Ponies, ponies, ponies


A Brief Publishing History

The Hardbacks

The originals

The Jill books were all originally published by Hodder and Stoughton, and were illustrated by Caney. All the hardbacks were reprinted several times. I have seen some first editions with different coloured boards: Jill’s Pony Trek, for example, which I’ve seen as a first edition with green boards, and with buff. This, I presume, is because the printer was using up board stock. As far as I know, reprints were not abridged or altered. In America, Jill’s Gymkhana was published by Dodd Mead in 1950 as A Horse of Her Own; this I think because gymkhana was not a term known in America.

Foyle’s Children’s Book Club

Foyle’s Children’s Book Club printed A Stable for Jill. I haven’t yet seen any other Ruby Ferguson titles produced by them, so assume this is the only one. The internal illustrations are by Caney, and it and the text seem to be the same as the original Hodder printing.

The Hampton Library

Hodder reprinted the whole series as hardbacks in a cheaper and smaller hardback edition, The Hampton Library series. Some titles in this version have red borders to the title area, and some minor alterations in the text, but otherwise they are as the originals. Unfortunately, as they were intended to be a cheaper way for children to collect the stories, they were printed on inferior paper stock, and it is hard to find the Hampton Library editions without browned pages.

Hodder Laminated Boards

The last reprint in hardback was in the 1970s. These versions have photographic laminated boards, and as far as I know, none of the original illustrations. The titles I have seen have frontispieces by Elisabeth Grant. There is also a German edition which used the same covers.  

The Paperbacks


Armada, the children’s paperback division of Collins, was the first publisher of Jill in paperback. Armada initially printed the books with the original Caney covers, recolouring the backgrounds in some cases. They used several different cover illustrators, including Peter Archer and Mary Gernat. Although Armada did print all the titles; some of  them in two different versions, they did not, as far as I know, do a full set by any cover illustrator. I have found contemporary advertisements from Armada showing their pony stories, which include the Archer covers, so I believe this is how the set was issued. Armada used the full text for all their printings: again, as far as I know.    


Knight, the paperback division of the original publishers Hodder, presumably realised that they were missing a trick, as they then took over the publication of Jill in paperback. They commissioned another illustrator, Bonar Dunlop, to illustrate some of the books. Black Boy, Jill’s first pony, mysteriously became a piebald in these editions. Whether this was because Bonar Dunlop drew him like that and the books were changed to suit, or whether it was the other way round, I do not know. Not content with this, Knight renamed Black Boy in their earliest printing of Jill’s Gymkhana when he became Danny Boy. Ruby Ferguson had died by the time these editions appeared so was not around to object. Some titles were left with the Caney illustrations, and some alas lost all illustrations. As far as I know, the first Knight printings had the original text, but all printings from the 1970s on were slightly abridged.

Knight originally published the series with covers by Bonar Dunlop in the late 1960s but then commissioned W D Underwood to produce the rather ditsy covers of the 1970s printings (but despite not liking these covers particularly, they take me back instantly to my childhood. These editions are the ones I read.)  Black Boy is Black Boy again in this version of the series.

Nearly all printings since the 1980s have had photographic covers. The text however was left pretty much the same (although abridged) until the 1993 edition when it was decided that Jill needed updating. The 1993 (Black Horseshoe) edition also dropped all the illustrations. These were only ever present in five titles: four certainly had no illustrations by the W D Underwood version. These were: Jill Enjoys Her Ponies (Jill and the Runaway), Pony Jobs for Jill (Challenges for Jill); Rosettes for Jill and Jill’s Pony Trek.


The later 1990s printings have illustrated covers again: not the most successful cover art I’ve ever seen. Jill’s Gymkhana is by Adrian Lascom, as is A Stable for Jill and Jill Has Two Ponies. Whether the full series was issued in this edition I do not yet know.


Fidra Books have acquired the rights to the Jill books, and are working their way through the series.  Their versions have the full original text and illustrations, with specially commissioned photographic covers.