Monday, September 13, 2010

The mystery of my Blyton voice

Tonight I realised that I have an Enid Blyton voice. It is terribly proper, pitched slightly higher than my usual speaking voice, and rounded at the edges. Perfect for talking about lashings of ginger beer and the importance of being polite.

It's been creeping up on me for a little while, this realisation. As Mr6 and I worked our way through books one to five of the Famous Five series, with its references to Anne's love of keeping house and the thrill of hard-boiled eggs, right through books one to six of the Secret Seven with its jolly hockey sticks overtones and its terribly privileged young protagonists, I wondered why my throat hurt if I read more than one chapter. It's the strain of my Blyton voice.

It only really came to the fore this evening, thanks to a rapid switch between reading one of Dav Pilkey's haphazard Captain Underpants books and a quick adventure in the Wishing Chair with the Terribly Polite Goblin. Captain Underpants demands a sort of 'Cor Blimey' excitement - quite the contrast with the tea, scones and Sunday Best vibe wheeled out for any Blyton.

It's quite specific, the Blyton voice. I can't think of any other books we read that require it. Not Zac Power, that's for sure. Not Harry Potter. Not even the 27th Annual African Hippopotamus Race. Anne of Green Gables or The Secret Garden might be candidates for it, but there's likely to be little call for those in a house full of boys.

I read recently that Enid Blyton's books have been 'sensitively' updated to include mobile phones. Julian even calls his maternal figure 'mum', not 'Mother'. Shudder. I will have to stick to vintage editions as there would be no call for the Blyton voice in such books.

Still, it's good to know that I can pull it out when I need it. I've been asked to do a reading at the school mass on Friday. I think this is a cunning plan to ensure my attendance. I can't think of a better outing for the Blyton voice, though, can you?

Does Enid Blyton bring out the 'terribly English' in your reading voice? Perhaps you have another secret voice that only appears when you read certain things? Please share. It would be good to know that I'm not alone in sounding like a complete pillock.


  1. I have a Charlie and Lola voice. It of course only comes out for readings of Charlie and Lola books, and it's also very British, but entirely unBlyton-esque. I've also been known to use it when complaining that I'm feeling really really ever so not well.

  2. I love that you have a Blyton voice! I read every other chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird to my daughter and I found that I read it in a Southern American accent--but then having lived there for the first 9 years of my life and visiting relatives for the next 31 years, there might be an explanation for this inclination.

    It was when I was reading the Hobbit to my daughter with a different voice for each character that I finally got a throat ache...

    I wish I had a Blyton voice though.

  3. Guilty as charged, Madam. I'm really rather thrilled to find that this is not just my own peculiar quirk. Off to quench my delight with lashings of ginger beer, and some freshly-baked scones slathered in jam and cream.

  4. I think my natural speaking voice is terribly Blyton, coming from dear old Blighty as one does. It is awfully posh and prone to saying things like jolly good old japes and frightfully good old chap. At least it's not Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins or Daphne in Frasier.

    I wish they wouldn't update the books. Leave them be I say.

    Reading books to your children is great for trying out your repertoire of accents. I am rubbish at the Australian twang though where every sentence ends on a question. Luckily my 10 year old speaks like that anyway.

    Good luck with the mass!

  5. That was me by the way - hit post too soon!

    Not contentious enough to be anonymous.

  6. You are not alone! I think I even had a Blyton voice as a little girl. I was Blyton obsessed...

    I think I may also have a Thomas the Tank Engine voice....whenever my 2 year old picks a Thomas book for his bedtime story, my voice gets all deep and Ringo Starr like...

    I am horrified about the updating of Enid's books, I only just found out about this a week ago and am so glad I will have my old Blyton books to read to my boys!

  7. Haha I have an Enid Blyton voice for every.thing I read. After living in the "royal county" for a long time it will be with me forever...
    Unless i'm angry. In that case it's a cross between South London and Tuggeranong. It's totally classy.
    Husband (awfully english thank you very much) loves it when I say "cross")
    Sadly, I have no need to read The faraway tree or even Naughty Amelia Jane unless the husband asks me to...and i don't think that will ever happen. (he's always ruining everything)
    Can't stop me from reading with an Enid Blyton voice in my head...
    Is that weird??


  8. I can't help but have the different voices, and at this point I am hopping with excitement to tell you about my favorite reading aloud book ever - have you heard of 'The Hounds of the Morrigan', Pat O'Shea? It isn't as popular as it should be, I think because its reading age is a bit ahead of the subject matter. Just as much fun for the reader as the listener...

    and lots of voices!

  9. Ahem, I am English so I read everything with an English voice, but not of the Enid Blyton variety, more the Midlands accent so hopefully not too pillock like :-)

  10. Al, with Miss 7, we are deep in the forest of fairies and goblins, with the occasional Disney Princess thrown in.
    I just can't switch from Rachel Tate to the weather fairies and goblins without some hammy theatrical voice overcoming me.
    But its kinda like speaking French, the more camp it sounds to us, the better it sounds to them.

  11. Yes! Yes! Yes! I've never thought of it before. I have an Enid Blyton voice too. LOL I also have a Morris Gleitzman voice and, as you, a Dav Pilkey voice and, at the moment, an Emily Rodda series adventurer voice.

    On a side note - I think we should get a petition together to ban Fran, Beth and Rich forever. Bring back Fanny, Bessie and Dick!!!!!! Or, better still, only read Enid Blyton editions pre-the 1980's. That'll fix those publishers;)

  12. PS The Faraway Tree rules! I secretly always wanted to be Silky.

  13. My children tell me my voice is a thing of wonder. I have no idea why. Apparently I sound like a cross between The Little Princess and Dawn French?!

