Treyer Evans cover of 1953 Methuen edition.


I'm going to start this analysis with a word about it's illustrators.

This would be Treyer Evans fourth involvement with a Mystery, having begun with the internal illustrations for
Mystery of the Invisible Thief. It's an evocative cover, though it doesn't feature Holly Lane, where much of the action of the novel takes place.

Subsequent illustrators seem to have followed Evans's lead. Below is the first paperback cover from 1965, featuring the horse-box and the character, Marian. Her 'right hand on right ear' pose continues the practice of Joseph Abbey when drawing Goon in the first seven Mysteries.

Peter Archer cover of 1965 Armada edition.

I have say that the horse box does not look right. A glass window is not right for a start.

Below is a lively and colourful cover by Mary Gernat, which came out in 1969. She did well to focus on the Find-Outers exclusively, leaving Marian out of shot.

Mary Gernat cover of 1969 Dragon edition.

And the horse-box actually looks like one.

Sadly, Mary Gernat was not asked to do internal illustrations, in other words to take over from Jenny Chapple who had ploddingly illustrated
Invisible Thief, Vanished Prince and Strange Bundle. I suspect poor Jenny had been sacked for gross incompetence. And doesn't she just know it, if one imagines Marian to be Jenny for a second! Treyer Evans cover reminds me that it often seemed that Jenny was drawing with a pencil as wide and blunt as a torch.

Treyer Evans cover of 1953 Methuen edition.

Right, at least we've established that a key scene in the book will involve letting a young woman out of a horse box. So we might bear that in mind as we start again.

I'm going to write up this Mystery slightly differently to the earlier ones. Why? Because as I say in the Secret Seven chapter that begins this website, in April 2012 I took a trip to Seven Stories in Gateshead and one of the things I did that day was take a quick look at
The Mystery of Holly Lane typescript. Five years later, I plan to shine a torch on certain aspects of Enid's methodology.

Enid spells out her technique for writing in Chapter 15 of
The Story of My Life (1952). She sat down at the beginning of a book, cleared her thoughts, allowed the characters and their environment to emerge, and feverishly typed away, trying to keep up with the private cinema screen inside her head as the story unfolded. She reiterated this in the letters she wrote to Peter McKellar in the early 1950s, which appear as an appendix to Barbara Stoney’s biography. In both summaries, she emphasised that she didn’t consciously come up with the story, nor do any planning.

I ordered copies of five pages from the
Holly Lane typescript that day, and I can see they're going to be valuable to me today. For a start, I can see that Enid didn't have chapter headings to begin with, just chapters I, II, III, etc.. When she got to the end of the typescript, she clearly changed the ribbon, and with that new ribbon, typed the title of the book and the title of the first chapter on the first page alongside the previously typed and underlined 'Chapter I'. Of course, I could be wrong about that. You decide.

holly lane - Version 2

Actually, looking at it again, Enid may have just put on the chapter headings second time around, and then put the sheet in one last time, having gone right through the book putting in chapter names, and finally typed out the title of the book. I'm sure Fatty would be able to tell for sure by adding orange juice, or a warm iron. Alas, he's not available for comment.

Don't omit to read those first two paragraphs of the novel on the above typescript. Such a great start and all in ten seconds flat! No chance of Enid gabbling her typing, though. She was in complete control.


The story starts in the Hiltons' house where Pip and Bets are keenly looking forward to Fatty's return to town from his boarding school which has broken up late for Easter. They try not to get bogged down in domestic tasks.

Rodney Sutton illustration, 1991.

I'm including the illustrations made by Rodney Sutton in 1991, as he is the only artist apart from Treyer Evans to have produced internal illustrations for this Mystery. He produced illustrations for all fifteen of the books in 1991, which perhaps explains why they are not that good (done in haste), and often copy the work of earlier artists (though not in this case).

On the street, Pip and Bets meet Daisy and Larry who are also off to the railway station to meet the leader of the Find-Outers. They go via Fatty's place to take Buster along, but to their surprise he's not there. Buster is already at the station awaiting Fatty's arrival. But when the train pulls in - no Fatty!

