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Elyne Mitchell

Elyne Mitchell (1913-2002) was a writer whose books were all based firmly in the Australian landscapes she loved.  She started writing during the Second World War, when there was an upsurge in literature based in Australia as the threat of invasion by the Japanese threw Australians back on realising the beauty and strength of their land.  Elyne Mitchell, in an interview with Jeff Prentice, said:  “we thought we might lose Australia...”

Elyne Mitchell herself lived in the Snowy Mountains area of the Australian Alps, which is where her most popular series, The Silver Brumby, is set.  She started writing the Silver Brumby books to give her daugher, Indi, something to read:  books were hard to get, and Elyne wanted her daughter to read books with a strong Australian content.

The early Silver Brumby books blend their descriptions of the wild Australian mounties effortlessly with the adventures of the Brumbies.  Talking horses can often be an awkward literary device, but Elyne Mitchell’s behave like horses, and their lives are portrayed vividly and realistically:  Bel Bel’s bones bleach on the Ramshead.

Silver Brumby Whirlwind was described on its publication as the last of the series, as Thowra dies, but the following books are connected, with Thowra’s sons appearing.  Moon Filly, which is chronologically after Silver Brumby Kingdom, does not involve the Silver Brumby horses, but is a connector, as Thowra meets the Moon Filly horses’ offspring in Silver Brumby Whirlwind. The later books, which move the Brumby history on after Thowra’s death, I found over-written and almost alien: instead of being effortless the writing seems uncomfortable and the horses peculiar.   Not I know an opinion that many of my mailing list share, but I think her first four books, and Moon Filly, are her best.

The Silver Brumby has been made into both a cartoon series (1994), and a film (The Silver Brumby/The Silver Stallion, 1993), starring a young Russell Crowe.  The film has had Elyne Mitchell and her daughter Indi written into it, so it’s rather a different thing to the book.

There is a lot of information on Elyne Mitchell on the net.
There is an excellent Elyne Mitchell site, with details of covers and plots. Accessed 27 Feb 2014
Wikipedia entry. Accessed 27 Feb 2014
Elyne Mitchell, biography, artefacts, Matthew Higgins, accessed 27 Feb 2014

This article has a photograph of Elyne Mitchell, Austlit, accessed 27 Feb 2014.  

The film The Silver Stallion, accessed 27 Feb 2014

A guide to the cartoon series, accessed 27 Feb 2014

Sadly there no longer appears to be internet access to the interview Jeff Prentice did with Elyne Mitchell.

Victor Ambrus: for copyright reasons, I don’t use Victor Ambrus’ pictures.

The Brumby Series
The Silver Brumby
Silver Brumby’s Daughter
Silver Brumbies of the South
Silver Brumby Kingdom

Moon Filly
Silver Brumby Whirlwind
Son of the Whirlwind
Silver Brumby, Silver Dingo

Dancing Brumby

Brumbies of the Night

Dancing Brumby's Rainbow

The Thousandth Brumby
Wild Echoes Ringing

Snowy River

The Colt from Snowy River

Snowy River Brumby

Brumby Racer

The Silver Brumby
Hutchinson, 1958, London, illus Ralph Thompson
Hutchinson, 1962 (photo cover)
Dragon Books, London, 1969 (Peter Archer cover,

1973 (far right), 1982
Lions 1992, 1993, 1994
Griffin Paperbacks, Netley, South Australia,
1994, 157pp. PB.
John Ferguson compilation, hb

Bel Bel gives birth to Thowra on a dark, stormy
night. Thowra grows up with his friend Storm, under
the leadership of the stallion Yarraman.  The Brolga
fights and kills Yarraman, and Thowra, Storm and a
group of other colts leave the herd. The colt Arrow
hates Thowra, and tries to fight him, furiously jealous
once Thowra and Storm take some of the Brolga’s fillies.
Arrow is defeated, and Thowra then takes the creamy
mare Golden from man

Silver Brumby’s Daughter
Hutchinson, 1960, illus Grace Huxtable
Dragon Books, London, 1968, (Peter Archer cover,

1973 (far right)
Armada, 1988 (2nd row)
Lions 1992
Griffin Paperbacks, Netley, South Australia, 157 pp.

