MARCH, 1924




WEEK NINE (concluded)


Saturday, March 1
I met Hugh at 11 & we went for a walk in the park by the river & it was lovely & sunny. Had lunch at one & talked & went to the pictures in the afternoon. We went to Prince’s for tea, & had an argument about which of us was master. Hugh wouldn’t give way an inch & I loved him for it. I think I want for him to be master. He is such a darling darling thing. We went to Victoria for dinner & he came home with me & had some tea at 11.30 & Mums likes him awfully & he likes her. He was so very sweet. I do love him so. He is so strong & yet so gentle.

That is the day after the ball. They are still high after their first dance together. Not sure how insisting on being master made Hugh 'a darling, darling thing' in Enid's eyes. But then she was in love.

Sunday, March 2
I felt so dreadfully tired that I stayed in bed till 7.45 & came down to supper. I’ve been going it too strong & I’ll have to put the brake on. I wrote a long letter to Hugh & that’s all I did all day.


The end of one busy week. Mostly canoodling, though; Enid up to her neck in love and in love letters. And her work must have suffered. How could she write anything for publication when she had to write a letter to Hugh every day! After having written nothing all week, this was the first Sunday she'd missed out on writing her Talk for
Teachers World. However, as we'll see, she managed to write it the very next day.




WEEK TEN

Monday, March 3
Stayed in bed to breakfast. Went out & shopped till one. Wrote and slept till 4. Hugh phoned at 6.15 & said he was coming down to see me. He came to dinner at 7.15. We went into the drawing room by ourselves till 10, & he loved me & loved me. The others liked him awfully. He went at ¼ to 11. I did so love having him.

So by the beginning of March, Hugh was regularly coming to the Attenboroughs' house in Beckenham. Luckily, Enid had already had a chance to write her weekly Talk by the time he arrived for dinner at 7.15pm.
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One feels that the wind is being used as a metaphor in that piece. It's really Hugh that Enid is tussling with: 'Lovely, lovely, lovely, to feel Hugh all around me, blowing his strength into me, and laughing at my puny challenge! Oh, was ever there such a playmate as a mad March Hugh!'

What was it she wrote in her diary? Something like this: ‘The wind and I had an argument about which of us was master. The wind wouldn’t give way an inch & I loved him for it. I think I want for him to be master. The wind is such a darling darling thing.’

Back to the From My Window piece. Or am I still reading Enid’s diary?
‘Whew-w-w-w-ew! went Hugh, shrieking with delight, and flung himself on me in full force. I gasped for breath, and staggered on, holding my head down. Up and up I went, with Hugh trying to push me back, trying to tear off my mac, and to break the tape of my sou’wester.’

The wind has calmed. So has Hugh. Let’s except that they’re both strong and gentle, and move on.


Tuesday, March 4
To Surbiton. School. Handwork till 4. Tea alone with Mrs Sayer. Hugh phoned at 6.15. And I also got expressed letter from him at 4. He is such a dear. I did my rug till bed.

Wednesday, March 5
School. Painting till 4. Wrote letters till 7. Hugh phoned me at 6.15 for half-an-hour! I wrote the Burma poem tonight and nearly finished it. I had a lovely letter from Hugh this a.m. & 36 letters from children!

A poem about Burma, like the one about India, must surely have come from listening to Hugh, who had served in both countries after the First World War.

Thursday, March 6
School. Mollie’s music till 4. Wrote to Hugh. It is so lovely to have love letters every single day. He phoned me at 6. I finished the Burma poem & also finished Granny’s rug.

Here is the finished poem, including illustrations by Phyllis which wouldn't have been done yet. Enid was to meet Phyllis the next day, presumably to discuss the drawings to go with the 'Burma' poem.

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Interesting to me that Rangoon is rhymed with 'Moon' and 'soon' in this poem. Interesting to me that at the peak of her passion for Hugh, just a month after meeting him for the first time, the letters 'GOON' were going through Enid's mind. But I'll save the deconstruction of that for a postscript to this essay.

Friday, March 7
School. Met Phil at 2.45 & bought a new hat. Had tea at B & H. Home at 6. Hugh phoned & was very upset because he hadn’t got my letter yet. I washed my hair & talked till bed.

Oh good, another Phil and Enid head-to-head. What would they have talked about? Well, business first, I expect. The illustrations Enid required for 'Burma'. Then Enid would have had to get her friend up to speed with the Hugh affair. Since they'd last met on February 22nd, Hugh had kissed her in a taxi, given her an ultimatum, given her his medals from the war, danced with her all evening, insisted he was master, come to supper at 34 Oakwood Avenue and told her all about Burma.

