The Enid Blyton Society
The Three Golliwogs
Back Book 8 of 17 in this category Next

Book Details...

First edition: 1944
Publisher: George Newnes
Illustrator: Joyce A. Johnson
Category: One-off Character Books
Genre: Fantasy
Type: Short Story Books

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
List of Contents
Review by Terry Gustafson

  1. Three Bold Golliwogs
    Story: Sunny Stories No.36 Sep 17, 1937
  2. The Golliwogs' Handkerchief [The Three Golliwogs Again]
    Story: Sunny Stories No.54 Jan 21, 1938
  3. The Three Golliwogs' Birthday
    Story: Sunny Stories No.62 Mar 18, 1938
  4. A Muddle of Golliwogs
    Story: Sunny Stories No.69 May 6, 1938
  5. The Gollies Make a Pie
    Story: Sunny Stories No.87 Sep 9, 1938
  6. The Three Gollies up a Tree!
    Story: Sunny Stories No.131 Jul 14, 1939
  7. The Three Golliwogs at the Station [The Three Golliwogs Again]
    Story: Sunny Stories No.214 Feb 14, 1941
  8. The Three Golliwogs Have Some Fun
    Story: Sunny Stories No.247 Oct 3, 1941
  9. The Three Golliwogs and the Cats
    Story: Sunny Stories No.280 Jul 17, 1942
  10. The Three Golliwogs and Mr. Tubby
    Story: Sunny Stories No.284 Sep 11, 1942
  11. The Golliwogs Say Good-bye
    Story: Specially Written
[ ] indicates the original title

1st edition cover, illustrated by Joyce A. Johnson
Three Bold Golliwogs!

That's what they are and they're unhappy because Angela doesn't like their black faces. I suppose that could be valid if Mistress Angela was one of those little girls who prefer the golden haired class of toy to whom they can possibly relate a little more, or perhaps she would prefer a bonny sailor doll who could take the place of an imaginary brother. Teddy bears are still popular in nurseries though - notwithstanding the fact that a plethora of electronic and computerish New Age toys are trying to take over. During Enid Blyton's time the golliwog was also standard fare and despite a noticeable drop some years ago, their popularity has once again increased and that might be due to the fact that a host of people don't like being told what's acceptable and what's not.

Toys are meant to be used but Angela never plays with her golliwogs and because of this the other nursery inhabitants follow suit so the three gollies have a very boring and unloved life. They decide to abscond and look for a cottage of their own - and one morning that's exactly what they do.

Gold is struck almost immediately because on the other side of the hill they find a dear little cottage with yellow walls, a blue gate, and honeysuckle growing all over BUT there's smoke coming from the chimney. What a nuisance! Here now is the feature that plays such an important part in most of the tales about these particular characters: they're alike as three peas in a pod. Their names are different of course - Golly, Woggie, and Nigger but you can't tell one from t' other because they have similar clothing and their faces are round and black with just two eyes, a mouth, and black hair sticks straight up from their heads. Europeans often wonder how Chinese and the darker races can tell each other apart and maybe, from their point of view, it's vice versa but there are of course subtle differences; although not in the case of The Three Golliwogs.
In the first story, the golliwogs find the house their hearts are set on is occupied by Clikity-Clok, a gnome and a bad one to boot. They're apprehensive because he may not let them live in his house so as Nigger's the bravest he walks up to the door by himself and knocks. A bad gnome does bad things and what happens is that Nigger is grabbed by Clikity-Clok and locked in a cupboard so that he can be sold to old wizard Nim-Nam when he visits. Eventually, as Nigger hasn't returned, it's Woggie who marches up to the front door and blim-blams the knocker. Clikity-Clok is surprised and rather scared when he sees whom he thinks is Nigger back on is front doorstep ... hadn't he just locked him up? Woggie guesses by the gnome's reaction that he's been mistaken for Nigger so the deception is continued but unfortunately Clikity-Clok grabs him as well and locks him into a chest thinking that he's definitely got the fellow imprisoned this time. It seems not though, because a third rap on the door proves to him that the golly is still free ... well at least Golly is. This is too much for the gnome who tears out of his house to get Nim-Nam and there's more mistaken identities when he returns with his wizard friend. It must be magic ... powerful magic, and the resulting action performed by Clikity-Clok and Nim-Nam is most beneficial to the three golliwogs. Say no more!

