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