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Frances Duncombe

High Hurdles

Henry Holt & Co, New York,1941, illus by Eleanor Iselin Mason
E M Hale & Company, 1941 reprint, 1944


Debby’s father, Ben, has to sell their house and even her horse, Twinkle,  He manages to
find a job with a Mr Scrimgoer, as a groom.  At first, with Mr Scrimgoer not in residence,
all goes well, and Debby enjoys life, but when he comes home, she has a new set of
problems to face, not least of which is Mr Scrimgoer’s grand daughter, Claire.

Frances Duncombe based her one horse book on fact; she lived on a farm near Katonah, New York, in an area where horses were part of everyday life. Of the horses mentioned in High Hurdles: Mac, Robin, Golden Boy, Brutus and Bunty are all real horses. Frances Duncombe studied writing under Mabel L Robinson at Columbia. It was while studying there she wrote High Hurdles, and two of her other books: Clarinda, and Eemi, the story of a clown.


The Illustrator, Eleanor Iselin Mason, also lived near Katonah, and knew the horse Bunty long before the author did. She started riding before she was even old enough for school, and studied sculpture at the Grand Central Art School in New York, and at the Royal Academy in London. She has also illustrated The Southborough Fox and Other Colonel Weatherford Stories by Gordon Grand, published by the Derrydale Press.


Finding the book: there was no British publication, but the book is easy to find in America, and not too expensive.


Links and sources
Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau for all her help with book and author information.

Bibliography - Horse Books Only