(Bets gobbling her porridge is the absolute highlight of this hectic opening chapter.)


The Find-Outers think that Fatty is in disguise as a Frenchman, who wants directions to a house he pronounces as 'Grintriss'.

(In the typescript, Enid wrote 'Pintriss' the first couple of times, but changed it by pen and then went on typing 'Grintriss' thereafter. )

The Find-Outers decide to lead 'Fatty' to his own house. When they get there, the real Fatty comes up behind them and the Find-Outers realise their mistake. Goon too turns up to add to the confusion, but can't tolerate either Buster's attention or the Frenchman's way of talking, so he cycles off.


Daisy realises the Frenchman has been saying GREEN TREES. So the Find-Outers are able to take him to the house of that name. On Holly Lane,

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

The Find-Outers then return to Fatty's house where Mrs Trotteville chats to them. On this page in the typescript, Enid makes a note by hand to the illustrator: 'Artist, please note that in this chapter Fatty has his overcoat on'. Strangely enough, Joseph Abbey makes no use of this information. Or at least there is no drawing of Fatty with his coat on. The image relating to an overcoat, relates to the Frenchman (see above) and though that scene relates to chapter 3, it can be found in the first edition in chapter 2. All a bit puzzling.

Anyway, Fatty needs to eat lunch on his own (one portion of steak and onions doth not a meal for five Find-Outers make), but invites the others back for tea that afternoon, when they all meet up in Fatty's shed for a planning session.

(At this stage it's fair to say that the story seems to be going nowhere fast. Though, actually, things are being put into place. In particular, the Frenchman has been installed in the house next door to the house that becomes the focus of this Mystery.)


Over a super shed tea, it's decided that Fatty will find a way of making Goon buy a ticket for Daisy's Church sale. Pip will shadow Goon for part of the day. And Larry will have a go at cleaning someone's windows. (No jobs for the girls, it seems.) So the next morning Pip follows Goon, attracting Buster's attention along the way and ending up with Goon accusing Buster of sheep worrying.


Meanwhile Fatty had disguised himself as a woman and gone to Goon's house. Here he meets a housekeeper and her son, Bert, before Goon turns up with wild tales about Buster's behaviour. Disguised (and disgusted) Fatty begins to read Goon's palm, but Enid decides she'd rather have this hilarious scene reported by Fatty to the other Find-Outers.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.


Back in Fatty's shed that evening, Pip is first to report how he got on shadowing Goon. Then Fatty tells the rest how he fooled Goon, impressed him with his palm reading, and got him to buy two tickets for the Church Sale. The others laugh at the line that Fatty used on Goon:
"I see a fat boy, a beeg fat boy" So Fatty milks it, as he did for Goon: ".... BEWAAAAARE of zis fat boy. There is some mystery here. But BEWAARE of zis beeg, fat boy!" All the Find-Outers find it hilarious. Surely, Enid's readers too. After that, Larry tells how he got on window cleaning at a bungalow. Basically, there was an old man in the front room. He seemed to be blind and he went around the room feeling the seats of chairs until finally satisfied that something was still there and returning to his wheelchair. Aha, the first sniff of a mystery!


Fatty realises Buster is missing and a phone call from Goon to Mr Trotteville reveals that the dog has been locked up for chasing sheep (witnessed by Bert). Fatty puts on a disguise in his shed then cycles to Goon's house where, using ventriloquism, he scares Bert, unlocks Buster from Goon's shed and puts a big black cat in his place. Then he returns to his shed, locks Buster up in it and takes off his disguise.


Goon is at Fatty's house talking to his parents about Buster. Mr Trotteville then takes Fatty in the car to Goon's place, but first Fatty finds time to phone Pip and ask him to fetch Buster and bring him round to Goon's house. Obviously what's being set up is Goon's humiliation. Bert is a jibbering wreck when asked about Buster's sheep-worrying, and there is no dog in the shed, just a cool black cat.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

After having an ice-cream in town, Pip and Fatty meet the rest of the Find-Outers and Larry tells them that he needs to go back to the bungalow on Holly Lane to retrieve his cleaning cloth. So they all go and to their surprise they can hear the old man shouting for the police. Aha - that whiff of a mystery again!