2. The three golliwogs have only one large white hanky between them and there comes a time when Golly has a cold and needs the handkerchief for a sneeze, but where is it? A hunt takes place and it turns out their hanky has been used as a substitute for many things such as a tray cloth when Mother Hoppit called round to tea and as a duster for the mantelpiece, and even a head scarf for Golly to keep the dirt out of his hair when he was beating a carpet. The gollies try to recall what else they've used their handkerchief for recently and the list lengthens but eventually they manage to run it to earth, and in order not to have this happen again, Nigger comes up with what could be called a Very Good Idea.

3. It appears the golliwogs are triplets because their birthday is due on Saturday and all the invitations have been sent. Each day they tear off a page of the calendar and now, knowing Enid Blyton's train of mind, we can start suspecting a 'calendar connection!' On the big day when they wake up to celebrate their anniversary, presents are exchanged while they're still in bed - scarves, handkerchiefs (they'll be handy), and boxes of peppermints. It's raining but that doesn't dampen their spirits as they dress and keep a watch out for the postman who finally arrives and presents them with a bill for the hat that Woggie bought recently. Does nobody love them? Nigger's rather miffed and feels like cancelling the party but overall, the golliwogs are kind souls and Woggie reminds him that just because people aren't nice to them there's no reason to be horrid back although disappointment still reigns over the lack of cards and parcels via His Majesty's Royal Mail. Afternoon arrives with still more rain and when the golliwogs have changed into their very best clothes a further glitch occurs - the cakes haven't been delivered. Looks like one of the gollies will have to slip off to the bakers in the rain after the guests have arrived, but the time rolls on to four o'clock and there's still no one in sight save Mister Come-Along, but he's just visiting the pillar-box. What a rotten miserable day and eventually, resigning themselves to the fact that no one's coming to their birthday, the gollies have an early night but instead of thinking ill thoughts, they vow in unison to be even nicer to people in the future - 'As You Sow, So Shall Ye Reap.' Morning sunlight shines brightly into their bedroom the next day and after they've dressed there's a thundering Rat-a-Tat-a-Tat-Tat on the front door. Who is it? Not the Postman surely. Not on a Sunday!

4. One day Woggie and Nigger go for a walk to Bumble-Bee-Common - Golly isn't quite ready so he's going to catch them up. Singing their favorite song which is of course 'Ten Little Nigger Boys,' Woggie and Nigger stroll through the village and meet with an accident. Edward Bear is flying along on his scooter and despite trying to avoid the two, he smashes into Nigger - Thud-Bang-Kerplonk! Edward's all right because he's so fat but Nigger's lying there in the road with several bumps and bruises so Woggie rushes off to fetch a doctor and then gallops home to prepare Nigger's bed for him. That's all very well but Nigger's not completely out of action. Finding the road a little hard to relax on he gets up and limps off towards the cottage. Meanwhile Golly who's finished whatever he was doing, sets off to join the others on the common just as Doctor Longbeard drives down the street looking for a potential patient. Of course Golly would, just at that very moment, drop his collection of cigarette cards that he happens to have brought along, and now there he is on his hands and knees in the road picking them up. The good doctor who's looking for a hurt golliwog naturally assumes that Golly is Nigger and starts administering first aid to the surprised and rather cross 'patient.' Take it from there.

5. A blackberry-and-apple pie is quite a tasty dish and that's exactly what the golliwogs will be having for their next meal because they've baked one. Each thinks how nice the pie would be with some cream and so they individually resolve to slip down to the shop and bring some back as a surprise for the others. Golly is the first to take a jug and nip off to the milkman who fills it up with cream. Later, when the other two are having a sleep in the garden Woggie trots off to get some cream from a rather surprised milkman who is even more taken aback when the golliwog claims not to have bought some a short time ago. A little later Nigger wakes up and sets off in turn, completely oblivious to the fact that jugs of cream have already been spirited into the larder and the china cupboard. It's easy to see where this is going but despite the confusion, it comes out all right in the end.

