West, Joyce

About the author

Joyce West (1908–85) was born in Auckland, New Zealand and educated in Maori schools (where her parents were teachers) and by correspondence. The family lived a remote, rural existence, rode everywhere, and kept a large menagerie of animals. When she began to write, she said, ‘it was with the wish that I might save a little of the charm and flavour of those times and places for the children of today.’

Her books are cracking reads. It’s fairer to say they’re studies of families and their dealings, rather than horse stories. Horses do play a major part in some of her books, but it’s the humans and their emotions that you remember best after you’ve read the books.

Joyce West also wrote for adults. She collaborated with Mary Scott on a series of murder mysteries featuring Inspector Wright. There is some horse content in two of the books, which I’ve listed here.

Finding the books
Reasonably easy to find, but considerably easier if you’re in Australia or New Zealand.

Links and sources
Tom Fitzgibbon on Joyce West, 20th Century Children’s Authors, 1978
Many thanks to Bettina Vine for all her help with the Inspector Wright books.


Drover’s Road

Drover’s Road
Cape Lost
The Golden Country

Bibliography (pony books only)

Drover’s Road

J M Dent & Sons, London, 1953, 186 pp.
The Drover’s Road Collection: River Road, Sea Island, Drover’s Road
Bethlehem Books, US, 2003

The Year of the Shining Cuckoo

Paul’s Book Arcade, Hamilton, 1961
J M Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1963
Roy, New York, 1964
Kotare Books, (Hodder & Stoughton, Auckland), 1985

Johnnie and Raine set out to earn the money to buy the beautiful filly Golden Melody. Meanwhile, they hunt for Moa bones, and have plenty of adventures while the adults sort their own lives out (eventually).

Cape Lost

J M Dent & Sons, London, 1963, 156 pp, illus the author

Gabrielle Allen, heroine of this story, appears also in Drovers Road. There are plenty of changes caused by the marriage of her uncle Dunsany. They make a visit to the sheep station (Cape Lost) belonging to Great Uncle Garnet, who has never lost faith in his beautiful wife who left him years ago. Gabrielle makes a discovery that causes profound changes for her.

The Golden Country

Lackwood and Janet Paul, Hamilton & Auckland, 1965
J M Dent & Sons, London, 1965, illus the author

Gabrielle Allen has come to Cape Lost to live, but life’s not straightforward. She needs help, and she finds it in some unorthodox places. Besides trying to keep the sheep station going, Gabrielle has romantic complications she didn’t foresee.

Books for adults

Fatal Lady

Paul’s Book Arcade, Auckland, 1960, 204 pp

The Fatal Lady of the title is a racehorse. One day, her owner is found, seemingly kicked to death by the horse. There is just one thing wrong: the horse loved her owner, and some of the community begin to have suspicions that all is not as it seems. Sara works for local trainer Dalby Lord, and she soon becomes involved in the mystery, as does Inspector Wright.

No Red Herrings

(with Mary Scott)
Paul’s Book Arcade, Auckland/Angus & Robertson, London, 1964, 187 pp

Beth Sutherland wins a quiz contest and her prize is a visit to Honolulu. Soon after she returns to New Zealand she disappears, just after the discovery of a murder in the village. It’s another case for Inspector Wright. Minimal horse content!