(Enid made a few changes to the ice-cream in town scene, and used two pinned paragraphs to put things right. I didn't take detailed notes at the time the manuscript was in front of me, so that's all I can say.)


The Find-Outers go inside and discover that the old man thinks that he has been robbed. He insists on the police being called, and continues to do so when his nephew, Wilfred, arrives. So Fatty goes next door (to Green Trees) and tries to tell Goon by phone that there has been a robbery at the Hollies on Holly Lane. Goon doesn't believe him and slams down the phone. Twice.


Fatty has to phone the police station in the next town to get his call taken seriously. Meanwhile, the Find Outers are talking to the Frenchman who had not been well since arriving at Peterswood and from his place on the couch has seen much comings and goings at the Hollies. When Goon arrives next door and gets let in by Wilfred, the Find-Outers make their way home.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

As he's going home, Fatty is thinking hard about what the old man might have been doing the other night. Why he was feeling so many of the bits of furniture? Originally in the typescript, just before these thoughts of Fatty, was the following paragraph which Enid decided to omit. Worth noting perhaps as it's the only such cut (so far) from the original torrent of writing.

'PIp was the only one with a bicycle, and he made Bets get on the step behind so that he could give her a lift. Both he and Bets hated to be late for meals because their mother did not look kindly on unpunctuality.'

Seems fine, so why get rid of it? One suspects that Mrs Hilton's house rules were partly based on Mrs Blyton's, and Enid may have thought she was getting a bit close to the bone here.

Goon then calls round on Fatty to try and get his opinion on the Mystery, but Fatty is cold towards him, not least because Goon's intentions had been so cruel concerning Buster.


That afternoon the five meet at Pip's for a splendid tea. Buster disgraces himself by eating all his biscuits at once. They leave sharp at seven as another meal is about to be served at the Hiltons. The plan is for Fatty to take Buster out for a walk in the evening and fetch Larry's shammy leather which has still not been collected from the Hollies. In fact, Fatty falls asleep and it's nearly midnight when he wakes up and takes Buster out.


Fatty has a torch with him and when he gets to the Hollies he has a good look round the garden for the cloth. He can't find it so he climbs into the garden of Green Trees in case it's blown over there. While next door, he hears a vehicle stop and low sounds of people moving about and whispering. He can't work out what's happening. Once the vehicle has driven away, he shines a torch into the BACK room of the Hollies to check the old man is all right. Then he goes home, letting himself in through the garden door. In the morning, Fatty gets on his bike and cycles to the Hollies. He discovers Henri (the Frenchman) and Goon in the house. Apparently there was a break-in during the night and all the furniture was removed from the FRONT room. The old man had been very upset when he discovered this in the morning and had yelled the place down.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.


Fatty manages to have a look around the house which is now empty, the old man having been invited to stay next door until his family who are based in Marlow can sort something else out for him.

Rodney Sutton illustration, 1991.

Then Fatty is invited into Green Trees and Henri the Frenchman gives him a list of people who had been to the Hollies in the lead-up to the theft of the old man's money. Before leaving the vicinity, Fatty also makes note of a tyre tread which he feels my have belonged to the car - or, more likely, van - that had taken away the furniture at midnight.


At an afternoon meeting in Fatty's shed, he gets the others up to speed.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

Daisy drops in the info that the old man used to be an upholsterer, so he'd know how to make some kind of pocket in furniture. Larry makes four copies of the tyre tread. And the group discuss who is to do what as regards the six suspects.

The second half of the following paragraph is replaced by a retyped section, but simply because Enid had omitted the 'four', 'five' and 'six' in her original typing.

'Fatty turned to his list of six Suspects. He read them out. "One - Lady with papers or magazines, dressed in red coat, and black hat with roses. Two - window cleaner. Three - Grocer's boy, from Welburn the grocer's, red-haired and was in the bungalow quite a time. Four - man with bag, came in car with number ERT 100. Five - Well-dressed young man, who stayed for only a minute. And six - a young woman who stayed quite a long time."'

The chapter ends with the line '
Now who of all those six, was the thief?'


