Phipson, Joan

About the author

Joan Phipson (1912–2003) was born in Warawee, New South Wales, and spent her childhood travelling between Australia, England and India. She was educated at Frensham School, and in 1936 was commissioned by the headmistress, Winifred West, to start the Frensham Press. Their first publication was Frensham student Rosemary Dobson’s poems. Joan Phipson studied journalism, and during the war, worked for Reuters in London. She married a farmer (Colin Fitzhardinge) in 1944, and in the 1960s they moved to a farm, Wongalong, near Mandurama in Australia.

Phipson wrote 30 books, winning the Book of the Year Award of the Children’s Book Council of Australia for Good Luck to the Rider in 1953, winning again with The Family Conspiracy in 1963. Good Luck to the Rider was her first book, written when she was told to rest when pregnant. She wrote the book instead. Her earliest books were adventure stories, but she wrote darker, more complex books later in her career, and her contribution to Australian children’s literature was recognised in 1987 when she was awarded the Dromkeen medal. Nicholas Tucker, in her obituary, said: ‘Never talking down to her young readers, she preferred instead to travel with them on a voyage of mutual understanding and discovery.’

The bibliography below includes books in which the pony content is fairly minimal. Many thanks to Anne Pickles for sending me this: ‘Good luck to the rider is probably the only Joan Phipson book that is really a pony book. There are horses in The Boundary Riders, but they are not the focus of the book and horses are only incidental in her other books dealing with farming families.’

Finding the books
All the books listed below are easy to find. Boundary Riders was published by Puffin in paperback, and is the easiest, and cheapest to find.

Links and sources
Joan Phipson’s obituary in The Independent
An article on Joan Phipson
Wikipedia article on Joan Phipson
Many thanks to Danyele Foster for the photograph.

Bibliography (pony books only)

Good Luck to the Rider

Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1953, illus Margaret Horder
Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1968, 186 pp.
Pan Macmillan, Sydney, pb, 2001

A story about Australian country life, with country shows, mustering, camping-out, boarding-school life… Much of the story takes place on a sheep station.

Six and Silver

Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1954, illus Margaret Horder
Reprinted 1957
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, 1971, 190 pp.  
Five children, and Ted, their guide, go camping in the Karkoo Ranges. Silver the dog comes to the rescue when disaster happens on Mount Calca. City girl Tess finds life on the station very strange to her, but when they go on holiday by the sea, Jack finds it hard to accept his ignorance of surfing and sailing.  

It Happened One Summer

Angus & Robertson, 1957
Hamish Hamilton, Antelope Books, 1964, illus Margaret Horder

Jennifer arrives in Australia from England, and goes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins on their sheep farm. She learns to ride and becomes useful on the farm: especially when she and some sheep are threatened with disaster when they are cut off by fire. Jenny however knows a secret hiding place, and thanks to this she is able to stave off disaster.

Boundary Riders

Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1962
Constable & Co, London, 1962
Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1963
Puffin, Harmondsworth, pb, 1965, 1983
Kestrel Books, Harmondsworth, 1974,
Australian Children’s Classics Collected Editon, John Ferguson Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1981, hb, 370 pp.

Jane, Bobby and Vincent go off to inspect the fences on the far boundary, but then wander off to inspect a waterfall and get lost.

The Family Conspiracy

Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1962, illus Margaret Horder
Constable & Co, London, 1962
Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1964
Kestrel Books, 1974
The Boundary Riders and The Family Conspiracy, Australian Children’s Classics Collected Edition
John Ferguson Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1981, 370 pp.