Elyne Mitchell

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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 mountains effortlessly with the adventures of the Brumbies. Elyne Mitchell’s horses all talk, something which can often be an awkward literary device, but the horses do behave like horses, and their lives are portrayed vividly and realistically: Bel Bel’s bones bleach on the Ramshead.

The Brumby series is a lengthy one. The fifth book, 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, whose action 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 (connector)
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,

Dragon Books, London, 1973 (far right), 1982
Lions 1992, 1993, 1994
Griffin Paperbacks, Netley, South Australia,
1994, 157pp
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, 1973
Armada, 1988
Lions, 1992
Griffin Paperbacks, Netley, SA, 157 pp.

Reprinted as Snow Filly
E P Dutton & Co, NY, 1961
Compilation, John Ferguson, Sydney

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,

cover Peter Archer, 1977, 1983, 156 pp.
Armada, 1988
Lions, 1992, 156 pp.

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 beautiful 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

Silver Brumby Kingdom
Hutchinson, 1966, illus Annette Macarthur-Onslow
Dragon Books, London, 1968, cover Peter Archer
Dragon Books 1973, 1977, 139 pp.
Armada, London, 1988

Lions, 1992, 139 pp.

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, London, 1968, illus Robert Hales
Children’s Book Club, 1968
Dragon, pb, 1975, 1976. Illus Robert Hales, Cover Gordon Crabb
Lions, 1992, 141 pp.

The 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 mother.

Bibliography - pony books only

Son of the Whirlwind

Hutchinson, 1976, illus Victor Ambrus
Dragon Books, London, 1976, 1979
Lions, 1992

Wirramirra is the last born son of Thowra. He sets off with his dam Yuri, determined
to find his fabled sire. Their search is beset by death and disaster. Other wild horses

want Yuri for themselves. The two searchers are also chased by men and
encounter fiire, 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, 126 pp.

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 have a son, Nooroo, 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. They then face the task of rescuing and nursing a brumby in the snow,
with wild weather and other, warring stallions. Is it best to let Nooroo 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 mothers.

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 harm.
However, there is one man who will not give up his search: he once trained Lipizzaners 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 dingo.

Silver Brumby Stories Vol 1
Diamond, London, 1993

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

Silver Brumby Stories Vol 2
Diamond, London, 1993

Silver Brumby Kingdom
Silver Brumby Whirlwind
Son of the Whirlwind

Peter Oliver: The Silver Brumby Movie Book
Budget Books, Melbourne 1993, 38 pp.

The behind-the-scenes-story of the making of  the Silver Brumby film.

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.


Kingfisher Feather
Hutchinson, London, 1962, illus Grace Huxtable

Kingfisher Feather describes a year in the life of the Dane family on their cattle station near the
Australian 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.

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 land in Egypt, where victory is short lived.

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

Silver Brumby Interest