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Daphne Machin Goodall came from a family of huntsmen: 'For over 150 years a Goodall reigned as huntsman, and occasionally as Master, over twenty-nine packs of hounds covering England, Wales, Ireland, India and very nearly Austria as well!' She was educated privately and in France and Germany. She spent most of her life with horses, apart from the five years she spent in the Army (F.A.N.Y. - the Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps, or First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.) After the war, she helped her sister, Vivien Boon, breed and train show jumpers. Viven Boon began show jumping at the age of 11 with Ynot, who during the war was pressed into service in a trick riding display to raise funds for the Red Cross. The sisters bred Neptune, who won the Olympic Horse Trial with Vivien Boon at Harewood in 1953, the first such event won by a woman.
Daphne Machin Goodall wrote several seminal works on the horse. Her Horses of the World was the constant companion of my childhood; a thorough survey of the horse throughout the world. With Anthony Dent, she wrote Foals of Epona (1968, reprinted as A History of British Native Ponies), the first attempt to write the history of the nine native pony breeds of Great Britain (by which they meant Great Britain in the geographical and not the political sense: the Irish Connemara counts.) She revised The Observer’s Book of Horses, originally written by
R S Summerhays.
Having been educated in Germany, Daphne Machin Goodall’s language skills were good enough for her to work as a translator, and she translated such titles as Cavaletti by Reine Klimke and The Asiatic Wild Horse by Erna Mohr. She was an expert photographer, and provided the photographs for several of her books.
Silver Spring, her one excursion into fiction is a book of short stories. A couple are rather strong meat for today's reader: in the first, Silver Spring, a horse labelled as unrideable is 'whipped until I couldn't bear it any longer' to persuade him that he is not in control, and a later story has Don Querero's horse meeting a violent end in a bull fight. Other stories are less violent: Jumbo, a Shetland stallion, becomes a mascot in a German regiment, and is taken by the Russians as the spoils of war, and a rogue chestnut Norfolk hackney becomes a show jumper.
The stories are notable more for their illustrations than their readability. Daphne Machin Goodall’s style is rather abrupt and exclamatory ('A real blood horse. A proper one. Old Silver!') and the stories curiously uninvolving. Neither equine nor human characters have much about them to involve or attract: the stories are told as if from a distance. A Sunday Morning, which is about Lippizaner stallions, has the bay Neapolitano Ancona reacting as if human: 'Ancona snorted. What rubbish men talked,' but he is alone in this amongst the stallions, making them seem an oddly distant part of the story. The ending is unresolved: Ancona does his Levade (he is jealous of the stallion who does the Courbette) and that is where the story ends, with the comment that 'For all time there is the memory of living horses, and music, and the Airs of the Spanish School in Vienna-- '
Does the author mean that the horse’s feelings, whatever they might be, do not matter because their achievements live on in the memory? This reader certainly needed a little more direction at that point.
Daphne Machin Goodall’s non fiction is a much more inspiring read, but Silver Spring is an interesting curiosity. The dream quality Anne Bullen made implicit in many of her drawings is made explicit here: Silver Spring is staring into an equine paradise. Silver Spring is neither author nor illustrator’s greatest moment, but it does still retain a period charm.
Finding the book
Not incredibly common, but does turn up. The fact the illustrations are by Anne Bullen does, in some cases, put the price up.
Sources and links
Dustjackets of A History of British Native Ponies, Horses of the World
Pony Annual, 1966, Who’s Who (Vivien Boon)
Pony Club Book 7, 1956 - The Famous Goodall Huntsmen (Daphne Machin Goodall)