Phil: "He gave you his medals?"

Enid: "All polished and be-ribboned."

Phil: "What have you done with them?"

Enid: "I don't know what to do with them."

I take it the verses of Enid's Burma poem were going through her head.That goes with the territory, if you're a poet.

'Oh can’t you feel the magic and the call of old Rangoon,
And doesn’t Mandalay call out, “Come soon – soon – soon.’


Anybody who substitutes: 'Goon - Goon - Goon' for 'soon - soon - soon', is getting ahead of the story by about twenty years.

Saturday, March 8
Hugh came down to Beckenham & I met him at 10. We went home & got some sandwiches. Then bussed to Bromley & Farnbrough & went over the fields & down the beech avenue to Cudham. It was a most heavenly blue spring day with sun & warmth. We picnicked with a friendly dog in a wood and had a lovely time. We sat under a tree on the Magic Hill till 4.45 & then went home by bus. Hugh was such a darling. He had brought me a jar of Brands essence & made me have spoonfuls at intervals. We got home at 6.30 & stayed by ourselves in the drawing room till 9 then went & played Bridge & Hugh & I won. Hugh went at 10.45. He was such a dear all day. He brought me some phospherine to take. I do love him so.

The modern map below shows Beckenham, top left and Cudham, bottom right, on the downs. Enid would have known this whole area well from walks with her father from an early age.

Brands essence of chicken was supposed to be a health food. An ad from the 1920s reads, 'You want a tonic to renew your ordinarily cheerful disposition. An occasional spoonful of Brand's Essence tones up the system and prevents listlessness or depression'.

Clearly Hugh is responding to Enid's expressions of tiredness at the beginning of the month. And clearly his consideration helped make the day work for Enid.

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Sunday, March 9
I wrote all a.m. Met Hugh at B.J.G. We sat on verandah in sun till tea, & Hugh told me what he had meant to tell me at Easter but it’s nothing much, bless him. He came to Chapel with me & I loved it. We went into the dining room by ourselves till 10.30.

That must be another reference to Hugh's marriage and impending divorce. Hugh and Enid would seem to be comfortable meeting in the Beckenham house now, that's two evenings in a week that they'd had the dining room or the drawing room to themselves in the evening.

As for Enid's Talk. Well, rather boldly, she simply described the walk of the day before! If this isn't an autobiographical piece of writing then I don't know what is. I mean, all these From My Windows are autobiographical, but this most obviously and directly so.

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That last sentence truly is like a blackbird’s song, weaving things together in a way that bursts into the receiving mind.

Many of these From My Windows tend to build up to a crescendo, but this one really takes off. Enid is happy or what? Holding her sweetheart's hand, she is singing her own heart out.

This is the first time that Hugh has been mentioned in a Talk. It won’t be the last.

“Just wait one minute, you two!” shouts the conservative side of Nature. But Enid and Hugh are not listening to that. They’re hungry for sandwiches, the company of a tail-wagging dog, the taste of Brands Essence, the silvery song of the blackbird.

At twenty-six, Enid's been saving herself for this time in her life: walking out with her chosen lover. It will never come again, such happiness. Not in quite the same Spring-like way. Savour it, woman!




WEEK 11

Monday, March 10
To Surbiton. School. Mollie’s birthday party. Met Hugh at Surbiton Station at 6.45 & he came to supper at Southernhay. A.G. & U.H. went to the lecture & Hugh and I stayed by the fire alone till 10.30! He was ever & ever so sweet to me. He brought me some lovely daffs. & some stuff to make me sleep. I do so love him.

Hugh is swarming all over Enid's territory. He'd now visited her at Southernhay as well as at the house in Beckenham. Bringing daffodils was a nice touch, as the previous Wednesday's Teachers World would have included Enid's, 'Spring Flowers'.

This week, Hugh either visited Enid or got a letter to her every day, except one. Not to mention the phone calls.

Tuesday, March 11
School. Handwork on verandah in sun till 4. Wrote letters till 6.15 & Hugh phoned me. Wrote etc till bed. Letter from Hugh.

Enid wrote a four-verse poem called 'The Pixies Visitors'. This was sold to Cassells on the day it was written, according to the right-hand pages of the same log book. Or perhaps this was Enid responding rather more slowly to Cassells than she'd responded to Nelson and Newnes, after all three publishers had asked urgently for things on January 17?

Wednesday, March 12
School. No painting, as Peter, John & I, Mrs Frogett & A.G. went in car to Weybridge for the afternoon. It was such a glorious day. Hugh phoned at 6.15 & sounded rather tired. I had a lovely lovely letter from him today. I wrote till bed.

