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Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Shirley Rousseau Murphy is a prolific author, better known for her books about cats than about horses. She has been larded with awards from various Cat bodies in the USA, including the World’s Best Cat Literary Award in 2006 for her Joel Gray series. She lives with her husband and two cats in California.


Having graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in California, she worked as a designer and then an interior designer. It was when she was working in a library in Panama Canal Zone that she started writing. She has written several children’s books, including the two horse books White Ghost Summer and The Sand Ponies. These were based on her childhood in Long Beach, California, growing up with the horses her father trained: hunters, jumpers and pleasure horses.


White Ghost Summer was her first children’s book, and both it and The Sand Ponies have more depth and complexity than the average horse story.


Finding the books: both books are easy and cheap to find in America, but neither book was published in the UK.


Links and sources

Harper Collins page on Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Mystery Writers of America

Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s website

White Ghost Summer

Viking, New York, 1967, illus Barbara McGee
Dutton Juvenile, New York, 1969, pb


Mel and her family move house. Although Mel longs for the country, their city
house is near to the Ocean and overlooks a park, and it is in that park that
one day she sees a great silvery stallion - the ghost horse. She’s not sure at
first whether the horse is real, but he is, and there is more mystery to come.

The Sand Ponies

Viking, New York, 1967, illus Erika Weihs


The ranch in the north, and its horses, were gone, and their parents were dead,
but Tom and Karen are still drawn to the north. When they came to the sea,
where the Sand Ponies were running free, Karen was sure something special
was waiting for them.


Bibliography - horse books only