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Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 10:51 UK
Enid Blyton's Dorset connection
Sue Hendey, BBC Dorset
By Sue Hendey
BBC Dorset

Life-long Enid Blyton fan Viv Endecott loves the adventures of The Famous Five.

Dorset locations inspired much of Enid Blyton's work and the writer frequently used to stay in Purbeck.

This connection to Dorset led Viv into a business, which is expanding.

Viv already runs the Ginger Pop Shop at Corfe Castle - a shop dedicated to all things Enid Blyton - and now she is opening another at the former Swan Inn pub in Poole.

Viv grew up in Lytchett Matravers and it was here where her interest in Enid Blyton began.

Enid Blyton fan Viv Endecott
At school, Viv regularly swapped Enid Blyton books with friends

Viv says she had to make her own adventures in the village and so began reading Enid Blyton novels.

Mr. Galliano's Circus was the first non-picture book she read at the age of seven.

This is where her 'love affair' with Enid Blyton's books began, particularly because many of them were inspired by Dorset places.

'Proper' adventures

Viv explains that she became 'hooked' on Enid Blyton's novels because they are what she describes as 'proper adventure stories'.

She says: "[At school] a lot of my friends in class were also into Enid Blyton, so we were constantly swapping books.

"I think it's the attitude [that Enid Blyton had] towards children.

"Children are presumed to have a certain amount of common sense and able to go out by themselves and have adventures.

"To modern children today the fantasy is simply being allowed to go out by yourself."

Blyton was illustrated by Eileen Soper
Viv is also a fan of Enid Blyton's main illustrator Eileen Soper

Inspired by Dorset

Although Enid Blyton, also known as Mary Pollock, was born in South London she took much of the inspiration for her novels from her time spent in Dorset.

Viv says: "This is the county which she adopted as her own - she came three times a year on holiday and stayed in Purbeck.

"Whispering Island [in The Famous Five books] is Brownsea Island.

"Some people say Corfe Castle has connections with Kirran Castle [also in The Famous Five].

"Brownsea should not be muddled up with Kirran Island, which is a rocky island and is certainly one of the Channel Islands off Jersey, where Enid Blyton went on honeymoon.

"But the castle is a description of a big Norman castle and since at the time she was writing The Famous Five and she was visiting Dorset on a regular basis, the description is far closer to Corfe than any of the castles in Jersey."

Eileen Soper - illustrator

Viv's interest in Enid Blyton's books has meant that she has also become a fan her illustrator, Eileen Soper.

She says: "Pictures are an integral part of any book and there are certain illustrators and authors that go together - for example, John Tenniel and Alice In Wonderland, Roald Dahl with Quentin Blake.

"Probably the longest collaboration, the most prolific and fruitful, was Enid Blyton and Eileen Sopher."

Eileen Sopher also illustrated books for several other authors including Elizabeth Gould.

The Swann Inn, Poole, pre-refurbishment
The Swann Inn, Poole now features a secret passage for visitors

Poole's Swan Inn

As well as a second Ginger Pop Shop, Viv is also unveiling an exhibition called Eileen Soper's Illustrated Worlds at the former Swan Inn pub on Poole Quay.

Known for its iconic green tile frontage the converted pub will now house many reconstructions of Eileen Soper's best known works.

Viv says: "The entrance to the whole exhibition is going to be the first meeting place of The Secret Seven which was an old windmill.

"Then you can turn into our version of a pannelled study and if you find the right knob you can open up the secret passage."



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