Saturday, 1 February 2014

PBOTD: 1st February, Patricia Leitch - A Pony of Our Own

Patricia Leitch is a giant of the pony book world: but although she's best known for her iconic Jinny series, she wrote fifteen other pony stories before the Jinny books, starting in 1960 with To Save a Pony. A Pony of Our Own was her second book, and was published in 1960.

Patricia Leitch didn't have her own pony until she was grown up, so she was fully aware of the agonies suffered by the pony-less child. A Pony of Our Own has a pair of children, Jean and Stuart Donaldson who slog their way through part time jobs, slowly and painfully accumulating enough money to buy their longed-for pony. They're a remarkably focused pair, and you can't help but will them on. The pony they eventually buy is a black Highland, Kirsty.

Blackie & Son first edition, 1960, illus Constance Marshall
 Patricia Leitch had her own Kirsty, a Highland cross mare. I'm not certain which came first: A Pony of Our Own, or Kirsty, but Patricia's mare did inspire the Highland ponies who appear in the Jinny books.

Blackie, 1966
Patricia's Kirsty ran wild on the moors until she was five, when she was sent to a farm in West Kilbride in payment of a debt. Her new owner wanted Kirsty as a ride and drive pony to pull a milk float, and be ridden by his son. Sadly, when the boy outgrew her (though it's doubtful he actually rode her), Kirsty's life shrank to four stable walls: she spent day and night there and was so traumatised by the experience she never got over it, Patricia bought her as an unbroken pony, very set in her ways. The breaking in process was difficult, and nearly broke Pat, but they settled down together, and roamed the moors that were to be the inspiration behind the Jinny books.
Knight, 1971
Knight, 1979
A Pony of Our Own is an unusual book: it's had three publishers. It was first published by Constable in 1960, and was illustrated by Constance Marshall. The next edition was published by Blackie as part of its orange reprint series in the 1960s. The last two editions were published by Knight books, the paperback division of Hodder & Stoughton. The 1971 edition has a rather romanticised picture of a black Highland - the last used the photographic style fashionable in the 1970s.

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For much more on Patricia Leitch, including an interview, try my website.

2 comments:

Fiona Moate said...

I admit I am in two minds about the paintings on the front of the Blackie Pony Book editions. A nice composition this time, but who is leading the pony? He looks too grown up to be the character in the book.

Jane Badger said...

Some of the paintings I like - but yes, I agree this one isn't quite right for the subject matter!