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Marjorie Mary Oliver wrote some of the earliest pony books: books which focused on children and their adventures rather than telling the story from the pony’s point of view. The books also broke new ground by being illustrated with photographs. These have a huge period charm today, showing as they do a world where it was perfectly acceptable to ride in your swimming suit with no hat.
The books themselves are charming. I am particularly fond of Sea Ponies, which is perhaps the most intense evocation of a lost world. The Hook Hollow series have wonderful Stanley Lloyd illustrations, and some exotically named children who have straightforward holiday adventures. These really are wonderful escapist reading, reflecting a world which possibly never really existed, though we all probably wish it had.
Marjorie Mary Oliver wrote her first three books with Eva Ducat. Oliver was born in London, and started her career training to be a ballet dancer. She left that (apparently rather abruptly) 'to live among horses'. She broke in and trained horses until she was married, and her own children lived among horses in much the same way as the characters did in her books.
Marjorie Mary Oliver’s books were so popular in America that she went on a lecture tour there in 1950.
I have been unable to find any biographical information about Eva Ducat.
Finding the books
Sea Ponies is the hardest of the books to find, and is almost impossible to find with its dustjacket. The other titles are all reasonably easy to find as long as you don’t mind copies without dustjackets; The Ponies of Bunts and Ponies and Caravans are hardest to find with dustjackets, but not horribly expensive when they do turn up.
The Bunts series
The Ponies of Bunts
Ponies and Caravans
Riding Days in Hook's Hollow
Lane of Ponies
Menace on the Moor
Mystery at Merridown Mill
The Riddle of the Tired Pony
Links and sources
Dustjacket of A-Riding We Will Go
The British Library
Many thanks to Henry Sotheran Ltd for the picture of Sea Ponies.
Thank you to Amanda Dolby for her help with the pictures.