Fatty returns to Green Trees to get more details from Henri about the suspects. Then he cycles to the vicarage to try and eliminate the first suspect. Sure enough, this turns out to have been the vicar's sister delivering the Parish magazine. Not guilty of making off with the old man's cash! Meanwhile, Goon is thinking that the middle-aged lady could have been the woman that read his palm, so he calls round at the Trotteville residence where she is supposed to be staying. Mrs Trotteville denies all knowledge of her and Fatty arrives in time to subtly humiliate Goon.


Next morning, Fatty goes to interview the man who cleaned the windows at the Hollies (two days after Larry had cleaned them). He completely believes the man, who even offers Fatty a job. From there, Fatty goes to Pip's where the others are despondent because Goon has found the cloth that Larry used to do his window cleaning and the family name 'Daykin' was marked on the cloth. So Fatty goes round to Goon's with Buster in tow. While Fatty is explaining to Goon how he's tracked down the real window cleaner, Buster tears the Daykin evidence to shreds. The chapter ends:
'Mr Goon said the only thing he felt able to say - "Gah."'

In the typescript, that 'GAH!' is in capitals. And then Enid deletes the following typed line which she may have decided was unnecessary:

"GAH!" said Mr Goon, and shook a big ball of a fist in the air. "GAH!"


Before meeting the other Find-Outers at Pip's place, Fatty buys a new leather for Larry to give to his parents. Pip is able to say that the grocer's boy delivered when Marian, the old man's granddaughter, was in the house, so he couldn't have taken any money. The granddaughter is also on Fatty's list of suspects though he doesn't really suspect her, as she does so much good work for her grandfather. However, there is also Wilfred, Marian's cousin, who lives at 82 Spike Street, Marlow. Before they check him out, they decide to look out for the number plate ERT 100. No luck, until the very car is spotted in Larry and Daisy's drive. It's the doctor's car, so they strike him off the list as well. Leaving only Wilfred and Marian to be investigated, both of whom live in Marlow.


It's three miles to Marlow from Peterswood, so they cycle with Buster in Fatty's basket. It is indeed three miles to Marlow from Bourne End, and here's the map that shows the way along the A4155.

missing necklace_0003 - Version 4

Apparently, Spike Street leads to the river. Well, St Peter's Church has a spire and St Peter's Street leads down to the river, so let's take a look. First, the map which shows St Peter's Church in the middle...

Screen shot 2016-10-11 at 12.13.53

Then the walk down to the river...

Screen shot 2016-10-11 at 11.55.38

The book proceeds: "They could see no one. They came to the water's edge and stood there. Then Daisy gave Fatty a nudge. A boat lay bobbing not far off, and in it a young man lay reading, a rather surly-looking fellow in smartly creased grey-flanneled trousers and a yellow jersey." Could it be Sebastian Flyte? No, let's not get my Evelyn Waugh and Enid Blyton projects mixed up.

So the Find-Outers interview Wilfred. He tells them that when he was at his great uncle's house, Marian was there too and asked him to help put up the curtains that she'd washed and ironed. At which ridiculous request he'd walked off. It seems that Marian could provide an alibi for her unprepossessing cousin Wilfred, so the next thing is to try and talk to her. But the Find-Outers discover, when they call at the hotel where she works, that she's been missing for two days. Marian is a much-liked young woman and people, including her mother, are very worried about her. But it looks like she and the money have gone missing together.


Back to Fatty's shed that evening and a big discussion of the Mystery. After the meeting, the children bump into Mr Goon who tells them to look out for news in the next day's paper. The headline 'MISSING GIRL AND MISSING MONEY' depresses Fatty so he decides to go for one last look round the Hollies. He remembers that Marian washed and rehung the curtains and in handling them realises there is something funny about the side-hem.

Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

The money is there! Fatty realises that Marian must have sewn it into the curtain to make sure Wilfred didn't get his hands on it.


