Ponies, ponies, ponies


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Verily Anderson (1915- 2010) was an author whose writing received what her obituarist in The Times called “respectful attention”. The daughter of a vicar, she was born in Edgbaston, and grew up in East Sussex, where she went to Normanhurst School. Here, whether you owned a horse or not, foxhunting was on the curriculum. After school, Verily Anderson was accepted at the Royal College of Music, but her time there ended when her father stopped paying the fees when it became clear she would not succeed as a concert pianist. She had been a keen Guide, and by 1939, had become sub-editor on The Guide, the Girl Guides’ magazine.

In 1940 she married Donald Anderson, a playwright, and the couple both became freelance writers. They had five children, and when Donald died in 1956, Verily Anderson had to support the family on her own. She wrote about bringing up her family on virtually nothing (the wonderfully named Spam Tomorrow as well as five others), and wrote the eight book Brownie series. One of the Brownie books is reasonably pony orientated: The Brownies and the Ponies. Alas, the Brownies books were considered by the Girls’ Guide Association to be too exciting for it to support them. I have no Brownie experience with which to compare them, having not been allowed to join the Brownies, but I found the books completely enchanting as a child: they were a window into another world where girls worked together and had adventures. I find it difficult to comprehend how these innocent tales could have been considered too exciting, but perhaps that’s why my mother didn’t let me join: I would have been a subversive influence with my inaccurate mental vision of Browniehood, acquired by too much unwise reading.

Verily Anderson carried on writing virtually until her death: the day before she died, she finished a book about Herstmonceux Castle.

Finding the book: as far as I can see, it only had one publication. It’s reasonably easy to find, though can vary a bit in price.

Sources and links

Obituary of Verily Anderson, The Times , Saturday July 24th 2010

Obituary, The Independent, Tuesday 3rd August, 2010

Obituary, The Guardian, Thursday July 29th, 2010

Thank you to Lisa Catz for the photograph and summary.

Verily Anderson

The Brownies and the Ponies

Brockhampton Press, Leicester, 1965, 120 pp. Illus Edgar Norfield

“Joey is a Brownie who is horse mad, and has made her own stable and herd of toy horses, but
dreams of someday having her own live pony. Tulip is a Brownie who lives in the country. She
and Joey become friends while she is visiting her aunt and cousin in London. When her cousin
becomes ill, Tulip stays with Joey and her mother. Joey ends up going home with Tulip, and
eventually her mother rents a cottage which even has a donkey in the field. When the donkey’s
owner takes it away, Joey is disappointed, not knowing that she is soon to have adventures
with real ponies, especially a sweet little mare named Kitty.” 

Bibliography - pony books only

The Brownie Series

Amanda and the Brownies

The Brownies and the Golden Hand

The Brownies’ Day Abroad

The Brownies and the Ponies

The Brownies on Wheels

The Brownies and their Animal Friends

The Brownies and the Wedding Day

The Brownies and the Christening