EBD herself
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#1: EBD herself Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 6:34 pm
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I've been meaning to put this on the board for some time, but with my Olympic gold standard of procrastination, I've only just got round to it.

What can we deduce from the books about EBD's personal likes and dislikes? What were her strengths and her weaknesses?

For example, she makes a great deal of fuss about sea-sickness in the Guernsey books, especially when the ferries sail past the Casquets. Was she prone to seasickness herself, or was it jsut a device to make the books more exciting, and emphasise the rarified nature of her heroines?

#2:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:22 pm
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I would guess she wanted to marry, but of course she was part of the generation of women who missed out due to the First World War.

#3:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:33 pm
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Hmmmm, none too sure just how accurate this would be - I mean, can you deduce a person's character from what she writes? Wink


I think she had very idealised thoughts of the perfect type of family - perhaps because she grew up in such an unusual one. And, for her time, she had some very forward thinking ideas. Her thoughts on first aid and caring for the sick seem very strange now - but I think becasue we cannot envisage a world without antibiotics.

#4:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:00 pm
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She was obviously keen on history. A most admirable character trait, if I may say so Wink Laughing ! I would assume that she was not keen on maths (I can sympathise with that Laughing ). Maybe she was also rather obsessed with grammar, and placed a high value on good manners?

Then there are the frequent references to religious matters, which obviously fit in with what we know about her own life.

I'd love to know if any of the main characters were based on people she knew.

#5:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:08 pm
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I gather that Matron Webb was. And the RL person was given a copy of the book too!!

#6:  Author: lindaLocation: Leeds PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:37 pm
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EBD's obsession with English grammar is not so different from the way most of my teachers were in the late 50s, early 60s. Particularly the use of things such as 'can' and 'may'. Also forbidden was the use of 'slang' words, although we were not fined for this, sometimes lines were handed out if we did not speak like 'nicely brought up young ladies'!!!!!! How times have changed.

#7:  Author: Joan the DwarfLocation: Er, where am I? PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:47 pm
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I get the impression that it wasn't so much that she was obsessed with grammar etc per se, but that she felt a big responsibility in writing for young people. Unlike lesser writers in the genre, however, she realised that if all her characters spoke perfectly then it would be the world's biggest turn-off for her readers. So she balanced this by using devices: whenever a character spoke ungramatically it's commented on, either by the author, or by another character, or by the character thinking it's good that X didn't hear! The anti-slang crusade is an excellent device as it means that slang can be incorporated but always commented on (X gets fined or nearly misses one and thinks phew).

So: she was conscientious, and took schoolgirl lit very seriously. I think that's also apparent in the many and varied careers that she presents via Chalet girls (whether or not interrupted by marriage).

#8:  Author: KBLocation: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:03 pm
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Lesley wrote:
Hmmmm, none too sure just how accurate this would be - I mean, can you deduce a person's character from what she writes? Wink


*lol* Of course! The best way to understand a person is to look at what they write. Characteristics that appear in main characters are almost certain either to be a major factor in the life of the author or to be what s/he wished to be.

So bad luck, Lesley... Wink

#9:  Author: LesleyLocation: Allhallows, Kent PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:15 pm
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KB wrote:
Lesley wrote:
Hmmmm, none too sure just how accurate this would be - I mean, can you deduce a person's character from what she writes? Wink


*lol* Of course! The best way to understand a person is to look at what they write. Characteristics that appear in main characters are almost certain either to be a major factor in the life of the author or to be what s/he wished to be.

So bad luck, Lesley... Wink


Considering some of my main original characters - I'd say bad luck on everyone else! Wink Laughing

#10:  Author: Laura VLocation: Merseyside PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 11:09 pm
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she was also probably keen on amateur dramatics, hence the huge descriptions of the Christmas plays and that chapter in Exploits that goes on and on and on....

#11:  Author: MelLocation: UP NORTH PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 11:49 pm
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She had very definite views on the upbringing of children, especially instant obedience, early bed, fresh air, milk and plain food (otherwise they would become bilious). I think she used her books as a platform for lots of her theories that she repeats again and again.

#12:  Author: EmerenceLocation: Australia PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:58 am
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I often wonder at her definition of plain food, though!

#13:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:10 am
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Yes, itís fine to take a plate and help yourself to a selection of cakes (following the delightful continental custom) but if you eat more than two apples youíll need dosing with castor oil!
I know which of apples and cakes makes me feel worse.

