Monday, 4 June 2007

Jill and those hens

I've now found the bit in which Jill does her anti-hen rant, and it's quoted below.

"I have said little or nothing about our hens, as they are Mummy's concern and not mine, though actually I could write a book about the way they play Mummy up. I consider them the most soul-less of animals that will not respond to overtures of friendship, and for that reason I will not have anything to do with them in life. They are at their best when dead. Also I think there is something rather repulsive about them." (Jill's Gymkhana, 1st edn, 1949, pg 87)

I did blink a little when I read it: it's quite amazingly strident. It doesn't to me read like something that Jill would say, and it's one of the more understandable abridgements. The piece does however, seem to have the ring of bitter personal experience, so I wonder if Ruby Ferguson had hideous hen experiences of her own? I doubt we'll ever know. I can't see "The Use of Hens as Plot Devices in Children's Literature" having a future as a PhD subject, but you never know.

8 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

Ooh, I know that quote and I've only ever had Jill paperbacks ..

Jane said...

Have you got an Armada paperback? The quote is in that. I've checked the 1973 Knight paperback (green cover) and 1993 Knight version and it's cut in both of those. I don't know whether the 1960s Knight version with Bonar Dunlop cover was cut or not, but I'd be fascinated to hear!

mutterings and meanderings said...

I will have a look tonight and let you know.

I have had various versions over the years - the current version I own refers to Black Boy as Danny Boy.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Mine is a 1968 'a green knight book'. What chapter, as the quote isn't on the same page as yours?

Jane said...

The chapter is called "Christmas". Your copy sounds like the one with the Bonar Dunlop cover.

callmemadam said...

Hens in children's literature. Aha, I have one. Christmas at Nettleford by Malcolm Saville. The vicarage children feel about hens pretty much as Jill does and resent feeding them. If they complain, Mother asks if they would prefer to do without eggs? (This is austerity Britain.) Part of the book's plot then revolves around a chicken thief.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Yes, mine has Bonar Dunlop illustrations and it does include that quote.

Anonymous said...

Jill books became part of my life as a young horse lover, and I still are today! Please keep the conversation going!