6. Walking in Hallo Wood one day, the golliwogs decide to take in a spot of climbing and very soon three trees have heads poking out from their very tops. Great time had by all and then Golly who's extremely comfortable lying about in the branches, falls asleep. Soon Nigger has to get moving because he wants to visit Aunt Coal-Black on his way home so he climbs down and disappears. A little later, Woggie, who hasn't been able to rouse Golly from his slumber, climbs down as well seeing it looks like a shower is due. Golly, still asleep in his tree, dreams he's being watered by a sprite and then wakes up to find it's started raining so he attempts to climb down. Unfortunately he gets stuck and his yells for help drift to the ears of Mister Fussy who happens to be walking through the woods underneath his big umbrella. Looking up into the tall chestnut tree he spies a figure hanging from a branch and asks a question that Golly thinks is quite idiotic. "How did you get up there?" It's quite a reasonable enquiry even though the answer may be fairly obvious but Golly becomes quite cross. "Do you think I flew up or used roller skates? Get a ladder quickly!" Kind Mister Fussy nips off to Mister Brick's yard and finding a long ladder there, he starts hauling it back. Woggie, who's been sheltering from the rain in a woodman's hut and is now on his way home, meets Mister fussy and once again the duplication syndrome takes effect - old Mister Fussy naturally assumes he's Golly and has somehow managed to get down from the tree. He says as such and a certain amount of confusion ensues when Golly says he was never stuck up a tree. Mister Fussy becomes quite angry ... all that trouble to fetch a heavy ladder and here's the chap saying he wasn't even up a tree. He chases Woggie off and after returning the ladder, makes his way back to the woods only to discover what? You're right - a stuck golly. Away he goes to get the ladder again and as he's lugging it to the woods once more he meets Nigger coming out of Aunt Coal-Black's house. This has the makings of a very funny story and if you like violence, there's some of that as well!

7. Golly's on the bus because he's going to spend a night with his Aunt Keziah at her house and after Woggie and Nigger have waved him away at the station, they both return home. Nigger will be leaving for town tomorrow as he's got to be fitted for a new suit so Woggie says he'll see him off on the train and then wait for Golly to arrive back on the bus. When the next day comes however, Nigger's late and has to hurry like blazes if he wants to be on time so Woggie decides not to accompany him - he'll walk to the station more sedately and meet Golly's bus when it arrives. Meanwhile Nigger has arrived at the terminal but the station-master won't allow him on the train until he purchases a ticket. "Haven't got time ... otherwise I'll miss the train," pants Nigger but the stationmaster is adamant ... no ticket, no ride! The engine starts puffing and moving out so Nigger makes a frantic dodge around the portly official and manages to jump into a carriage as the train pulls away from the station, leaving behind a very angry station-master sitting on the platform after being wacked by an open door as it passed him. Threats are yelled out as the angry man gets up and makes his way past the grinning porters and who should he see about to buy some chocolate from a dispensing machine? Nigger? No, we know where he is. Golly? Now wait a minute, let me think. No, I believe Golly is the one due back from his auntie's place, so it could only be Woggie. The station-master doesn't know what we know however, and to him, that innocent-looking person buying himself some chocky is the "enemy." He must have jumped off the train. "Oh-Ho!" Now it's fireworks time." Making a growly noise deep down in his throat he lunges at poor Woggie who is quite shocked when he's accused of not buying a ticket and pushing past the station master to board the train. Understandably, he's not very polite to the enraged man and, managing to slip out of his grasp, he rushes off. After a chase, the station-master is lucky enough to catch him and imprison the poor golliwog in a luggage office where there's a barred window. Looking out into the yard, Woggie sees Golly step down from his bus and look round for someone to greet him. Neither of his friends are there, so what does he do? Naturally, to extend the confusion Enid Blyton has him walking up to ask the station-master if anyone's come to meet him. One can but picture the man's face when he see's Woggie, sorry - Nigger, no - Golly ... that's right - it's Golly but luckily, with the bus-conductor's confirmation, Golly's able to convince the angry and flustered station-master that he's only just arrived. There's more to come of course because Woggie's still locked up and Nigger's due back on the train after his visit to the tailor. Perhaps one could feel a little sympathy for the station-master who seems well on his way to becoming a nervous wreck!