#14:  Author: SquirrelLocation: St-Andrews or Dunfermline PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:39 pm
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I'd have been highly dozed daily then, seeing the amount of fruit I can go through in a day... Cakes don't really interest me all that much I must admit.

#15:  Author: MiaLocation: London PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:52 pm
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She really was very musical. I'm reading The School by the River at the moment.

#16:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:22 pm
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She obviously thought that Continental ways and things were better, though she is keen to emphasise that it is an English school.

#17:  Author: RobLocation: Currently in a rainstorm PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:57 pm
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Jennie wrote:
She obviously thought that Continental ways and things were better, though she is keen to emphasise that it is an English school.


I wonder if she actually thought they were better or just more interesting to write about? Laughing

The Peace League is interesting to consider in this context. I wonder if EBD had continental friends living in Europe during the war - as many of the Chalet girls did?, or if it was merely an admirable and very considered sentiment - particularly considering that Exile was published during the war! It was certainly a different approach to the UK(and Allies)-centric approach which was often seems to have been prevelant during the war.

Unless EBD was a German spy/propagandist ... Laughing

#18:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:20 pm
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Rob wrote:
Unless EBD was a German spy/propagandist ... Laughing


*cough*DRABBLE*cough*

#19:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:42 pm
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Mel wrote:
She had very definite views on the upbringing of children, especially instant obedience, early bed, fresh air, milk and plain food (otherwise they would become bilious).

This list sounds remarkably similar to the newfangled approach advocated by Dr. Alec in Eight Cousins (Alcott, 1875). That doesn't mean it had gone by the wayside quite yet in EBD's time, though. For example, according to the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook,
Quote:
Milk is the most nearly perfect food. One quart of milk should be included in your diet each day. You do not have to drink it all, for you may get part of it in creamed soups, breads, pastries, puddings and ice cream.

#20:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:45 am
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I would guess that she had wanted to get married, but that she actually had little personal experience with romance and courtship, as well as little day to day experience with very young children.

She probably wished she spoke multiple languages fluently, but had only school-girl French and a smattering of German.

She disliked popular (rock, jazz) music, and preferred classical composers.

Sickness and frailty were a major influence on her life - the way doctors are held in reverence and awe and are authorities on everything, the emphasis on frail children and the need to fend off serious illness, the number of girls of delicate health, the dire effects of minor over eating or getting chilled, the TB sanatorium and so on.

#21:  Author: Mrs RedbootsLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:16 pm
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Kathy_S wrote:
For example, according to the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook,
Quote:
Milk is the most nearly perfect food. One quart of milk should be included in your diet each day. You do not have to drink it all, for you may get part of it in creamed soups, breads, pastries, puddings and ice cream.


Milk was considered to be very good for you throughout my growing years, and even beyond. When my daughter was born, in 1980, pregnant women were expected to drink about a pint (that's about 450 ml) every day, and it was practically required when I was in hospital. I do not care for milk very much, and had as little as I could get away with!

(Off-topic, sorry!) Actually, back then, the one thing all the books agreed on was that pregnant women should eat liver each week - I understand that now it's the one thing you aren't supposed to eat! And when I was little, eggs were really good for you, then they became really bad for you, and now (thankfully) they're good for you again!

#22:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:54 pm
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Mrs Redboots wrote:
Kathy_S wrote:
For example, according to the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook,
Quote:
Milk is the most nearly perfect food. One quart of milk should be included in your diet each day. You do not have to drink it all, for you may get part of it in creamed soups, breads, pastries, puddings and ice cream.


Milk was considered to be very good for you throughout my growing years, and even beyond. When my daughter was born, in 1980, pregnant women were expected to drink about a pint (that's about 450 ml) every day, and it was practically required when I was in hospital. I do not care for milk very much, and had as little as I could get away with!


I'm fairly certain that pregnant women are still advised to drink lots of milk. Actually in the UK, the Department of Health give free milk to pregnant women with low incomes (found that while googling!).

In fairness though, unless you are allergic or lactose intolerent (the vast majority of Western Europeans aren't as we have a genetic mutation) milk is actually quite good for you. It is one of the main sources of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

#23:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 9:23 pm
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In the Sixties, every pregnant woman got a free pint of milk a day. And free dental treatment during pregnancy, and for a year afterwards, and free prescriptions.