    I do English accents. I am English. I take the piss in broad Yorkshire or get funny in Geordie. And get cross in......homecouties. Enid country.

    (Can I namedrop and tell you that Enid Blyton and my paternal grandmother were friends? Before she was the prolific writer she became?)

  14. I have been collecting all the Enid's as I want to keep the ginger beer and the world where they do not go and play until they have done their chores and finish helping mother...I will not give up on the dream. I don't care if they run away to the garden and have what are actually quite dangerous adventures, if they have helped me clean the house - it's all good.

  15. "I will have to stick to vintage editions as there would be no call for the Blyton voice in such books."
    True true! We have (also) an audio version of the Magic Faraway Tree. Kate Winslet does the reading. She does do quite well, but I can tell she's a vintage Blyton. She slips up a couple of times, when swapping Fanny for Franny and Dick for Rick.

    My voice changes - Blyton, Charlie and Lola, and children's poetry - which we read a lot of.

    I do find, even after reading an adult novel which is either obviously set in a particular country or era, that I tend to think in my imagined place, for a while after putting book down!

  16. Oh yes! Enid pops out whenever we're in a spot of bother up the Faraway Tree (although for reasons unknown I've adopted a rich brummie accent (dreadful) for Moonface - I know, weird, huh?)

    I also suspect that I enjoy reading Charlie and Lola books ever so much more than the tsunamis enjoy listening. I do a mean Charlie. X

  17. How cute! We haven't started any Enid in our house. I must get myself off to the second hand store while the going is good.

    You know me. As if there wouldn't be voices for book characters. As if.

    The hoarseness in your voice post-reading does bother me though. We must chat about vocal hygiene!

  18. Updating Blyton?!?! Sacrilege!

    And yes, my voice is almost always Blytonesque. To stop the voracious swearing of my youth and teens, while I was pregnant {in practice} I started emitting such terms as "Goodness Gracious"...

  19. Oh my good golly yes!! Little Women does it to me too- I take on inflections and phrases. can't help it. It's the sign of a good communicator ;)

  20. Cacked myself at the 'lashings of ginger beer' line, that always cracks me up. I think I used to make my voice deeper, I must've had 'man envy' when reading to the kids. Thank goodness they can read themselves now, I probably sounded horrible.

  21. I love Enid Blyton. I have boxes and boxes of her books that I didn't throw away but packed away so one day I will be able to read them to my kids!

  22. I have so many voices that emerge when reading, singing, reciting poems, cooking certain dishes, even doing various household chores that I am utterly convinced that I am actually being possessed every time I change activity. In fact, I can't guarantee I have a soul of my own - I fear I may be nothing more than an empty vessle for other's voices to channel through. A sorry state of affairs, really!

  23. I love Enid Blyton! My childhood copies are at my Mum's and every time I go for a visit I dig one out and lose twenty five years in an instant. Mine are old school versions, which I'm ever so pleased about!
    I don't have kidlets to read to, but my everyday voice is a mash up of theatre Australian, Yorkshire and Kiwi - people are never quite sure where I'm from!

  24. I know exactly what you mean. I have an 'I sound like my mother used to' voice when I read bedtime stories to my Eldest. Precise and exact annunciation comes as standard with this one. No dropped T's or glottal stops - unlike my Fishwife voice which tends to surface during 'heated debates' with said Eldest (usually down the garden.My neighbours must find it charming).

    I also tend to lapse into a very gruff Northern (UK) voice for all male characters in stories.I am not sure why this is.

    When I am a bit trolleyed I have a strange hybrid voice that likes to jump from broad Lancashire to Posh Scouse to North Walean, willy nilly.

    Hmm. Bit of a worry.

    Do you have other voices ? A 'phone voice' for instance, and is this a different voice to the Enid one?

  25. I had no idea when I started this that I would have so many friends in Blyton Voice land. I am heartwarmed. Really.

    @magicgardencymru - I do have other voices. Definitely a phone voice. It's very cheerful. Though I am considering changing it as people keep thinking I'm Mr6 when I answer the phone. Not that there's anything wrong with young and cheerful.

  26. In light of the current updating surge in many of Enid Blyton's popular series,Iamglad that I used either her originals or those resembling the originals as much as possible in writing and publuishingmy book on her, titled, The Famous Five:A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

  27. In light of the current updating surge in many of Enid Blyton's popular series,Iamglad that I used either her originals or those resembling the originals as much as possible in writing and publuishingmy book on her, titled, The Famous Five:A Personal Anecdotage (
    Stephen Isabirye

  28. hahah funny post, i loved enid blighton books! the voice is so captivating and charasmatic!

  29. That happens to me too! Definitely have a Blyton voice and a Charlie and Lola voice and a Dr Seuss voice... My Blyton voice took on a whole new dimension when I listened to Kate Winslet reading The Folk of the Enchanted Wood...

  30. "sensitively updated to include mobile phones"? I am aghast! That is beyond sacrilege.
    I am curious if amongst all the other Blyton Lovers, is anyone brave enough to read their children "The Naughtiest Girl" stories?

    1. But the Naughtiest Girl stories were some of my favourites! I desperately wanted to attend Whytecliffe (spelling?) Unfortunately the reality of boarding school in Melbourne didn't live up to it.
      I would definitely read them to my kids - I wonder if I could get them to listen (boys 9 & 6)?


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