(US - Snow Filly)
Compilation, John Ferguson, Sydney, hb

Kunama is the Silver Brumby’s daughter, whose
mother is the mare Golden.  Kunama is enchanted
by the black stallion Tambo, and goes after him,
but this gets her into terrible trouble when she encounters
men.  Not only does she have to try  and avoid the men,
particularly after they have captured her and she has
escaped, the stallion Spear wants her too.  At last, she
is captured again, but the boy who rides her understands
her  true nature, and in the end he lets her go.

Silver Brumbies of the South
Hutchinson, 1965, illus Annette Macarthur-Onslow
Dragon Books, London, 1969, Peter Archer cover,
2nd left
1977, 1983, 156 pp.
Armada, 1988, pb
Lions, 1992 (Griffin Paperbacks, SA, 156 pp.  Pb)

Thowra now has a grandson, Baringa, son of Kunama,
another silver horse like his son Lightning.  Baringa has
inherited his sire’s wisdom: Lightning has not.  Baringa
wins the lovely filly Dawn, and eventually a lovely filly
owned by a mad stallion.  Despite the threat to him that
Lightning provides, after he gets himself and his herd into
trouble during the snow, Baringa rescues him.

Silver Brumby Kingdom
Hutchinson, 1966, illus Annette Macarthur-Onslow
Dragon Books, London, 1968, Peter Archer cover,
2nd left,
Dragon Books 1973 (2nd right), 1977, 139 pp.
Armada, London, 1988 pb (right)
Lions, 1992 (Griffin Paperbacks, SA, 139 pp. PB)

Lightning steals some horses, and Baringa loses Dawn
in a flooded river. While he is looking for her, he
encounters the filly Yarolala, and the killer stallion
Bolder.  Baringa and Bolder fight until they collapse,
leading Yarolala to think they are dead.  Thowra hears
this, and sets out to look for Baringa and Dawn.

Moon Filly
Hutchinson, 1968 illus Robert Hales
Children’s Book Club, 1968
Dragon, pb, 1975, 1976. Illus Robert Hales, Cover Gordon Crabb
Lions, 1992 (Griffin Paperbacks, SA, 141 pp. PB)

The little brown filly Ilinga,  loses her mother, and is brought up by

Wurring’s mother.  Between the colt and the filly there grows up a great

loyalty, but then Iron Grey returns to avenge the theft of the brown filly’s


Bibliography - pony books only

Son of the Whirlwind

Hutchinson, 1976, illus Victor Ambrus
Dragon Books, London, 1976, 1979 (left)
Lions, 1992 (Griffin Paperbacks, SA, 158 pp. PB)

“This is the story of Wirramirra, the last born son of Thowra, the Silver Brumby, who sets

off to the mountains of the south with his dam Yuri, determined to find his fabled sire. Their

search for the magnificent silver stallion is beset by death and disaster. Other wild horses

want Yuri for themselves. The two searchers are also chased by men and endangered by

fire, lightning and blizzards as they make their way south.”

Silver Brumby Whirlwind
Hutchinson, 1973, illus Victor Ambrus
Dragon Books, London, 1973, 1976, 1978, 126 pp.
Lions, 1992 (Griffin Paperbacks, SA, 126 pp. PB)

Thowra sees a filly dancing, and has to go after her.
She is the daughter of Ilinga and Wurring, and his hunt
for her leads Thowra to some very strange country indeed.

The Colt at Taparoo
Hutchinson, 1976, illus Victor Ambrus

Dragon, pb, 1978.  Cover Gordon Crabb, illus Victor Ambrus, 140 pp.

The fastest foal born that spring at Taparoo is Fire, Gay’s beautiful chestnut colt.  When they ride out into the
plains and mountains, they are often attacked by the bad tempered mare Queen and her colt, but can’t
understand why.  Then they remember the mystery surrounding Fire’s birth, and start to wonder just which
horse was his father.

The Colt from Snowy River
Hutchinson, 1980, illus Victor Ambrus
Dragon, London, 1981 pb

“Buzz, the thoroughbred colt from the Snowy River homestead, is the favourite of Mary Anne Reid and her
brother James.  One wintry night the colt disappears.  The Reid family spend days looking for him, camping
out at night under the stars.  They search for a year in all seasons, without success.  The following Spring,
Mary Anne and James set out again.!

