of the biggest debates around Blyton's work. In the fourth book, Here Comes Noddy Again, one of the most controversial scenes is played out;  Noddy is driving through a dark wood when his car stolen by Golliwogs. The artwork and text were amended in later editions (c. 1990), to replace these characters with white skinned goblins, which caused even more debate.

What does Seven Stories hold?


A photo taken the day the archive arrived here at Seven Stories © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books
Seven Stories holds the most substantial archive of Blyton's work in any public institution. We have a wide variety of material from much of her career, and plenty on the Noddy books themselves.

Typescripts - We have original typescript drafts for Noddy in his many formats from books, plays and recordings. Included are a draft for Cheer Up, Little Noddy (the twentieth book in the original series), 'Noddy and Naughty Amelia Jane' from the 1958 Enid Blyton Story Book, and Enid Blyton's Noddy Happy Families Game. None of our Blyton typescripts show much development work, she seems to have been a very focused writer with her typescripts being almost identical to her final books. 

We also have drafts for short stories and a Noddy in Toyland play.  

You can see some pages from Noddy transcripts on our Collection Highlights page.


Illustration - We are home to the first ever colour drawing of Noddy. For obvious reasons, his car isn't featured! We also hold other illustrations by Noddy's first illustrator, Harmsen van der Beek, two of which feature the car - in one only the nose is visible as it sinks in to a pond. You can explore our online exhibition Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts - The Many Adventures of Enid Blyton to find some of the images. 

The cover artwork by Peter Wienk for Noddy Goes to Sea (1959) also shows the car playfully splashing through water

In 2012 Robert Tyndall, who took over illustrating Noddy from van der Beek, donated a sketchbook for Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle. This was a new classic style Noddy picture book, written by Blyton's grand daughter, Sophie Smallwood.

'Noddy and Naughty Amelia Jane' (1958), for which we hold a full suite of artwork features the car heavily as Noddy picks up Amelia Jane from the train station in his taxi.  The artist for these images is unknown. 

Plays - As Seven Stories is also home of the well known playwright David Wood, we hold material relating to his mid 1990s stage play Noddy. Manuscript and typescript drafts form part of the collection, as well as a large series of correspondence about the play. The letters include some discussion about the portrayal of the more controversial characters in Toyland.

Articles - In 2011 the author of The Blyton Phenomenon Sheila Ray donated her research and correspondence around Blyton to Seven Stories. Part of this was a hugely helpful treasure trove of newspaper cuttings, which shows how British attitudes have shifted and changed towards the author, and Noddy, over a number of decades.

Noddy on Tour

This post also brings news that you can see Noddy's car on display in our Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts, the Many Adventures of Enid Blyton exhibition, on display at Scarborough Art Gallery from March 25th - June 26th 2016. This is the very last outing for this exhibition after an exhaustive tour around the country. The exhibition was originally displayed in Newcastle for a year, and then travelled to The Beaney in Canterbury, and then to Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery during 2015.


Toyland - Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts, the Many Adventures of Enid Blyton. This photo was taken in 2013, when the exhibition first opened to the public at the Seven Stories visitor centre in Newcastle. Photo © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books
Finding out more

Enid Blyton's Collection is one of our most significant holdings, and we have plenty more material  to explore. When the archive was first purchased, our archivist at the time, Hannah Izod, wrote about the cataloguing process on a special one off blog. To find it, click here

When the exhibition opened at Seven Stories, we also launched a special digital exhibition, which provides access to images of all the exhibition content, so you can see it in plenty of detail online if you can't make it to the exhibition in person. To find it, click here.

And of course, we have written about it on this blog too, to find previous posts, click here.

If you'd like to find out more about the Seven Stories Collection, then 
email: collections@sevenstories.org.uk or phone: 0191 495 2707 or comment on this blog.


The purchase in November 2014 of Noddy artwork and typescripts for the Seven Stories Collection was made possible thanks to our Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ grant. This has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature. For more information on our HLF Collecting Cultures project see: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/news/latestnews/hlf.




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