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Vian Smith did not write conventional pony stories. His books aren’t cosy, but they are very well worth the effort. His Come Down the Mountain is a taut picture of teenage stubbornness in the face of convention, as Brenda defies the village to rescue a horse. Author Gillian Taylor described them as 'more of a human drama than the pony adventure or wish fulfilment.'
Vian Smith was born in Totnes in 1919, and spent much of his holidays with his grandparents at their farm in Holne. Dartmoor was a presence in many of his books. After he left school, he worked as an office boy, and an apprentice before becoming a sapper during the war. During all this time he wrote, and his first published book in 1946, Song of the Unsung, was based on his war experiences. After the war he worked as a journalist on the South Devon journal, as well as writing. He died in 1969.
Finding the books
Come Down the Mountain, Parade of Horses, Martin Rides the Moor and The Lord Mayor’s Show are all very easy to find. King Sam is hard to find, but easy in its paperback version, Tall and Proud. Minstrel Boy, Moon in the River, The Horses of Petrock and Green Heart are reasonably easy to find, but more expensive. Question Mark/Pride of the Moor tends to be difficult to find.
Links and sources
Many thanks to Annette York, Susan Bourgeau, Alison MacCallum and Danyele Foster for the photos.