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The Three Golliwogs

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The Three Golliwogs

Postby Comerscroft » 21 May 2006, 21:32

Saw many copies of this book on ebay---something the PC brigade haven't latched on to yet, with the three gollies.......Golly, Woggie and Nigger.

Not one I remember as a child!
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The Three Golliwogs

Postby Tony Summerfield » 22 May 2006, 18:34

The PC brigade latched onto this one many years ago, it was one of the first books to be changed. The last edition that featured Golly, Woggie and Nigger was the Dean edition with a dustwrapper published in 1968. When it came out with a laminated cover in 1970 the names had already been changed to Waggie, Wiggie and Wollie (and these are the editions that are mostly offered on ebay). The next edition was the scarce Piccolo paperback in 1973 which also used these names.

The final edition of the book, which had already had its name changed to The Three Gollies was published as No. 18 in Dean's Reward Series in 1987. In 1992 a new No. 18 appeared, The Children at Green Meadows. The book was then rewritten and eventually republished by Award in 1994 with the title Three Bold Pixies.

A potted history of a book which will never be see again - except on ebay!!

Best wishes
Tony
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Postby Ian Regan » 30 Jun 2006, 04:40

I certainly wouldn't label the removal of the words 'golliwog' and 'nigger' as being politically correct. They are down-right offensive, full stop.

After reading this article on the origin of the Golliwog, I can understand how the Black community find her use of the term (as well as her use of the word 'nigger') offensive:

http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/golliwog/

I do not like the updating of the text in modern reissues of Blyton's work (such as the Famous Five in jeans, etc.), but in this instance, I think it is only right that certain offensive terms should be excised or replaced.

Blyton wasn't overtly racist, but I certainly wouldn't want children of mine to be exposed to some of the racist terms that were in common usage back in the 1940s and 1950s.

Ian.
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Postby Rob Houghton » 30 Jun 2006, 15:10

I would agree with the term 'nigger' - this is a highly offensive term, and a product of a bygone age. But the word golliwog is only as offensive as you take it to be. A Golliwog is just a funny creature after all, who just happens to be black. It is a bit like one of those 'Trolls' you can buy - which are pink skinned, but not at all offensive, as we recognise it is just a creature. Surely it's got more to do with the offensive name 'wog' than the full word golliwog.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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nigger is not a nasty term

Postby sooty lablanche » 30 Jun 2006, 21:31

hi
many black people call each other nigger without meaning to cause offence
terms are only offensive if they are meant to be or if they are taken to be
it is possible to call someone beautiful or handsome but with the right tone of voice be very offensive
surely this is an opportunity missed for good parents to sit down with their children and discuss these issues instead of attempting to sweep them under the carpet
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Postby Raci » 30 Jun 2006, 21:54

When I was little I loved the Three Golliwogs stories and never realised there was anything out of place with the name at all. However I did have the Dean version where the names had been changed to 'Waggie, Wiggie and Wollie'.

As much as I hate any alterations to text this is one instance where I can understand the name changes (maybe because I didn't grow up with the original names, they don't have the same memories for me).

However, to me, the word 'golliwog' is just the name of a toy. As an adult I now understand some people see the name in other ways but that is all it is to me. I would let my daughter read the version of the book I read and talk to her about it if she asked any questions, but if she didn't I wouldn't spoil her enjoyment of the story to explain things that might not otherwise have been an issue for her.
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Postby Anita Bensoussane » 30 Jun 2006, 22:37

Hi,

I let my children read The Three Golliwogs (Dean version) as well, but I did make a point of explaining to them that people have mixed feelings about golliwogs. Shortly after my daughter read the book, she had a "Book Day" at school where she had to dress up as a fictional character. She chose Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but if she'd asked to dress up as Wiggie (for instance) then I'd have had to say no. To me, golliwogs are just cheerful-looking toys, but I'm aware that some people find them offensive.

