Gladys Henriques Lister (1887–1957) was the seventh of ten children, and was born in Hawthorn, Victoria. Her family had emigrated to Australia from America, though her mother’s ancestry was Irish. After leaving school, Gladys Lister studied painting under Julian Ashton; married in 1913, and had two children, Peter and Roberta. They featured in her first book. She began writing in 1937, encouraged by Pixie O’Harris (Pixie O’Shaughnessy), who had a 2UE radio programme for which she wanted stories suitable for broadcasting.
Lister’s stories used what happened to her life, as well as current events. During the Second World War, some British children were evacuated to Australia, and her book Jennifer Stands By featured evacuees and their adventures. Gladys Lister had always owned a pony, to which she ascribed her love of horses. She wrote the Starlight series, which were all published in England by Collins: I haven’t been able to find any Australian publications at all. Two of the series, A Star for Starlight and Quest for Starlight, Austlit describes as travel books, as they include 'descriptions of post-war sea voyages made by Lister to North America, England and Europe.' The Leafy series was aimed at younger children; just one features a horse, as far as I know.
Finding the books
A Star for Starlight is very easy to find in its Children’s Press incarnation, and not impossible as the Collins edition. Starlight Belongs to Me and Quest for Starlight are not impossible, though slightly easier to find in Australia. Leafy and Prince Brumby tends to be a bit more expensive than the Starlight books, and you will almost certainly have to buy it from Australia.
Links and sources
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood for her help with the pictures.