8. The paper hasn't arrived this morning so Golly says he'll go and fetch it. Taking a short-cut across the fields he passes a house from where there can be heard loud howls, and looking over the fence he spies Peeky the goblin hitting a little dog. Peeky tells Golly the animal had chased his cat but Golly informs him that dogs always chase cats just as cats chase birds. Peeky takes not the slightest bit of notice despite Golly's common- sense remark, and he hits the dog again. That's too much for Golly - he jumps the fence, takes the stick from Peeky, sets the dog free, and pushes the goblin over. Peeky works himself up into a fury and threatens that if ever Golly comes back he'll lock him in the coal-cellar for a whole day but Golly rubbishes such an announcement whereby Peeky mutters a few magic words and grows to twice his height! Well, that's a bit much isn't it? Golly's off over the fence and tearing home as fast as he can run. There's a picture of him slumped in a chair with Woggie asking where the paper is. The paper? Well we know why he hasn't brought the paper back and after Golly explains what happened, a decision is made: Peeky should be punished. A plan is formulated and it naturally involves a bit of 'duplicating.' Golly will knock at the goblin's door and make a cheeky remark - the presumption being that Peeky will lock him up. Woggie will visit a half minute later pretending to be Golly and that he's escaped from the coal-cellar. When Peeky takes 'back', Golly will slip out in the darkness and if Nigger turns up as well, they'll have one frustrated goblin on their hands! "Frustrated" is right and if they'd had TV in those days the six o'clock news would have begun with: "We have to announce that Peeky the goblin has packed his bag and disappeared after experiencing a day of terror at his residence."

9. Someone or something has nibbled the cheese! Golly discovers this when they're preparing dinner and as one wouldn't have to be a world famous detective to deduce that mice were somewhere in the equation, Golly is quite confident of his deduction. Woggie comes up with a possible solution to the problem - they need a cat, and so it is agreed. Golly finds a likely prospect when he's out shopping for some cigarettes. He spots a beautiful black feline on the counter but the shop-man won't sell her; however, he says that Golly can have one of her kittens for free provided she's given a good home. Golly agrees, and taking one of the batch, he sets off to fetch his boots from the cobbler. Meanwhile back at the house, Woggie thinks he'll go out and buy a paper so he sets off for the same shop that Golly visited. The proprietor gives him the paper and asks after the kitten - thinking he's Golly. Woggie of course denies that he received a kitten and gets quite uptight when the shopkeeper insists that he did. However Woggie suddenly remembers they need a cat and asks if the man has one to spare. "No," he doesn't want another because he never had a kitten in the first place but he'd like one now - so the remaining kittens are brought out and Woggie makes his choice then disappears to pay a call at the Tree-House. Nigger, all by himself at home becomes bored and of course everyone knows that a good cure for boredom is 'sweets,' so it's off to the shop for two-penny's worth. The exchange between him and the proprietor is rather strained when Nigger's asked how the kitten is. Words like 'silly' and 'mad' feature in the conversation and perhaps a little head-scratching but Nigger also remembers they need a cat and, despite a modicum of ill feeling and puzzlement, he leaves the shop with kitten number three. They say it all comes out in the wash so let's leave it at that!

10. In the golliwogs' village lives an elderly lady called Amanda and her nephew, Mr. Tubby, has come to stay for a few days. Mr. Tubby has a habit of bumping into people because he doesn't often look where he's going, especially if he's under his umbrella and that happens to be the case right now as he walks down the golliwogs' street. Here's Golly running for his bus ... he always has to run due to his habit of never leaving on time, and of course there's a collision. Mr. Tubby is very angry and in a reprimanding mood, but Golly hasn't time to listen because he's late for the bus. He dashes away leaving the disgruntled Mr. Tubby who gets up from the pavement and continues his walk. Meanwhile Woggie, who's just left a shop and is laden with parcels, is rushing home so that he'll be able to cook the dinner on time. He doesn't see Mr. Tubby and collides with the unfortunate fellow - Bang, Crash! His parcels fall all over Mr. Tubby as he sits down on the pavement once again - this time with two eggs breaking over his head! NOW, he's really furious and asks Woggie if he's bumping into him on purpose and Woggie, of course, doesn't know what he's talking about because it's the first time he's ever met him. A shouting match takes place before they both get up and march off. That afternoon it's raining so Mr. Tubby takes his umbrella out with him and it so happens that Nigger is off to fetch a book from the library but he has to hurry because the doors close at 3 o'clock. That's two people hurrying along with umbrellas and there's a fairly good chance that duplicity is about to occur - or should it be 'triplicity?'

