Recent search terms for this blog included references to Sir Humphrey but also “pamela cox” malory towers bill clarissa bedrooms (all in one). I have documented elsewhere the fact that Bill and Clarissa allegedly sleep in separate bedrooms in the sequels, where they are living together, horsey-spinster-style, so I presume it was a fruitful search for whoever was looking.
And then I also got an email from someone wanting to know what I thought of the ‘homosexual fandom’, particularly asking whether I felt that people writing Bill/Clarissa fic were just lucky that the copyright holders hadn’t clamped down on them yet.
Well. No. There’s been a lot of fairly crazy discussion about fanfiction in the last few months, and indeed there always has been, but – dude! Fanfiction is a terrific thing. It’s about engaging with and commenting on the existing text – it’s sort of like postcolonial literature but infinitely more interesting. And why exactly should Bill/Clarissa be a less valid concept to play around with than anything else? There’s Malory Towers pro fic, those mad German sequels, in which Darrell goes all Matron-y – which if you ask me is a far crazier reading of and response to the text (in which the girls leave the school to go off and have careers, and not just traditional caring/nurturing ones either) than suggesting that Bill and Clarissa might have been having a bit of a thing down in the stables. We don’t know that they weren’t, and the only reasons to think that it’s ‘wrong’ to contemplate such a thing usually involve some variation of ‘well, Enid Blyton clearly never intended such a thing!’ and ‘these are children’s books!’
Fanfiction is not an editorial introduction nor is it an author biography. It is commentary. Criticism. A response. A reflection. It is not included in the original text. It may well influence a reading of the original text, but like criticism you can choose whether or not to read it – it’s not like you’re going to be tricked into reading it, as though Blyton fanfic writers are lurking around every corner thrusting sheets of schoolgirl porn into the hands of unsuspecting children. Fanfiction, much more so than anything you’ll find in a bookshop, is extraordinarily good at warnings and markers to indicate potentially unwanted content. And it also knows the difference between ‘sexual content’ and ‘homoerotic content’, which apparently anti-fanfic types don’t. I’m sure there’s a Venn diagram out there somewhere that conveys this.