Snowy River Brumby
Hutchinson, 1981, illus Victor Ambrus)
Red Fox, 1984, pb

The stallion Buzz and the filly Yarrawa now have a son, Nooroo, who is thought to be even faster
than his father.  Then, whilst running away from a pursuer, Nooroo is terribly injured.  Buzz heads
for Mary Anne, sure she will look after his son.  Mary Anne and her father and brother then face
the task of rescuing and nursing a brumby in the snow, with all the dangers of the wild weather
and other, warring stallions.  In the end, Mary Anne and Nooroo face the dilemma of whether it
is better to let him go back to the wild, or stay where he is safe.

Brumby Racer
Hutchinson 1981, illustrated by Victor Ambrus

Nooroo is the son of Buzz, who featured in Snowy River Brumby.  His life is divided between racing, and living free as
a Brumby.  Nooroo has conflict in his life: there’s the siren call of Babila, a red-bay Brumby mare, but then at the ranch
lives the pony mare he loves, Honey.

Silver Brumby, Silver Dingo
Angus & Robertson, 1993

A ferocious storm parts the foal Tiarri from his mother, fortuitously dumping him next to an orphaned dingo

pup. Then the dingo is threatened by an eagle, but is saved by Tiarri. After this, the three creatures: horse,

dingo and eagle, form a bond, and fight to survive together as the two young creatures try and find their


Dancing Brumby
Angus & Robertson 1995

Choopa is a little blue roan foal with mis-shapen legs, who nevertheless dances like an angel.  His dam,

Dandaloo, fears for his safety, and leads him up into the mountains, away from ham.  However, there is one

man who will not give up his search:  he once trained Lippizaners at the Spanish Riding school, and is

determined to search for Choopa.

Brumbies of the Night
Angus & Robertson, 1996

The blurb:
“Burra knows this foal will bring trouble.  It cannot be Coolawyn’s foal - none of the herd has seen a snow-white
foal with such strange red eyes before.  Who is he really?  Why is it now that the drumming hooves of
galloping horses are heard in the deepest dark of night?  In the beating storms of winter, a mare cries out in
desperation... A stallion callls, searching...”

The Thousandth Brumby
Angus & Robertson, 1996

What an achievement it would be to catch 1,000 brumbies: man is in the mountains again, and hunting horses.
The stallion who is the hunter’s aim does however have help, in the unexpected form of  a working dog, and a


Silver Brumby Stories Vol 1
PB, Diamond, 1993

The Silver Brumby
Silver Brumby’s Daughter
Silver Brumbies of the South

Silver Brumby Stories Vol 2
PB, Diamond, 1993

Silver Brumby Kingdom
Silver Brumby Whirlwind
Son of the Whirlwind

The Silver Brumby Movie Book (1992) by Peter Oliver
Budget Books, Melbourne 1993. PB.  138 pp.

“The behind-the-scenes-story of the making of 'The Silver Brumby'- a film inspired by Elyne Mitchell's classic
of Australian children's literature. And the story of the movie based on the screenplay by John Tatoulis and

Jon Stephens in consultation with Elyne Mitchell.

Dancing Brumby's Rainbow
Angus & Robertson, 1998

Choopa is threatened again: this time by Old Strawberry, a roan stallion who takes against the ugly little horse,
and hunts him down. Choopa however decides to mock the older, bigger stallion, who has a beautiful miniature
daughter Choopa wants for himself.

The Silver Brumby and The Silver Brumby's Daughter
Collected Edition.
John Ferguson Ptd Ltd, Sydney, NSW, 1982. 407 pp. HB


Kingfisher Feather
hutchinson, London, 1962, illus Grace Huxtable

Kingfisher Feather describes a year in the life of the Dane family. They live on a cattle station right up near

the Australian Alps. This book is a departure from the Silver Brumby stories, in that the focus is on the people,

 rather than the horses. The landscape still plays a vivid part, particularly the changes that Mitchell saw

altering her beloved Alps. The two Dane children meet a lubra who foretells their future, and says they have

challenges to face before they  can find the Dragonfly Cave.

Mainly this tale shows off the countryside and nature of the south west and it also highlights change.

Light Horse to Damascus
Hutchinson, London, 1971, illus Victor Ambrus
Sun Books, 1987

Told from the horse’s point of view, this is Karloo’s story, which starts in August 1914 as he and his master

Dick are loaded onto a troopship, with the rest of the Australian Light Horse on their way to war.  They landed

in Egypt, where victory is short lived.

Wild Echoes Ringing (published with The Silver Brumby)
Angus & Robertson, 2003