According to her log book, all Enid wrote was a list of poems to be included in the book of poetry that Nelson's had commissioned from her, in addition to the batch of six books of stories, a book of poetry which would turn out to be Silver and Gold.

Thursday, March 13
School. Mollie’s music. Met Hugh at 6. We went for a walk in the Embankment Gardens till 6.45 then went to Rules till 10 & had dinner & talked. Hugh came down to Kingston with me, & I walked & trammed home.

Hugh would not have stayed overnight. Such rules were absolute in respectable households in those days.

Friday, March 14
School. Met Phil at 2.45. We went & had tea at Corner House & talked till 4.20. I went home. Hugh phoned at 6.15. Talked with Mums till 10. A. Noel & U. Bernard came for the night.

Another Enid and Phil head-to-head. Enid would have told her about being spoon-fed Brands Essence during the all-day walk.

Phil: "Did you recite your Burma poem to him?"

Enid: "I did, as a matter of fact. Because he gave me all the info and I'm proud of the result."

Phil: "Recite a bit for me."

Enid: "Oh come with me to Burma, to the land of pleasant ways.
Where a laughter-loving people dance adown the sunny days.
Where fairy-towers and slender htes are gleaming ‘neath the sun
And nothing seems to matter much, but happiness and fun!"


Saturday, March 15
Met Hugh at 9.20 at Charing X. We went to the Ideal Homes Ex. at Olympia. I told him about my quarrel with Wingate there & he was very glum about it & talked of it all lunch time at Rules. We went to the Tivoli in afternoon & I saw him off to his cousins at 5. I had tea at Charing X & went home. Read Punch till bed.

I don't know who Wingate is. Some man, as will become apparent.

Sunday, March 16
Wrote all a.m. Met Hugh at B. Junction at 3.30. We had the afternoon & evening alone together in the drawing room and he was very sweet. He came to Chapel with me again. He didn’t go till 10.15.

So now Hugh was getting into the habit of being with Enid either at Southernhay or 34 Oakwood Avenue, and being with her until late at night. At which point he would make his way home by train.

What did Enid write on Sunday morning? As she did the week before, she wrote about her Saturday spent with Hugh, though this time she didn't even mention him in passing. However, in a funny way, one can sense his presence throughout. And it explains why Enid wrote about what she wrote about: home-making couples.
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I think it can be assumed that Hugh and Enid had begun to talk about getting engaged and setting up home themselves.

I wonder if Enid thought of the couple who were wrapped up in themselves as herself and Hugh. I expect she did, as she must have been conscious that when she went round the exhibition she was with Hugh and that had been just the day before.

Two weeks in a row. Saturday with Hugh, followed by Sunday writing, either obliquely or not, of the Saturday spent with Hugh. Out on the Downs together one week; at an exhibition in town together the next. What mattered was that she was with Hugh.

Of course, she couldn’t have included Hugh in this particular piece. It would have given too much private information away to the readers of Teachers World.

The ones that Enid ‘loved and loved’ were the lovers: ‘I love lovers’. It just so happened that she was one of those lovers. ‘Oh, isn’t everything wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.’


WEEK 12

Monday, March 17
To Surbiton. School. Mollie’s music till 4. Met Hugh at 6.30 & he brought me some lovely daffs. After dinner we went into drawing room alone & we talked. But Hugh was so dreadfully miserable about Wingate & my friendship with him, it was rather spoilt. I made him a bit happier at last & he went at 11.

Hugh was jealous of this Wingate. Perhaps the fact that his first wife left him for another man left him open to such a destructive emotion.

Tuesday, March 18
School. Handwork till 4. Tea at Sayer’s. The children were very loving. Hugh phoned at 6 & still sounded very blue. I wrote letters till bed. Another express letter today & yesterday.

What is an express letter? In these days, there were several deliveries per day. But if one left it too late in the day, a letter wouldn’t be delivered until the next morning, unless you paid for an especially quick turnaround.

Wednesday, March 19
School. Painting till 4. Met Hugh at 6 & we went for walk to Embankment Gardens. We nearly quarrelled because Hugh was so absurd about Wingate. But we didn’t quite & went & had dinner at Rules. Hugh came down with me to Surbiton. I got home at 11.15.

Hugh is clearly pushing his luck with this jealousy thing.

Thursday, March 20
School. Found Kathleen had measles fully out on her! May took her home & put her to bed as Mr & Mrs Sayer had gone to a funeral. I sent notes home to all the children’s mothers. Expect I’ll have a tiny school now! Hugh phoned at 3 & begged me to come up & see him. I refused at first & then gave in. I met him at Waterloo at 7.10. He was perfectly sweet & we had dinner at Waterloo. He admitted he’d been an ass about Wingate. Things are getting pretty straight again.

