PBOTD 9th March: Josephine Pullein-Thompson - Black Nightshade

The Pullein-Thompson sisters started their writing careers with short stories and articles to which they all contributed. They produced a family magazine, The Grove, which took its name from the house where they grew up and had their first experiences of riding. The sisters' first book, It Began with Picotee, published in 1946, was a joint effort, but after it appeared, the sisters went their separate literary ways, and it was another thirty years before they collaborated again.

Hodder & Stoughton, 1978
With the Black Beauty's family series, they did not write jointly, but all wrote historical stories loosely related by being about horses from Black Beauty's family. And all the horses were, of course, black.

Knight, paperback, 1978
A few of the stories were published separately, including today's title, Black Nightshade, but most of the stories can only be found in compilations. In a move which can only confuse the collector, different stories appear in different collections.
Chancellor, 1986
Josephine Pullein-Thompson's first Black Beauty story, Black Ebony (1975) didn't stray too far from the world of the original Black Beauty: Black Ebony is Black Beauty's  younger brother, and has a life pretty much like his older brother's, except that his descent is a literal one: he ends up in the mines.

Red Fox, 2001
Black Nightshade moved rather further back. It is one of the earlier stories, historically, and features a racehorse born during the reign of George III. As well as racing, he has a life of crime as a highwayman's mount, experiences the Industrial Revolution as the mount of a factory owner, and then plays a part in the Napoleonic War.


Black Nightshade was first published as part of Black Beauty's Family in 1978. The other stories were: Black Romany (Diana) and Blossom (Christine). Black Nightshade was published as an individual volume in paperback by Knight in 1978. That was its only appearance as a single story. It has had at least two more outings, published by Chancellor in 1986 as Black Beauty's Family, with the stories in the original collection and a further three; and as More from Black Beauty's Family in a paperback edition from Red Fox in 2001, this time containing the original three stories.

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Josephine Pullein-Thompson has a full section on my site, including an interview. For more on the complicated publishing history of Black Beauty's Family, there's a section on that, too.


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