At home, Fatty realises that Wilfred's family have stables, which means he has access to horse-boxes - and vans capable of moving furniture. Fatty is about to organise a search in Marlow when his own mother tells him that his grandfather is arriving for the day. So Fatty must patiently host the old man (whom he is very fond of) from 11am, when his train arrives, to 6 pm, when it departs. Then Fatty goes straight round to Pip's where the rest of the Find-Outers are, once again, brought up to speed. The plan is for Fatty, Larry and Pip to search the grounds of the stables after watching the film

The next paragraph is a replacement:

'"Can't Daisy and I come?" asked Bets.
"No. This isn't a job for girls," said Fatty. You can't come to the cinema with us either, because Ivanhoe won't be over til late - and you two girls can't wait about afterwards for us. We may be ages."'

As I say, these words are typed on a pinned section, replacing the original typed words. In other words, the distinctly non-feminist paragraph was an afterthought, only the fourth such altered paragraph in the book. How much the phrasing departs from Enid's original wording I can't say, as I didn't make a note of it.

The three boys cycle to Marlow where they watch the film and then get looking for horse-boxes. Eventually they find one which is preceded by a patch of mud with the right tyre tacks.

Rodney Sutton illustration, 1991.

Fatty is lifted up and can see that there is broken furniture in the vehicle. Someone cries out for help from inside the vehicle. Fatty knows it must be Marian. The following sentence is not found in the original typescript, but Enid added it later:
'Gosh, she has been locked up with the furniture.'

But did Enid add that by hand to the typescript, or was it added when she read the proofs. Alas, I didn't make note of that, I just noted that the printed words in the first edition were 'omitted in t.s.'.


Treyer Evans illustration, 1953.

So with Marian's discovery, it's confirmed that Wilfred is the criminal. He wanted money from the old man to pay off debts. Marian wouldn't tell him where the money was hidden. In fact, she changed the money's hiding place just in case Wilfred got the info out of the old man or otherwise discovered it. Wilfred stole the furniture but couldn't find the money. So he locked Marian in with the furniture, telling her she wouldn't be let out until he let him know where the money was. The bastard! Woops, that was me, not Enid. Neither in typescript, nor by pen alteration, nor in print first edition.

The boys take Marian to her home then go home themselves, Fatty getting them to agree to meet at the bungalow at half past ten the next morning. Fatty then rings the Inspector from home and drops a few hints that he should turn up with Goon at the bungalow, also at 10.30am.


In the front room of the Hollies, Fatty is in complete control. He reveals the money. He reveals that he has traced the furniture. He gets Marian to step forward from the back room. His luck even holds when Wilfred turns up hoping to search for the money one last time. The inspector is delighted. Goon is stunned. The book ends with the Superintendent treating the Find-Outers to ice-cream and macaroons.

To her own mind, Enid doesn't get the final paragraph just right. If you just read the TYPED words in the original typescript you'll see her first finish.

holly lane_0001 - Version 2

As you can see from the above, Enid made ink alterations to her typescript, getting rid of the ambiguous word 'Five'. She wouldn't want readers to think Famous Five on the last page of a Find-Outers book. But she must have decided that her hand-written alterations might not be absolutely clear to the printer, so she obligingly typed out the corrected version, trimmed it down to the right size of paper, and pinned it over the original page.

holly lane_0002 - Version 2


In summary, the typescript of
Holly Lane is very clean. The over-pinning business only happens five times in the whole book.

After going through the novel, and typing chapter headings onto 22 pages of the original typescript, and pinning freshly typed paragraphs onto five pages, Enid then created a Contents page from scratch, with the still fresh ribbon, listing all the chapter names in one column. There are a number of written marks on the page which are a printer's instructions to himself, I think. Which means, of course, that Enid sent off the amended typescript to her publisher/printer and must have got it back from the publisher/printer along with the proof copy of the book itself, which it would have been her responsibility to read through.

