Katharine Hull (1921-1977)

Pamela Whitlock (1920-1982)

These two authors cannot really be separated as their novels were all written by the pair of them in collaboration. Like so many pony book writers, these two started young and the publishing of their first book has an almost fairy tale quality. As teenagers they vowed to write a book together, and as their literary hero was Arthur Ransome of Swallows and Amazons fame, they decided to model their story on the holiday adventure theme. Each wrote an alternate chapter of the book and then revised each other's work. The finished article was sent to Arthur Ransome himself! Ransome loved the story and it was soon published, with the great man even writing a foreword to it! The book was The Far-Distant Oxus which, thanks to Fidra Books, is now once more in print over 70 years since it was first written! Three more books followed the same characters, plus another stand alone story. These were all illustrated by Pamela Whitlock. Pamela also wrote some short pony stories on her own which were published in various Pony Club annuals.

As an adult Pamela Whitlock worked as a publishing assistant for Jonathan Cape, was childrens book editor for Collins Books, then worked at Oxford University Press. She and her husband remained close friends with Arthur Ransome until his death.

Katherine was the daughter of Sir Hubert Hull, a prominent barrister and cabinet minister. Her mother died the year before she wrote Oxus. The setting of the Oxus books is similar to holidays the Hulls would spend, and clearly owes a debt to those experiences.

Sources: most of the info on the authors comes from the Fidra Books edition of The Far Distant Oxus.

Oxus Series:
Holiday adventure series with ponies thrown in for good measure. The strange names of the titles come from the fantasy games the children play as they pretend they are exploring far off lands, rather than their real-life Exmoor!

1) THE FAR DISTANT OXUS
(JONATHAN CAPE 1937)
ILLUSTRATED BY PAMELA WHITLOCK
Reprinted in hardback by Jonathan Cape,
Reprinted in hardback by Collins, some editions slightly abridged.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada in the 1970s, not known if abridged or not.
Most recently it has been republished unabridged in paperback by Fidra Books. It is at the moment of writing still in print and can be bought from the Fidra website or bookshops.
There was also a US edition published by Macmillan. This was abridged.
EDITIONS PICTURED: Jonathan Cape reprint, Collins reprint (abridged), Armada paperback, American edition (abridged), Fidra reprint
SUMMARY:A party of children stay in a farmhouse on Exmoor, meet other like-minded children, and have all sorts of adventures, mostly on horseback but also on a raft. They have the sort of holiday that everybody would like to have if only they could!

For a taster of the first chapter please visit this page on the  Fidra website.
(You can also buy a copy from the website)

2) ESCAPE TO PERSIA
(JONATHAN CAPE 1938)
ILLUSTRATED BY PAMELA WHITLOCK
There was also a US edition published by Macmillan.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition
SUMMARY: The Hunterleys escape a dull holiday with an Aunt in London to re-enter their beloved 'Persia' (aka Exmoor!)

3) OXUS IN SUMMER
(JONATHAN CAPE 1939)
ILLUSTRATED BY PAMELA WHITLOCK
Also a Book Club edition
Published in the USA in Hardback by Macmillan.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Book Club edition
SUMMARY: More adventures for the children on Exmoor.

Collectors info:
The Far Distant Oxus was the only one of the series to be reprinted extensively and is thus by far the easiest of all of them to find. Even so, until the recent reprint by Fidra Books it was not particularly easy to come across. Now it is not hard to find at all in either the UK or the USA. The others  can be quite rare and expensive to buy, although it is possible that Fidra may reprinting these at some point in time.

Other Horse & Pony Books:

CROWNS
(JONATHAN CAPE 1947)
ILLUSTRATED BY PAMELA WHITLOCK
SUMMARY: Four children enter a world of fantasy forged by their own imaginations.
EDITION PICTURED: 1st edition

Collectors info:
Hard to find and can be expensive, especially with jacket.

By Pamela Whitlock only:

Short stories in other books & collections:

CATSMEAT PONY
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL No. 1
(NALDRETT 1950)
ILLUSTRATED BY JOAN WANKLYN
SUMMARY: Set on Dartmoor. Marty and Dan try and save a scrawny unwanted Dartmoor pony from being sold for meat.

RARE BRIDGET
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL No. 2
(NALDRETT 1951)
ILLUSTRATED BY MARGERY GILL

THE GREAT DESIRE
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL No. 5
(NALDRETT 1954)
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE BOWE
Also in
THE SECOND BOOK OF PONY STORIES
(Edited by Christine Pullein-Thompson)
(PAN PB 1977)
ILLUSTRATED BY RON STENBERG
SUMMARY: Pony story with a twist in the tale. Set on Dartmoor. Elizabeth's 'great desire' is to buy a Dartmoor foal and train him from young. But when she gets to the auction with her money, things don't go quite to planů
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Collectors info:
The annuals can be quite hard to find, especially outside the UK. The Pullein-Thompson edited paperback story collection is easier to come across, although even this is not common outside the UK. See also the Pony Club Annuals section of the website for more information about each particular annual.