To celebrate what would have been Enid Blyton’s 102nd birthday today in 1999, the last full solar eclipse of the twentieth century took place, witnessed by millions of people in Europe and Asia. In the United Kingdom, people flocked to Cornwall – the best vantage point on the British mainland – to experience this strange phenomenon…. total darkness less than an hour before midday, as the moon completely blacked out the sun for around two minutes.
While thousands of people stood on Cornish beaches, some 40,000 people sailed from the south coast to watch it from the sea. In some areas – it won’t surprise you! – the eclipse was obscured by cloud, though many people reported that wildlife had been silenced by the event.
Ninety years earlier, in 1909, the SOS distress signal was used for the first time, transmitted by the steamer SS Arapahoe. Received by the United Wireless Telegraph Company station at Hatteras in North Carolina, the message was forwarded to the steamer company’s offices.
Just in case some of you youngsters don’t know who Enid Blyton was – shame on you – she was an English children’s writer whose books have been among the world’s bestsellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. They are still enormously popular and have been translated into almost ninety languages. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery stories and biblical narratives, but she is perhaps best remembered for her Noddy, Famous Five, and Secret Seven series.
Happy Birthday Enid!