The work log suggests that before Hugh phoned, Enid took the opportunity of writing a piece of fiction for Teachers World, something she hadn't done since the new term began. A revisiting of the nursery tale known as 'Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary'.

Friday, March 21
School. Met Phil at 2.45. She left a story at Newnes & Hugh waved to me from the window. We had tea & talked. Home at 6.15. Talked & read & played Bridge till bed.

Hugh waving at Enid from his place of work. What a warm feeling for them both! ‘Oh, isn’t everything wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.’

Well, not quite. I dare say, once they were sitting down to tea that Enid and Phyllis talked about Hugh's jealousy. I mean: "HUGH, HUGH, WHAT A TO-DO."

Saturday, March 22
Met Hugh at 10 & we went to Rotten Row. There he gave me a letter to read that he’d written, in his presence. He then began to talk to me “seriously” but I couldn’t take it lying down & there we were quarrelling & we did it till 12.30 when Hugh jumped up & took me into Piccadilly. There he bought me some lovely roses & we made it up. We had lunch together & he was very sweet & made love to me. We went to the pictures at 2.30 & then Hugh came home with me to stay the night. It was lovely. We stayed in the drawing room by ourselves & Hugh loved me tremendously & tried to make up for the nasty morning. He read me some of Kipling while I sat by his knee. I had a letter from Eric Evans about the zoo & Hugh said I must say no!

Every time Enid says that Hugh made love to her she doesn't mean in the physical sense. He didn't spend the night with her, just the evening until late.

Eric Evans of Evans Bros may have asked if a zoo book, written by Enid, could be published by his firm. Obviously, that couldn't happened as she'd been commissioned by Hugh and Newnes.

Sunday, March 23
Hugh & I & Mums went to church at the Wesleyan Chapel. Then Hugh & I went for a little walk. After lunch we had the drawing room to ourselves & all evening too. Hugh was very loving. I took him in my arms & stroked his hair and he loved it. He caught the last train. He drafted out the letter to Eric Evans.

Obviously a delicate matter between publishers. Otherwise why didn't Enid just write the letter herself?

The end of not a very good week for Enid and Hugh. First, his jealousy, which he apologised for. Second, his overbearingness: getting Enid to read aloud his letter, which he apologised for with roses. Third, his forbidding her to do something in a professional capacity, which he followed through with.

No, not a very good week. And with Hugh being in Beckenham all Sunday, Enid didn't get a chance to write her weekly piece for
Teachers World.





WEEK 13

Monday, March 24
To Surbiton. School. Only 5 kids. Worked at writing all afternoon & evening. Hugh phoned at one but I told him he was to go without phoning or my letters for 2 days so I rang off quickly. Poor Hugh.

Yes, Hugh, was to leave Enid to get on with some writing in the absence of a busy school room. First, her Talk, which she was never later with than the Monday...

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Not one of Enid's best, I feel. Perhaps she was feeling a little down after feeling so high for a month or so. Hugh's jealous tiff may have taken the wind out of her sails. Really, she should have written a piece on jealousy, but that would have been very hard to pull off given that Hugh was surely reading these articles, even if just to make sure he had nothing else to be jealous about!

Hugh had given her a bunch of daffs on Monday March 17. That had been a nice surprise. But then he'd been an ass about Wingate. Not a nice surprise. And being made to read aloud a horrible letter that Hugh had written to her. That had been the nastiest surprise of all. No, not a good week for surprises.

Never mind, because Enid was giving
herself a nice surprise. The joy of a full day's writing. That afternoon and evening, after the Talk was written, Enid got through three nursery tales of 600 words each - 'Sing a Song of Sixpence', 'Dickery Dickery,Dock' and 'Ride A Cock Horse' - all of which were full of surprises and would eventually be published by Teachers World.

Tuesday, March 25
School. Handwork till 4. Met Hugh at 6.30 at Surbiton & we had a lovely evening at Southernhay all by ourselves. Hugh bought me daffs. & narcissus & said he’d arranged to have my poems broadcast! He was such a dear to me.

Wednesday, March 26
School. Painting till 4. Wrote to Hugh, a long letter. Went to Eric Cook’s to tea. Hugh phoned at 6. Wrote all p.m. Had an express letter from Hugh.

I expect that long letter was to do with Hugh's jealousy. The writing Enid did was a 3000-word story called 'Beauty and the Beast'. She would rewrite more of these old English fairy stories for another Nelson's Reader in the following week.

