Biography

Ritson, Lady Kitty

Lady Kitty Ritson was born Lady Kitty Edith Blanche Ogilvy on 5 February 1887. She was married twice, and had two children with her first husband, both of whom died very young in 1914. The early decades of the 1900s were grim ones for Lady Kitty and her family. Her brother Patrick was killed in action in 1917, and her sister Mabell was killed in 1918, while exercising army horses.

Under her first married name, Lady Kitty Vincent, she wrote several comedies of manners. Under her second married name, Lady Kitty Ritson was a well known contributor of articles for Riding Magazine, with some of her more notable contributions including a pair on Western riding and sports. She went on to write pony stories, the first of which I believe to be A Kiss for Kara. This is described as a Ruritanian romance, where people have little interest in anything but horses. Review copies of the book certainly existed, as I have found it reviewed in Riding Magazine (September 1939) and The Straits Times (July 1939), and copies were deposited at the copyright libraries. I have never seen a copy for sale, so wonder if stock was destroyed in the war. Her later pony books included the Tessa books; an interesting series. Many fathers in books of the period are on the ferocious side, but Tessa’s is human and Tessa herself is delightful.

Kitty Ritson herself is better known by far in the dog world, having been a keen supporter of several breeds new to Britain in the 1920s and 30s, including the Norwegian Elkhound and the Finnish Spitz. As well as writing many books on dogs, she judged, and also helped set up Guide Dogs for the Blind. She died on 17 October 1969.

The Tessa Series
Tessa and Some Ponies
Tessa and the Rannoch Dude Ranch
Tessa in South Africa
Tessa to the Rescue

Finding the books
Molly the New Forest Pony, John and Jennifer’s Pony Club, and Montana Adventure are all easy to find and usually cheap. The Tessa books are harder to find; the trickiest is Tessa to the Rescue. Pricing can be erratic. A Kiss for Kara is monumentally difficult to find.

Links and sources
Mabell Olgilvy, Countess of Airlie, Lady Kitty Ritson’s mother
Lady Kitty and her first marriage
There are photographs of Lady Kitty Ritson here.
Many thanks to Annette York, Sarah Beasley and Hannah Fleetwood for their help with the pictures.

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