11. It needs to be confirmed as to whether 'Lady Isabel Dumps' is recorded in Burke's Peerage but lately, she's been staying in the Golliwogs' neighbourhood and has so far opened two Sales of Work and also attended a play put on by the village children who entertained her so delightfully that she presented each of them with a box of chocolates. She's also visited the poor old ladies and presented each with a red shawl and a pound of tea so, altogether, Lady Isabel Dumps is a very charitable person. However her month is up so she's about to leave and the three golliwogs think it's a pity because, although they haven't spoken to her, the lady is quite a treasure to have in the community. She's going to be given a great big send-off and Golly, Woggie, and Nigger decide to be at the ceremony in order to present her with red-roses from their garden. When the morning comes, three roses are picked and the golliwogs set off only to find that Woggie and Nigger have forgotten their clean hankies and anyone with manners knows that you can't go to a ceremony without a clean handkerchief so the two go back home to fetch them and Golly carries on by himself. The band is playing loudly and there's Golly rushing up to Lady Isabel Dumps and presenting her with his rose for which she thanks him very much before feeling in her pockets and bag to find she's left her gloves at the house where she was staying. Can Golly fetch them for her? Can he? You bet he can, and the golliwog rushes off quite thrilled to be doing something for the eminent woman. This action has to be repeated of course because, remember, there are three golliwogs so now it's Woggie's turn to rush off to the station with his rose (and clean hanky) - Nigger's not with him because he's stayed back to pour out some milk for the cats (the kittens must have grown up by now). Woggie arrives at the venue and going up to Lady Isabel he thrusts his rose into her hand. A second rose from whom she thinks is the same golliwog rather puzzles the good woman but what she really needs is her gloves. "Did you get my gloves for me?" she whispers to Woggie. It's now Woggie's turn to look puzzled but when Lady Isabel asks him to fetch them for her he scuttles off to do her bidding. Another surprise for the elderly Lady is fairly predictable because Nigger's finished dispensing milk to the pets and is now hurrying off with his rose.

When you think about it, those lookalike golliwogs lead interesting and eventful lives!

Admittedly, the golliwogs acquired their house in what could be regarded as an ulterior manner but as we're talking 'Airy-Fairyland,' their laws and mores have to be interpreted somewhat differently from ours.

Twins and triplets can supply plenty of material for quirky interludes and many readers will remember Pat and Isabel O'Sullivan in the St. Clare's books who used their look-alikeness to advantage a few times ... or 'disadvantage,' depending on how you view it.

Other toys have run away from an unhappy environment. Tiptoe and Jolly (Tales of Toyland) did so and in the Boys' and Girls' Story Book #6, all of Millie and Tom's toys absconded because of bad treatment!

4. Like the little rewards we used to find in boxes of breakfast cereals, cigarette cards were found in packets of fags. Often they'd feature pictures of sporting personalities or film stars and many people collected them.

'Edward Bear' is a familiar name to those who have read Alan Milne's delightful stories.

5. The jug of cream needed for the Golliwogs' pie cost 6d. which would be about 30p these days.

When Nigger was having words' with the milkman and becoming not a little angry, it's stated that he "would have gone red if his face hadn't have been black." A person telling a lie can be laid bare by facial colouring (amongst other tiny clues) so it might be difficult to detect by looks alone, as to whether or not a person of African or Indian extraction is telling a fib. If this was the case, someone of Fatty's persuasion might need to rely on other physical characteristics when questioning such a person - perhaps a little squirming here and there, or lack of eye contact ('Fatty' is an Enid Blyton detective).

7. There's a perfectly reasonable sounding Aunt Fanny in the Blyton collection of books. There's also an Aunt Polly and an Aunt Rose, and an Auntie Lou ('Look Out Secret Seven'), and an Aunt Amanda" (this book), but who or what was the inspiration for Aunt "Keziah?" It actually is a name but probably more recognizable by Eastern Fans, although an English version is down as 'Kizzy.'

9. The Tree-house that Woggie visited is inhabited by none other than Josie, Click, and Bun who have played their part in many EB tales although they may be more familiar with younger readers.

