Ponies, ponies, ponies


Joan Wanklyn

The Pony Club Magazine Annual used to publish an Equestrian Who’s Who as its last section up until 1973. Although not a riveting read for me at the time, it’s now a goldmine of information over 30 years later as I research the development of the pony book. Joan Wanklyn featured in the Who’s Who, and it is from her entries there that I have taken this biographical information.

Joan Wanklyn was born on 7th March, 1924 at Benington, near Stevenage - her mother was “mad on horses”. She was educated at a private school in Cheltenham from 1938-1939, which suggests that the rest of her education was either sketchy or at home. She studied at the Royal Drawing Society Studios and Chelsea Polytechnic before the war. With the outbreak of war she stopped studying and worked as a shorthand-typist, returning to her studies after the war at the Central School of Art.

Joan Wanklyn was commissioned to illustrate the I-Spy Daily Mail series in 1949. The titles ranged from the expected horses and ponies to zoo animals and circuses, perhaps giving Joan some inspiration for the children’s books on animal subjects she produced in the 1950s for Frederick Warne. One, Bobtail Shawn, is a pony book - the biography of a pony. In 1986 she produced a book Drawn for Friends, which collected together drawings she had sent friends as cards. Besides her own works, she also illustrated pony books, most notably three of Monica Edwards’ Punchbowl Farm series (The Wanderer, Punchbowl Harvest and Spirit of Punchbowl Farm). She illustrated many other children’s books, mostly on animal and equestrian subjects.

Joan Wanklyn was a regular figure in the early Pony Club Annuals and Pony Club Books, and illustrated some stories in Pony Magazine Annuals in the 1960s. She wrote an article for the very first Pony Magazine Annual Percy’s Pony Annual in 1953: Drawing Horses in Action, which is far superior to some of its successors as it actually gives you a realistic idea of what you were to do.

She painted portraits of many famous horses of the day, including Kilbarry, Tramella, Laurien, High and Mighty, Craven A, Workboy and Pegasus. Her largest work (as at 1972) was two murals of Foxhunter for Colonel Harry Llewellyn: these were 17’ x 3’ 9” and 13’ x 3’ 9”.

Towards the end of her career, she concentrated on military subjects. Her hobbies, she said, were painting, reading and motoring, and she liked “meeting interesting characters, human and animal.” Her chief loathing varied: it was mostly “those who try to stop others doing things,” whereas in 1968 it was complacency. It’s interesting to speculate what event brought that change about.

Links and sources

Pony Magazine Annuals 1962-1968

I-Spy, part of the Easy on the Eye site

Some examples of Joan Wanklyn’s equestrian portraits

Written & illustrated by Joan Wanklyn

Brown Shadow the Otter

Frederick Warne, 1948

Chequers, or Kitty Alone

Frederick Warne, 1948

Bobtail Shawn

Frederick Warne, 1949

Bawse the Badger

Frederick Warne, 1950

Flip, the Story of an Otter

Frederick Warne, London, 1951

Drawn for Friends

Threshold Books, London, 1986

Illustrated by Joan Wanklyn

Evelyn Lambart: Sylkie the Spider

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Cecily Marianne Rutley: Wee One the Wren

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Gurney Slade: Tamba the Lion

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Sidney E Fisher: Everyday Verses - The Country

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Sidney E Fisher: Everyday Verses - The Town

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Cecily Marianne Rutley: Oscar the Otter

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

George Hampden Edwards: Pictus the Golden Pheasant

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

A L Haydon: This Our England

Frederick Warne, London, 1950

Cecily M Rutley: The Hedgehog, the Badger and the Otter

Frederick Warne, London, 1952

Cecily M Rutley: The Wren, the Blue Tit and the Woodpecker

Frederick Warne, London, 1952

Monica Edwards: Spirit of Punchbowl Farm

Collins, London, 1952

Sir Cecil Blacker: Monkey Business

Quiller Press, London, 1953

Constance Woodhead: The Tale of Lazy Bush-tail

Frederick Warne, London, 1953

Cecily M Rutley: The Tale of William Woodpecker

Frederick Warne, London, ?

Monica Edwards: The Wanderer

Collins, London, 1953

Monica Edwards: Punchbowl Harvest
Collins, London, 1954

Mrs D.V.S. Williams: Riding

Educational Productions Ltd, London, 1954

E H Parsons: The Twins in the New Forest

Hutchinson, 1955

E H Parsons: Quest for a Pony

Hutchinson, 1956

E H Parsons: Family in the Saddle

Hutchinson, 1958

Mrs O Faudel-Phillips: Keeping a Pony at Grass

British Horse Society, Kenilworth, 1958

Brigadier ‘Monkey’ Blacker: The Story of Workboy

Collins, London, 1960

Glenda Spooner: Pony Trekking

Museum Press, London, 1961

Training the Young Horse and Pony

British Horse Society, Kenilworth, 1964

Training the Young Pony

The Pony Club, Kenilworth, 1964

The Horseman’s Bedside Book

Ed Lieut-Col J A Talbot-Ponsonby

B T Batsford Ltd, London, 1964

Guns at the Wood: A Record of St John’s Wood Barracks

Ed & Illustrated, London, 1972

Major M C R Wallace: The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery

Threshold Books, 1984

General Sir Cecil Blacker: Sandhurst Sketches


R S Summerhays: Ponies

Softback booklet published for Moss Bros, undated

Sunshine Stories (contributor to)

Blackie, London undated

R.S. Summerhays: Correct Dress for Horse and Rider

TB Browne for Moss Bros, 1964


Illustration from Bobtail Shawn


Illustrations from

Drawn for Friends

British Pony Books Home