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Postby carpediem » 01 Jul 2006, 00:22

For an academic viewpoint, read:

http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/golliwog/

He slates Enid Blyton - as shown below - not surprisingly so:

The claim that Golliwogs are racist is supported by literary depictions by writers such as Enid Blyton. Unlike Florence Upton's, Blyton's Golliwogs were often rude, mischievous, elfin villains. In Blyton's book, Here Comes Noddy Again, a Golliwog asks the hero for help, then steals his car. Blyton, one of the most prolific European writers, included the Golliwogs in many stories, but she only wrote three books primarily about Golliwogs: The Three Golliwogs (1944), The Proud Golliwog (1951), and The Golliwog Grumbled (1953). Her depictions of Golliwogs are, by contemporary standards, racially insensitive. An excerpt from The Three Golliwogs is illustrative:


"Once the three bold golliwogs, Golly, Woggie, and Nigger, decided to go for a walk to Bumble-Bee Common. Golly wasn't quite ready so Woggie and Nigger said they would start off without him, and Golly would catch them up as soon as he could. So off went Woogie and Nigger, arm-in-arm, singing merrily their favourite song -- which, as you may guess, was Ten Little Nigger Boys."


Ten Little Niggers is the name of a children's poem, sometimes set to music, which celebrates the deaths of ten Black children, one-by-one. The Three Golliwogs was reprinted as recently as 1968, and it still contained the above passage. Ten Little Niggers15 was also the name of a 1939 Agatha Christie novel, whose cover showed a Golliwog lynched, hanging from a noose.
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your point is?

Postby sooty lablanche » 01 Jul 2006, 10:34

Hi carpediem
think about your post, it does not make sense

the 3 golliwogs, who you take to represent black people, walk off singing a song - ten little niggers/nigger boys - which you claim is racist because it is about killing black people
why would black people go off singing a racist song that was anti-blacks?

the whole golliwog = black person thing is in the minds of the pseudo-politically-correct

golliwogs are no more black people than teddies are real bears. to children they are nursery toys to be loved, played with, abused, discarded, grown out of, treasured or whatever just like all the other nursery toys

have you read Blyton's stories yourself? because she also writes about upstanding, respectable, business owning, helpful, friendly, kind golliwogs!

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Re: your point is?

Postby Keith Robinson » 01 Jul 2006, 14:42

sooty lablanche wrote:Hi carpediem
think about your post, it does not make sense

the 3 golliwogs, who you take to represent black people, walk off singing a song - ten little niggers/nigger boys - which you claim is racist because it is about killing black people
why would black people go off singing a racist song that was anti-blacks?


I think in this case Enid Blyton was more interested into the title than the origins of the poem. Ten Little Nigger Boys, at first glance, seems like an ideal poem/song for the golliwogs to be singing; in the author's mind this probably seemed funny and appropriate. I doubt Blyton even considered the origins.

I actually think this is very inappropriate in this day and age, and it's one of the few things I think should be updated. Same with the golliwogs' names. But other than that I guess golliwogs are offensive only if you think they're offensive and use them for offending. They were based on black dolls that kids in a very racist era used to throw stones at, which of course is not NOT a good thing! - but, regardless of its origins, the golliwog I grew up with was largely a harmless toy.

I personally wouldn't mind having one in the house as a toy for my daughter, but my wife might disagree; she doesn't look on them quite as favorably as me, and it might be because, being American, she didn't grow up with them. (Also because there's still quite a bit of racism around these parts in the Deep South - Georgia was, after all, basically one large slave prison. My wife, being a little more broad-minded than a lot of folks around here, and having travelled about the world, sees the "harmless fun" that white folks poke at black folks; naturally we both want to avoid our daughter getting caught up in that, so she may have a point about avoiding golliwogs!)
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should we punish the innocent?

Postby sooty lablanche » 01 Jul 2006, 16:30

"I think in this case Enid Blyton was more interested into the title than the origins of the poem. Ten Little Nigger Boys, at first glance, seems like an ideal poem/song for the golliwogs to be singing; in the author's mind this probably seemed funny and appropriate. I doubt Blyton even considered the origins."

what you say here is so true of EB. critics have often commented that she pleased children in her style of writing because she thought like a child. this threatens my point. surely if the book is written with completely innocent intentions and read completely innocently by children why should adults attempt to impose their racist views upon it?

whilst adults continue to view everything they see, hear and read from their own warped perspectives they will perpetuate racism. if adults took a leaf out of Blyton’s book and enjoyed things as they are innocently intended then they would have nothing to protect their children from because toys would be just toys, regardless of their origins, and all humans would be just people, regardless of their colour

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Re: should we punish the innocent?