#24:  Author: LulieLocation: Middlesbrough PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:11 pm
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Even if you're lactose intolerant you can now buy lactose-free milk, which has been treated with an enzyme to remove most of the nasty poisonous lactose Laughing

It works, it is real milk and not the Devil's Own Sputum (aka soya milk) and it doesn't upset delicate tums.

#25:  Author: JayBLocation: SE England PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:32 am
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Something that occurred to me after reading posts in a couple of other threads. This seemed a suitable place for it, rather than starting a new discussion.

I agree that, going by the books, EBD seems to believe that marriage to an authoritative doctor is the ultimate achievement for any girl.

However, in real life, if EBD had married, would she have been happier than she was as a single woman? She was an educated, independent, professional woman with two successful careers. She had her own business, her own property and, I believe, took on responsibility for elderly relatives too.

EBD herself remarks, through Joey, on how Madge is in danger of becoming 'that sweet woman, Lady Russell'. Would she have been satisfied with that role for herself? How would she have taken to being bossed around by a Jem or a Jack?

#26:  Author: lizarfauLocation: Melbourne PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:00 am
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JayB wrote:
EBD herself remarks, through Joey, on how Madge is in danger of becoming 'that sweet woman, Lady Russell'. Would she have been satisfied with that role for herself? How would she have taken to being bossed around by a Jem or a Jack?


Marriage need not have been that bleak. Enid Blyton was around the same age as Elinor and she managed to have two marriages (and, by all accounts, an affair) and a couple of children in addition to being a very successful author before and throughout both marriages. If Elinor had married, she would no doubt have found that some of her fantasies regarding doctor husbands might not have been realised in R/L! Laughing

#27:  Author: MaryRLocation: Cheshire PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 3:37 pm
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lizarfau wrote:
Marriage need not have been that bleak. Enid Blyton was around the same age as Elinor and she managed to have two marriages (and, by all accounts, an affair) and a couple of children in addition to being a very successful author before and throughout both marriages.

Her elder daughter's obituary was in the Telegraph at the end of the week. It seems she and her younger sister had very different views on their mother and their upbringing, the elder being very happy about it all and the younger not so.

#28: EBD characteristics Author: kesLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:14 pm
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Quote:
*lol* Of course! The best way to understand a person is to look at what they write. Characteristics that appear in main characters are almost certain either to be a major factor in the life of the author or to be what s/he wished to be.


I remember going to a book signing by Ian Banks for his novel The Wasp Factory and him being astounded when telling the audience that someone had asked him if it was autobiographical as 'all first novels always are' and he assured us that it bore no relation to his own upbringing and given the plot I suspect that he would not wish to be what his main protaganist turned out to be! On one level it does indeed seem obvious that the main characters would reflect the author's aspirations but my literary 'training' (now probably very out of date) insisted that 'the author is dead' in the sense that you can never establish what the 'author intent' was as the text is continually interpreted (or something like that, ha)

Edit: have fixed formatting, R Wink

#29: Re: EBD characteristics Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:28 am
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kes wrote:
Quote:
*lol* Of course! The best way to understand a person is to look at what they write. Characteristics that appear in main characters are almost certain either to be a major factor in the life of the author or to be what s/he wished to be.


I remember going to a book signing by Ian Banks for his novel The Wasp Factory and him being astounded when telling the audience that someone had asked him if it was autobiographical as 'all first novels always are' and he assured us that it bore no relation to his own upbringing and given the plot I suspect that he would not wish to be what his main protaganist turned out to be! On one level it does indeed seem obvious that the main characters would reflect the author's aspirations but my literary 'training' (now probably very out of date) insisted that 'the author is dead' in the sense that you can never establish what the 'author intent' was as the text is continually interpreted (or something like that, ha)

Edit: have fixed formatting, R Wink


I'd say it's a mix - you can't take a single character from an author's works, or a single book, and extrapolate it to the author's personal views, characteristics or personality.

However, over a large number of books trends and biases do show up, both from the culture the author was raised in and from the themselves personally - some authors are good enough to hide this well, others not so much. Some authors deliberately attempt to put messages into their books (Mercedes Lackey, anyone?). There is also the fairly well documented prototype of the Mary-Sue, or a character which portrays the author as they wish to be, or as they see themselves.



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