It looks like the inhabitants of the Enchanted Wood may beat the Famous Five to the big screen, with Sam Mendes’ production company, Neal Street Productions, announcing they will be adapting all four of Enid Blyton’s book series featuring the Magic Faraway Tree. Enid Blyton wrote the four books, The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of the Faraway and Up the Faraway Tree, between 1939 and 1951.
“As a child I was captivated by The Faraway Tree books, and the magical worlds created by Enid Blyton,” said Neal Street Productions’ Pippa Harris.
“Re-reading the books today with my daughter, they completely retain their power to enchant. To be able to adapt these books for the big screen and introduce them to a new audience is a great honour.”
Marlene Johnson, head of the Enid Blyton Estate, said: “Enid Blyton was a passionate advocate of children’s storytelling, and The Magic Faraway Tree is a fantastic example of her creative imagination.”
“It’s a much loved title, so we’re very excited to announce we’ve signed an option agreement for development with Neal Street Productions. Many generations have grown up with The Magic Faraway Tree and today’s news provides a great chance to share the wonder of these stories through a new medium.”
This is the first time the Faraway Tree will be featured on the big screen. The Faraway Tree made its first appearance in The Yellow Fairy Book (The Queer Adventure) in 1936. The first chapter book The Enchanted Wood was published in 1939, followed by The Magic Faraway Tree in 1943 and The Folk of the Faraway in 1946. The first three books have generally remained in print since their publication. Up the Faraway Tree was published after a long gap in 1951, and featured two new characters, Robin and Joy. The book was written in strip-format rather than the traditional chapter book style. There was thirty years between each publication, in 1951 by Newnes, then in paperback in 1985 by Beaver Books, and has only recently come back into the fold with a 2014 paperback printing by Edgmont.
The Faraway Tree series remains one of Blyton’s most popular and most recognisable creations. The children’s original names of Jo, Bessie Fanny and Dick were changed to Joe, Beth, Frannie and Rick for the modern editions. The changes have caused much consternation amongst fans, but despite the many and repeated attempts by librarians, journalists and the BBC to quash Enid Blyton’s popularity with children, her vision lives on.