Thursday, March 27
School. Met Phil at 3 at Charing X & we went & had tea & talked together till 5.15. It was lovely. Then I met Hugh at 6 & we went in the gardens for a bit & then to Rules. We talked & Hugh was sweet. He came down to Surbiton with me, & we had the carriage to ourselves.

Another meeting with Phil. These came thick and fast. There were two in February and this was the third in March, the previous ones being on the 14th and 21st.

Phil: "Hugh made you read aloud a letter he'd written to you. God, what did it say?"

Enid: "I can't tell you, it's too shaming."

Phil: "Hugh wrote a letter on your behalf to Eric Evans. God, what did that say?"

Enid: "Too, too shaming. Can we talk instead about the illustrations that are required for the nursery tales that I've written for Teachers World? I'm sure those stories will look gorgeous once you've worked your magic on them."

Friday, March 28
School. Home at 3.30. Hugh phoned at 6.15. I went down to 13 Westfield & had supper with Mother & Hanly 7 we talked till 10.30. Hanly is getting married on June 14th.

Now that is interesting. Enid spent a whole evening in her mother's company. I wonder if Enid told her about Hugh, and what was beginning to look like an engagement, given what happened next.

Saturday, March 29
Met Hugh at 10 at Victoria. We went to Russell Sq. to book rooms for his mother, then to order our signet rings. We had seen the guards being mounted at 11.30. Then to Buzzards for coffee & cakes & then we went & had lunch. Hugh was ever & ever so nice. We went to the Tivoli at 2.30 & saw Jackie Coogan in “Long Live the King” & it was topping. Then home to dinner & I found lots of dresses waiting for me from Mrs Slade & I tried them all on. Then we played bridge & went to bed at 11.15. Hugh is staying the night.

In a spare room, of course. No sex until after the wedding. In the days before reliable contraception that just had to be the rule.

Sunday, March 30
We walked to Bromley in a.m. & sat on the recreation hill till 11.30 & then went into church late. Home at one. We were together all afternoon & evening in the drawing room. Hugh went at 11.

No chance to write her weekly Talk then. For the fourth time this month.


WEEK 14 (begun)


Monday, March 31
To Surbiton. School. Wrote letters etc all afternoon till 5.45. Met Hugh at 6.30 & he gave me some lovely daffs. We had the evening together at Southernhay & Hugh was ever & everso nice – I love him more than ever.

Enid doesn't say so in her diary, but in her work log the following Talk is marked down as having been written on Monday, March 1924. And that makes sense as she was with Hugh all day Sunday and wouldn't have been able to write it then. It's a slow burner...

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As Enid has gone to the trouble of naming the caterpillars/moths, I may as well provide images of them. First, the buff-tip:

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Second, the poplar hawk:

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Third, the gold-tail:

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I wonder just how common it was to keep caterpillars like that in those days. I mean just how odd a person was Enid Blyton?

It was her father’s influence, of course. The great naturalist also taught his daughter to grow seeds and maintain a garden. He was a teacher and she loved being taught by him. In contrast, Enid avoided her mother and her mother’s world. Phyllis Chase would later tell Barbara Stoney that when Enid was first married she didn’t know how to cook a potato.

Imagine, a year later, Hugh getting home to a dinnerless table to behold instead a pair of buff-tips, a poplar hawk and a pair of gold-tails.

As Enid has gone to the trouble of naming the moths, I thought I might as well look them up. In my opinion, on balance, the caterpillars are more glamorous than the moths. But back to the end of March, 1924:

Enid: 'Why couldn't I come out of my dark winter coat?'

Me: "Oh but you have Enid! Have you so soon forgotten your silver dress that you wore for the dance on the last day of February?"

Enid is one of the butterflies, she knows she is. She's kept herself in the dark for long enough, exercising patience, knowing that when the time came it would be a once in a lifetime thing.

And that's what's happening. That once in a lifetime thing. Kiss goodbye to the chrysalid. Kiss hullo to the full-blown butterfly (let's not talk camouflage-brown moths here). For one summer only.

So ignore those doubts about Hugh's jealousy, and his so-called mastery. And bring it on. That one spring-summer.

But just before that, with the help of Phyllis Chase let’s look back on what has been a productive month as far as Enid’s weekly column is concerned:



Enid 1924 March TW12345 - Untitled Page


Actually, there's another way of considering 'Magic' to be a metaphor for where Enid is in her life. Because after several years of working as a teacher, and writing in her spare time, she is about to resign her teaching job and become a full-time writer.

A wind of change, indeed. Spread those newly sprouted wings, Enid.