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06.04.17

History of a Joke: Enid Blyton’s Been Keeping Busy

Posted 6th April 2017

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The following is the most popular tweet I have ever written. (In fact, the only tweet I’ve ever made which has seriously gone viral in any meaningful way.)

Since I made that tweet in 2011, I’ve seen variants of this joke appear in many different places. Martin Bazley reminds me of an especially popular one from 2013:

Now, I am categorically not accusing of anybody ripping off my joke. It’s quite an obvious gag, and anybody could come up with it independently. Moreover, I’m not entirely sure a single joke can be ripped off as such, although that’s a discussion for another day.

Still, my question is: was I the first person ever to make this joke?

The answer is: no, of course not. As pointed out by Brendon Connelly, this one beats me by exactly one month:

I was genuinely quite pleased that one was dug out, if only to prove early on that this was simply about tracing a joke back as far as possible, rather than my ego.

Can we go back further than October 2011? It seems so. Lee Spoons points me towards this Usenet post from 7th August 2010, by “Lachlan”:

Good to see Enid Blyton’s been keeping busy – OT

Here’s her new novel.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-10901734

I’ll let you click on that link yourself to get the full effect.

So, 7th August 2010 is the date to beat. My challenge to you: can you find any earlier examples of this joke?

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