10. In the title picture of 'The Three Golliwogs and Mr. Tubby,' there doesn't appear to be any rain falling although Mr. Tubby is holding an umbrella valiantly against what might be a strong wind. Golly, who is rushing out of the gate, has no umbrella at all.

Contrary to the stated fact, It doesn't seem to be a case of Mr. Tubby bumping into people - but the other way round.

Later in the tale, Mr. Tubby and the three golliwogs settle their differences and at one stage Golly addresses the elderly man by the name of a very well-known detective! Incidentally, like Mr. Twiddle (also of Enid Blyton fame), Mr. Tubby's very easily confused and when invited to tea on a weekly basis he addresses his new friends as Goggie, Nolly, and Wigger!

The artist, Joyce Johnson, drew some excellent pictures for the book - particularly of the golliwogs themselves. Jet black faces with spiky hair and bright eyes lends a degree of cuteness to the figures. The additional characters are also quite reasonably drawn. Like authors, artists seem to have their peaks and troughs and the Johnson pics in other books may reflect this. I placed her in the Middling to Very Good category with the Robin Hood (EB's Robin Hood Book) illustrations being in the latter class. Rene Cloke's work can be recognized quite easily and she also produced some very attractive figures - one needs only to look at the cover of the 'Dean' edition to confirm this. Maybe golliwogs are easy to draw because Alan Cracknell's front picture for the 'Piccolo' edition is also very acceptable (the illustrations inside are the same as those in the 'Dean' edition). A clone called 'The Three Gollies' was produced at the beginning of the nineties and it contains the Rene Cloke pictures in monochrome (orange). If you crave the original and authentic books then steer clear of reprints after about 1968 because there have been changes.

Opening up a book called The Three Golliwogs by Enid Blyton that appeared in the late 1960's I found the same characters but their names had been changed to 'Wiggie,' 'Waggie,' and 'Wollie!' How strange. Adults with their funny ideas had decided to change bits and pieces in order that young persons would not relate misguidedly to certain words or incidents that might harm their sensitivities. Fresh from telling kids that "Sticks and stones may break your bones etc," the grown-ups rebelled against their own philosophy and took the contrary stance. It's easy to understand why the author said she took no notice of disparaging remarks made by people over the age of twelve or thereabouts because EB's world is an innocent one and should be protected from adults who attach corrupt connotations to words that were used without any guilt whatsoever and, so saying, it's not surprising there are continual requests for the 'original' volumes.

Because of Enid Blyton's popularity many of her works have been brought 'up to date' but why couldn't the distributors of books, or especially movies, include a note such as: "Adapted from the Original Enid Blyton Tales," rather than attributing the altered material exclusively to the author? It is also rumoured that abridgments have been necessary because the author reported on children experiencing violent incidents (by today's standards) and that she even despised certain classes of people. The denigration of innocence is still alive and kicking it appears but how could anyone find nastiness in the names of the charming little toys that are a feature of this book?

The psychologists hold that no child's sensibilities can be damaged by the truth so why cannot a seven year old read 'The Mountain of Adventure' and simply ask assistance if there is a word he or she doesn't understand? It seems only a matter of time before many books will be so changed that legal proceedings may be necessary to decide whether or not a revamped tale can actually by attributed to Enid Blyton.

The word 'bloody' hasn't been banned outright but it's an utterance supposedly not to be used in front of children, elderly ladies, and 'holy' people and they in turn, who often indulge, must not exclaim 'bloody' in front of us. It can also mean something covered in good old-fashioned 'blood,' and in that sense is permissible and so it is with the golliwogs' names. Back in the Forties the references were pure, and still are, and it's time a censorial society including the vociferous individuals who need a 'Cause' to pursue (for something to do) came round to understanding this. If they can't stomach it then let them come up with new interpretations for 'unacceptable' words such as the police did in the USA when a segment of society took to calling them 'pigs.' The substitute: Pride, Integrity, and Guts.

Round 1994, Three Bold Pixies became available. Same plots, different title, different characters, and different words sprinkled throughout. It's a pity this kind of PC had to wangle its way into an EB world that has for so long resisted such nonsense.

Golliwogs are lovable black toys, not Negroes. Teddy bears are also toys, but if there happens to be a naughty one in my books for younger children, this does not mean I hate bears. (Enid Blyton)