Postby Keith Robinson » 01 Jul 2006, 18:41

sooty lablanche wrote:whilst adults continue to view everything they see, hear and read from their own warped perspectives they will perpetuate racism. if adults took a leaf out of Blyton's book and enjoyed things as they are innocently intended then they would have nothing to protect their children from because toys would be just toys, regardless of their origins, and all humans would be just people, regardless of their colour


Gosh, yes, if only life were that simple! On the other hand, whilst kids in the school playground may not fully understand the concept of racism, they DO understand that the spotty kid with the glasses is a nerd and will be picked on by bullies, and the fatso-girl with lurgy will be followed home from school and jeered at all the way. Some kids don't need the adult influence; they're going to pick on others anyway.
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yes, that is why books like these serve a purpose

Postby sooty lablanche » 01 Jul 2006, 18:49

i quite agree
children will always find some aspect to use as an insult, which is why it is so important for parents to take the opportunities offered by their children's reading matter to discuss how wrong it is to judge a person on their appearance - whether that is the colour of their skin or the size of their waist. those people who would 'protect' children from these issues by changing original literature just avoid the issues they should be confronting. should we ban all references to children wearing glasses? look out Harry Potter!
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Postby Rob Houghton » 02 Jul 2006, 15:27

When children are bullied, they are bullied for anything, not just the colour of their skin. they are bullied for the clothes they wear, the music they like, whether they are 'too fat' or 'too thin', where they live, who they live with, what they eat, the way they speak. Should all of these things be banned from childrens books?! As you say, it is up to the parents of the bullies to inform and educate their children into seeing people as individual and important as individuals.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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The Three Golliwogs

Postby Viv of Ginger Pop » 03 Jul 2006, 00:15

The black minstral doll may have been a racist symbol in the USA, but when he came to England through the drawing of Florence Kate Upton, he immediately became a hero. The English have not been slaves since the middle ages (400 years before Golly), Slavery had been abolished in the Empire for 100 years, and Britain has never had segregation laws, unlike the USA. The children had no pre-concieved ideas of slavery, and loved the new black toy. In the same way, a few years later, in a country that had abolished bear baiting and with no wild bears roaming the woods, they readily took to the Teddy Bear.

Gollywog was a made up name. WOG stands for Wiley Oriental Gentleman, and is an insult against Asians, not Africans. I think it was the alliteration within the word that children liked.

Within the Florence Kate Upton books, the Gollywogg quickly took over the series and had some remarkable adventures involving the high technolgy of the time, travelling by both motor car and airship. Children with no exposure to racism (in the USA sense) readily took to him as a much loved friend. Most children then had never met a black person, and still in Dorset schools there are children who only see people of other backgrounds on TV.

I believe that the children who took their golliwog to bed became the more tolerant members of British society, welcoming to people of other cultures. It was not the racist thugs who cuddled their gollies.

I also think that the political standpoint of Jim Crowe is given away by the sentence "travelling to such "exotic" places as Africa..." http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/golliwog/


Exotic means colourful, unusual and from abroad. It is used by people from the Indian sub continent about Britain. 100 years ago, and even now, Africa is exotic to most people in Europe and America, so why does Jim Crowe want to pretend that it isn't? I think that he is the sort of person who likes to find racism wherever he looks; should someone point out that Blyton has children wear SS badges he would think her a Nazi sympathiser!

The latest offering for young children being trailed on the BBC is a series where no one character looks like any human being you are ever likely to meet. There is no stereotyping of the number of eyes they may have, their bodyshape, and the more vibrant their colour the better. Is this really an improvement?

I have only read the re-writes of the Amelia Jane books, where the friendly, capable, brave leader of the toys who stands up to the bullying (white) rag doll has been changed from a gollywog to an action man (toy soldier). Yet another positive black character has been disposed with.

Best wishes

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