Country Life, who still publish the magazine of that name, ran a publishing house in the early years of the last century, specialising in country-related titles. They published a selection of children’s books, targeted at the children of County Life readers, on the (presumably well founded) assumption that the children shared their parents’ countryside interests. Not all the children’s books Country Life published were pony books, but they formed the major part of the list. Other animals (and birds) did get a look in: M E Buckingham’s Argh the Tiger being one of the more memorable titles, together with books about rather more accessible creatures, like Mark Flint’s Grig the Greyhound and G Cornwallis-West’s Us Dogs.

The Junior Country Life Library was a uniform, and cheaper, edition of Country Life’s more popular children’s titles. Each title generally had a black and white illustration on the dustjacket, with a brightly coloured border to add interest. The titles were labeled as first editions: it is more accurate to say that they were first editions in that format. The vast majority of titles had earlier printings which were the first true edition.

 

What order the Library was published in is uncertain. I have included below the order which appears most often in advertisement form. The list is not complete: what title number 2 and several of its fellows were is still a mystery. Almost all of the surviving printed lists contained the same titles as in the illustration bottom right. To add to the confusion, other titles were occasionally badged as Junior Country Life editions but were not numbered, and didn’t appear to be issued in the standard format.

There are still some titles in this series I’ve never seen. Maybe they are lurking out there somewhere. Perhaps the dearth of surviving titles was due to the advent of war and the resulting paper shortages, leading to very short print runs. Bearing in mind the amount of advertising the series received, and its low price, it would seem logical to suppose that more of its titles would have survived if normal conditions had prevailed.

Whatever its print runs, Country Life did its best to sell the series. Country Life also published Riding magazine, and made full use of its sister publication to advertise its titles. It was a rare edition of Riding that passed without an advertisement for a Country Life title, and the Junior Country Life Library had its full share of plugs, both in editorial and advertisement form.

Although cheaper editions, the quality of the Junior Country Life Library was still way ahead of later pony book libraries, such as the Seagull and Collins imprints. If you can find them, the books generally survive in very good order. They are a window into a world long gone.

I’ve included below all the Junior Country Life pony titles I know about. I am still short of a lot of photographs, so if you can provide any I’d be very grateful.

 

 

Sources
Country Life titles (the rear cover to the right is from the 1940 printing of Brenda E Spender’s On’y Tony)
Riding Magazine, Winter 1941
Riding Magazine, Spring, 1942

 

The Junior Country Life Library
(pony titles in bold)

1. John Thorburn: Hildebrand
2. John Thorburn: Three’s Company
3. Major John Budden: Charlie the Fox
4. Richard Ball: Broncho
5. Unknown
6. M E Buckingham: Phari
7. Brenda E Spender: On’y Tony
8. Unknown
9. M E Buckingham: Argh – the Tale of a Tiger
10. Brenda E Spender: Mock Uncle
11. Audrey Blewitt: Ponies and Children
12. Unknown
13. Brenda E Spender: On’y Tony’s Circus
14. Marjorie Mary Oliver and Eva Ducat: The Ponies of Bunts
15. Marjorie Mary Oliver: Sea Ponies
16. Primrose Cumming: Doney
17. Eden Phillpotts: The White Camel
18. Primrose Cumming: Spider Dog
19. M Garland Bullivant: Little Lass
20. Nason: Dog with a Bad Name
21. K F Barker: Traveller’s Joy
22. K F Barker: Himself
23. Hermione Ratcliff: Golden Knight
24. Cynthia Harnett: David’s New World
25. Captain J E Hance: Riders of Tomorrow
26. Margaret Sackville: Mr Horse’s New Shoes
27. Brenda E Spender: On’y Tony and the Dragon
28. Golden Gorse: Janet and Felicity
29. H W Longden: Ways of the Veld Dwellers
30. K F Barker: Champion – Bull Terrier
31. Golden Gorse: Moorland Mousie
32. Golden Gorse: Older Mousie
33. M E Buckingham: Rajah the Elephant
34. C E Heanley: Peter and Co
35. C Acton: Stories of the Saddle
36. Mark Flint: Grig the Greyhound
37. Eleanor Helme: Furlong Farm
38. Ida Gandy: The Chestnut Tree
39. Phillis Garrard: Plum Duff and Prunella
40. J Ivester Lloyd: Joey
41. Primrose Cumming: Rachel of Romney
42. Ann C Edmonds: Silent Flight
43. Pamela Phillips: The Chestnut Pony
44. Mary Mason: Flame – the Story of a Setter
45. Mary Garland Bullivant: Fortune’s Foal
46. Shirley Faulkner-Horne: Pat and Her Polo Pony
47. G Cornwallis-West: Us Dogs

Other titles mentioned as being in the Junior Country Life Library, but not included in any list yet seen:

Anne Bullen: Darkie
Naomi Wainwright: Island Pony Club
Enid Blyton: The Children of Cherrytree Farm
Marjorie Mary Oliver: Horseman’s Island
Marjorie Mary Oliver & Eva Ducat: The Ponies Of Bunts
Marjorie Mary Oliver: Riding Days in Hook’s Hollow
Julia Wynmalen: Holly: the Education of a Pony
Marjorie Mary Oliver: Ponies and Caravans
Primrose Cumming: Trouble at Trimbles
Joyce Lennon: Misty the Grey Pony
ME Buckingham: The Great Carlos
Elinore M Havers: Wigwam Island
J Ivester Lloyd: The People of the Valley