Thursday, 27 March 2014

PBOTD: 27th March, Monica Edwards - The White Riders

Monica Edwards was one of my favourite authors as a child, but she was one of those who tantalised me. Armada, who published some of her books in paperback in the 1960s, liked to advertise other titles by their authors at the end of their books. So, I knew far more books existed than I had managed to get my hands on, but though I pleaded, I was not allowed to send away the 2/6 (12 1/2 p in today's money) needed to have a copy of a book sent to me. I am not quite sure why. Maybe my mother thought once I started sending away for books in the post, there'd be no stopping me. I have no idea what she meant. I only get one or two books a week that way now.


Collins, London, 1950, illus Geoffrey Whittam
However, denied that source when young, I had to rely on the local library as my only other source of supply for things horse. It only had No Mistaking Corker available as part of the Vanguard Book of Horses, and school had The Midnight Horse as part of a book of three pony stories. I was leant The White Riders  paperback by a friend, and I am ashamed to say I kept it. I did, when I was in the sixth form, have a fit of conscience and tried to give it back, but the friend's mother looked at me rather strangely and said she thought the moment had passed, and perhaps I'd better keep it. I can feel the shame now. I am quite sure Tamzin, Rissa, Roger and Meryon, would not have approved. Well, I'm not sure about Rissa.

The White Riders (1950) is one of the Romney Marsh series. The first books in the series, Wish for a Pony (1947), The Summer of the Great Secret (1948) and The Midnight Horse (1949) were all firmly horse-based, but Monica Edwards was keen not to be regarded as a pony book author. The White Riders saw the ponies moving out of the main focus to becoming enablers of the plot.
Puffin, paperback, 1956
In The White Riders (1950) Tamzin and her friends try and frighten off builders brought in to develop Cloudesley Castle by convincing them the area is haunted by wild and ghostly riders. Tamzin's Cascade is, helpfully, white, but an awful lot of white paint gets used before they succeed in convincing the developer that there are other, more suitable, places to build a holiday camp.

Goodchild, 1984 (revised)
The tension that existed then, between those who want to build and provide what they think people want (and what will make them money) and those who want things to remain wild and unsullied by man, is even more acute now. The landscape Monica Edwards loved so much around Rye Harbour in East Sussex, is to a certain extent protected, but the holiday camp Tamzin and her friends fought against invaded the village of Rye Harbour. The castle still stands, just about alone on its marsh.

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The White Riders was originally published in Collins in 1950, with a cover and illustrations by Geoffrey Whittam. It was printed again in 1960 by Collins in a slightly smaller edition with the same artwork. The Puffin paperback used a different cover illustration, again by Geoffrey Whittam, and was published in 1956. The last edition was published by Goodchild as a hardback in 1984. The text was revised and modernised by the author.

For much more on Monica Edwards, she has a section on my website.

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