But at the end of the typing process, Enid did a significant thing. She typed out another page which she called the foreword. This reads exactly as it does in the first edition, even down to the fact that it's signed. So when she signed the foreword, IT WAS LIKE A PAINTER SIGNING HIS OR HER FINISHED WORK. Which makes it all the more of a shame that Enid's daughter Gillian threw away so many of the original typescripts of her mother's books.

holly lane

Enid hadn't always signed the typescript. The first three Mysteries don't have forewords.
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters foreword appears as it does below in the first edition, because Enid wouldn't have signed her name on the foreword of the typescript, just typed it. At least that's what I would surmise.

holly lane_0001

The first of the Find Outers book to have Enid's signature in the foreword of the first edition is the eighth book,
Invisible Thief. By which time she was putting more effort into her forewords:

holly lane_0002

I expect an actual signature was on the typescript, but we don't know for sure, as it seems that her daughter, Gillian, may have thrown that valuable bundle of paper away. Bye-bye thousands of pounds. Bye-bye precious information about just how smooth Enid's first type-through was, and where exactly Enid's conscious mind decided on the odd edit.

You know what Enid should have done? She should have learned a trick from her own character Marian and sewn the forewords to all her Famous Five, Mystery, Barney and Adventure books into the side hems of curtains at Green Hedges. Gillian would have had as much chance of finding them as Wilfred would have had of working out where his elderly relative's cash was hidden. Not that that would have saved the forewords. On Enid's death, Eric Rogers, the family's business adviser, saw to it that Green Hedges was destroyed.

Eric Rogers: "That should put paid to any manuscript pages signed by Enid, wherever the bitch hid them."

But I digress to a purely imaginary scenario. Let's get back on track. Examination of early editions reveals that from the eighth Mystery onwards, the forewords have Enid's signatures and all manage to mention Goon:

Vanished Prince: 'Mr Goon is on the job too, trying very hard, but not quite keeping up with Fatty.'

Strange Bundle: 'Mr Goon is busy too, and how he wishes that Fatty and the rest would keep out of his way!'

Tally-Ho Cottage: 'Mr Goon, as usual, finds that Fatty and the others are a great nuisance to him as he too, goes about trying to solve this most remarkable mystery.'

Holly Lane: 'Mr Goon is trying hard too, and finds that Fatty and the rest are very much in his way.'

Missing Man: 'The mystery is a very curious one, and Mr Goon the policeman, gets in Fatty's way - and Fatty is a nuisance to Mr Goon too!'

Strange Messages: 'Ern, Mr Goon's nephew, is here too, and as usual he is a great annoyance to his short-tempered uncle.'

Banshee Towers: Actually, Enid didn't manage to produce a foreword for this novel, possibly because her amazing powers were on the wane by then, and this was one of the subtle signals of this sad state of affairs. There is simply a list of previous titles in the series which I imagine an editor put together to be consistent with the earlier books. Naively, I had thought that this was Enid's publisher, Methuen, letting her down towards the end of her career. Now I see that it was Enid's own incredibly high standards faltering.

Apart from
Holly Lane, there are (at least) two other Mystery typescripts in existence...

Viking Star (Rob Canniff), a member of the Enid Blyton Society, bought the
Tally-Ho Cottage manuscript when Gillian Baverstock's 'Enid Blyton Archive' came up for auction in 2010. I have asked him if the foreword is indeed signed. I'm sure, if he has got my message, Rob will let me know.

The Enid Blyton Society itself owns the typescript of
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince. Tony visited Gillian around 1997. During the course of the visit she opened up a large cupboard and showed him a large quantity of typescripts from various series that she had. Tony asked Gillian if she could donate one or two carbon copies to the Society as she had such a large number and she readily agreed but told him that she would sort some out. It took two years and numerous reminders for Tony to actually get them, but she gave the Society one each of several major series apart from the Secret Seven of which Gillian could only find one typescript.

Gillian didn't actually move house for a few years after this and it was then that she told Tony in one of their phone conversations that she was having a major clear out as she was downsizing in the move. She told him that apart from a few examples, which she had kept for herself, she had thrown away all the typescripts. Tony was absolutely horrified and told her so, but she replied that they were of no value as they were only carbon copies. These were Enid's own file copies and all had any alterations on them, normally in blue pen. The ones that Gillian had kept were sold in the auction after her death and mostly bought by Seven Stories.

