Friday, 14 February 2014

PBOTD: 14th February, Josephine Pullein-Thompson - Pony Club Camp

To celebrate Valentine's Day, here is one of the few British pony books to feature romance. It doesn't happen for Jill, (was she fonder of John in Jill's Riding Club than she was of James Bush? We will never know), Jackie  or Jinny, and if Collins had had their way, it wouldn't have happened with Noel and Henry either.

Collins first edition, 1957, illus Sheila Rose
Noel Kettering first appears in Six Ponies, published in 1946, and Josephine's first solo novel. In it Noel is really rather hopeless at first, and lacks all confidence in her abilities. She is more capable than she thinks, though, and succeeds rather better than the rest of the Pony Club at breaking in a New Forest pony. Henry Thornton saves his first appearance for Pony Club Team (1950), when he visits his uncle, Major Holbrooke's, the guiding star of the Pony Club. Henry is irritatingly superior, and thinks he's rather above the Pony Club and all their ways. Noel doesn't mind him, but he and Pony Club member John wind each other up so much they come to blows. Fortunately after this start, Henry thaws out and admits he is actually human, and he then becomes a mainstay of the series; able to recognise his faults, and keen on improving his riding. 

Collins Pony Library, 1973
Henry and Noel have always got on, but by the time the last book, Pony Club Camp (1957) comes along, the astute can see there's a bit more to their relationship than there was. And at the end, there is The Kiss - at least we think there is: here's the relevant bit:
"Henry spoke again into the silence that followed. 'I'll give you a kiss if you like,' he said.
'That's jolly nice of you,' answered Noel.
Yes, it is, isn't it?' said Henry, laughing."
Well, I like to think they did.
Armada, 1974
Pony Club Camp was Josephine Pullein-Thompson's most popular book. She said "I had the most fan mail ever after 'the kiss', with people begging please, please can they get married!", but Collins were not having it. They wanted characters who didn't really age, but who would go on and on, having adventure after adventure with no regard to the inconvenience of growing up at all. Josephine Pullein-Thompson didn't see it like that, and so the series ended. 

Josephine did answer those many letters, and in them she explained what happened next:
"Henry went into the Army. He joined a cavalry regiment and was stationed in Germany. There he rode in dressage competitions and fell in love with a German dressage rider. When Noel heard about it she was very shaken. Then, his miitary service over, he came back. By this time Noel had had several boy friends, but they got together again and eventually married.”
 So there you are. It did all work out. 

Armada, 1980
Pony Club Camp was first published in 1950 by Collins, with internal illustrations and cover by Sheila Rose. It was reprinted in that format, but the first major change came in 1973 when Collins reissued the book as part of its Collins Pony Library series, with a completely new cover. The paperback division of Collins, Armada, then printed the book twice: once with a pictorial illustration, and then in the format that has swept all before it: the photographic cover. The last reprint I know of was done by Swift, also, I believe, part of Collins, as a hardback with laminated boards.

Swift, 1987
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For much more on Josephine Pullein-Thompson, including my interview with her, try my website.


1 comment:

Joanna Kenny said...

This was my favourite series, I found the characters believable and the situations reasonable. I had the Armada one above with the illustration of (what I assume is) Noel and Henry on the front.