Ponies, ponies, ponies
Helen Charlotte Hough (pronounced How) was born in Hampshire on May 24, 1924, and died on December 31, 2008. Her father, a doctor, was 50 when she was born. Her mother was much younger, and Charlotte had a rather dislocated childhood, as her father refused to contribute to her upbringing. She was educated at Frensham Heights, a progressive school, and then went into the WRNS. She married Richard Hough, who was in the RAF, and had five children, one of whom was stillborn.
Neither Charlotte nor her husband had any professional qualifications, so early married life was a battle. As Charlotte could draw, she took her drawings round publishers, and was taken on to illustrate children’s books. The earliest book I have found which she illustrated was M E Atkinson’s House on the Moor, published in 1948. The first true pony book she illustrated was Christine Pullein-
After 1954, she illustrated a few more children’s books, but none of them were pony books; perhaps her heart was not in it, as she concentrated in this later period on her own books. These were mostly published by Faber and Faber, and as far as I know, most were aimed at younger children, though she wrote a detective story for adults in 1980, The Bassington Murder.
After her marriage ended in divorce, Charlotte Hough had several voluntary jobs before she became a Samaritan. She was asked to visit four elderly women regularly, and this she did, becoming very close to them. One of them, Annetta Harding, had crippling arthritis and was nearly blind. She had told Charlotte Hough that she intended to take her own life when the pain became too much. That day came, and Charlotte agreed to stay with her until the end. Annetta Harding’s house was locked at 10.00 pm, and so, to avoid Charlotte becoming implicated in her death, Annetta Harding wanted her to leave before then. When 10.00 pm came, Annetta Harding was in a coma, but not yet dead, so Charlotte used one of the plastic bags which Annetta Harding had put by in case she needed them to finish the process, to smother her.
She confided in a fellow Samaritan what she had done, and the Samaritan told the police. Charlotte Hough was arrested, tried, and sentenced to nine months for attempted murder, of which she served six. Whether the same verdict would have been delivered now is a moot point. Her time in prison was not easy; the English class system did not serve her well, but she eventually blended into the background, and tended the prison gardens. Her time in prison gave her much sympathy for women who did not emerge, as she did, to a family and many supporters, and she was a member of PEN, (of which Josephine Pullein Thompson was President).
Links and Sources
Times Obituary, January 7, 2009
Thank you very much to Deborah Moggach for giving me permission to use these reproductions of her mother’s illustrations.
Written & illustrated by Charlotte Hough
Faber & Faber, London, 1957
Pony books illustrated by Charlotte Hough
Marjorie Mary Oliver: Land of Ponies
Country Life, 1951
M E Atkinson: Castaway Camp
Bodley Head, 1951
Glenda Spooner: The Perfect Pest
Jonathan Cape, 1951
M E Atkinson: Hunter’s Moon
Bodley Head, 1952
Margaret Stanley Wrench: The Rival Riding Schools
(Cover only. Internal illustrations F Furnival)
M E Atkinson: The Barnstormers
Bodley Head, 1953
April Jaffé: The Enchanted Horse
Hutchinson & Co,1953
Ann Stafford: Five Proud Riders
Anna Sewell: Black Beauty
Hippo Books, 1989 (might be a different version)
Internal illustration from Hough’s Black Beauty