OK, so thanks to Tony Summerfield's friendship with Gillian and his alertness, EBS came to own the typescript of
Mystery of the Vanished Prince. Tony has had a quick look through it and observes that there are a number of alterations throughout. He goes on to say:

'What makes it a bit different from some of the other things that I have (some of which have many alterations with new bits pinned over the original) is that this appears to be a top copy and not a carbon copy. The signature is there on the foreword page, but even under a magnifying glass I can't tell if it is handwritten (it is in black whilst all her other writing is in blue) so I can't tell if she wrote it or whether she had a stamp with her signature and simply printed it on.'

That makes me ask myself the question: was the typescript of
Holly Lane that I scrutinised at Seven Stories a carbon or a top copy? Well, as I said about the contents page, it's a top copy that has been sent to the printer, worked on by him, and returned to the author, not a carbon copy.

Tony's reply makes me ask myself another question: Is the signature on the typescript of
Holly Lane an actual signature or a stamped one? Well, given the importance of what she thought she was doing - signing off her latest masterpiece - I'm pretty sure it's an authentic signature.

holly lane - Version 2

I know what that suddenly reminds me of. The way another genius used to sign off a piece of work he thought was 'finished' and that he was particularly pleased with:

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers (detail), 1887.

There is an irony here though. I do not think
The Mystery of Holly Lane is a very lively story. It's painstakingly plotted, but it doesn't quite burst into life at any point. Not so much Sunflowers, as above, more The Yellow House, below. The latter was a house in Arles that Van Gogh had high hopes of. Perhaps it stood beside Green Trees on Holly Lane!

Vincent Van Gogh, The Yellow House, 1887.

Actually, that leads me on to The Artist's Bedroom, a view of an interior within the Yellow House. Another cracking picture.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Artist's Bedroom, 1887.

Now we're getting somewhere.

I can see myself sitting on the chair by the door, my eye passing from the red bedspread to the book in my hands. I read from a vivid - indeed key - scene from chapter 13:

'Fatty examined the bedroom. The bed was a plain iron one with an ordinary wire spring. Nobody could ever hide money in that. The mattress was thin and poor. Money might have been hidden in that - but no, it would have to be sewn up again each time the old man took it out. He was too blind to do that. Anyway, it was clear that nobody had unsewn and then re-sewn the mattress. All the threads were dirty, and had obviously been untouched for years.

The pillow was thin and hard. Fatty took off the slip and looked at it. No - nobody had ripped the pillow up and re-sewn it.

He looked at the floorboards. There were no marks anywhere to show that any had been taken up. All were nailed down fast.

"Well, it beats me. WHY did somebody take the risk of coming at midnight and carrying out all the furniture, when the money had obviously been stolen?" Said Fatty. "Unless - unless - they were sure it was still there, somewhere in the furniture! They didn't like to risk coming and making a really good search, so they took
all the furniture, meaning to search it at leisure."

He thought about that. "No that seems silly. But then everything feels a bit silly. Buster, don't you think this is rather a
silly mystery?"'

I lie down on the red bedspread and let the vision of silliness take over me… The room with the green curtains and nothing else… The horse-box full of furniture and Marian, who knew that she had sewn the money into the green curtains in order to thwart Wilfred. And knowing too that Wilfred had put her in the horse-box with the furniture in order to get his wicked way. Everything, except the money, was in the horse box. Nothing, except the money, was in the house on Holly Lane. Horse-box…empty room… Empty room…horse box…

I laugh, both at the strength of the pattern and its silliness. I feel I am in good company. Laughing along with Fatty, Vincent and Enid.

Of course, as far as the
Artist's Bedroom was concerned, the money was hidden in plain sight. Only nobody but Vincent could see it. How many millions of pounds was the painting worth a few short years after he'd painted it? Only that's not so funny. Given the fate of the painter.


Internal illustrations from the original Methuen edition of
The Mystery of Holly Lane are taken from the Cave of Books on the Enid Blyton Society website, which is the work of Tony Summerfield.

Thanks to Google for the use of their mapping facilities.

Thanks to Seven Stories for enabling public access to the typescript of
The Mystery of Holly Lane.

Thanks to Viking Star for the scan of the foreword of
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage.

Fatty and the Find-Outers themselves delve into the issue of Forewords throughout the work of Enid Blyton in this essay.