Ruby Ferguson’s Jill books are probably the pony books that have remained in print
longer than any other pony series, only going out of print for a brief period in
the first years of this century: so popular are they that they have been picked
up by the publishers Fidra, who have issued the first book, with the next two to
follow in 2010.
Although the first Jill book appeared in 1949, they are still popular today, because
Jill herself is such a wonderfully vivid character. Ruby Ferguson observed children,
and particularly horsey children, brilliantly. Jill sitting in a beautiful dream
oblivious to all as she jumps round Olympia in her mind, or sending the coffee pot
flying by resting a letter on it; or dreading the visit of her much cleaner, much
better behaved Cousin Cecilia, is entirely believable.
There are nine Jill books. Each title has its own page on this site, with a synopsis
and pictures of as many different versions as I have been able to find or borrow.
There is sometimes some confusion about exactly how many Jill titles there were:
two were re-titled by Knight in the 1980s, Jill Enjoys Her Ponies became Jill and
the Runaway, and Pony Jobs for Jill became Challenges for Jill. The books are still
the same underneath the title change.
As well as a page for each individual title, there are pages for each different edition.
The pages for the individual titles include a short synopsis, a note on abridgements,
and photographs of the different editions for that title. I’ve added in some Jill
articles as well, and there are now pages on some of Jill’s illustrators, as well
as pages detailing the full list of abridgements Knight made.
You will see that I don’t have photographs of absolutely every edition, so if you
can help, please feel free to email me.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Birte Scheel, Alison Rushby, Vanessa Robertson,
Dawn Harrison, Diane Janes, Kayt, and Claire Noble for providing cover shots I didn’t
have; and particular thanks to Hazelhunter and Birte for their sterling work on what’s
abridged and where. Thanks to Tracy Goodson for detective work on the USA printing,
and to Matilda Lawless and Roy Clarke for cover shots.
I don’t know if this counts as Fanfic or not - but if you were ever curious about
the sheer amount of food Jill ate, this story might be interesting.
There is a section on Wikipedia about Ruby Ferguson: it’s not attributed, but I
suspect it’s by Liz Thiel, who has also written a paper on Ruby Ferguson: alas only
accessible if you have access to academic libraries. There is a fascinating general
article on pony books on the Collecting Books and Magazines website, which has a
section on RF. There’s a quiz on the Jill books.
The excellent Persephone Books have reprinted Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary and it is
still in print. It is absolutely nothing like the Jill books, and lacks their humour
but it is a poignant read. Persephone have a short biography of Ruby Ferguson.