Hilda Bodenham Morris (1901- 1988) was the author of over thirty books, including the Noel series, the Marlow series, and at least nine pony books. Hilda had three children: Gillian, Patricia and Roger, and nine grandchildren, of whom one (Penny) was horsey. Hilda (who was always known as Zan), and her husband and family moved to Buckingham when Robert was appointed headmaster of a local secondary school. Money was tight, and Hilda began writing books to boost the family’s income. Her first book was an adult novel, Family Affair, and after that she began to write children’s books. Roger, the youngest of her children, always believed that Hilda’s books related incidents in that had happened to the family as children.
After Robert retired in the early 1960s, he and Hilda had a bungalow built at Nolton Haven near Newgale in Pembrokeshire, where they had spent family holidays. The area became the setting for many of her books. Once they were in Wales, Hilda went into what her grand daughter called “overdrive”, and her rate of book production shot up. Robert died in the late 1960s, and after that, Hilda led a nomadic existence, at one point deciding that she would live in Australia with her son: she was back after six weeks. Her last years were spent in a Quaker home in Gerrards Cross, near to her elder daughter, Gillian, and she died in 1988.
Her grand daughter, Penny said: “Whether those pony books were written with me in mind I don’t know though I was the only horsey grandchild amongst the nine and still have three horses now, and from the inscriptions in some of the books she obviously wanted me to like them, which I did. Also they had a pony, Primrose, when Pat and Roger were young, so that may have been the initial inspiration.”
Of Hilda Boden’s pony titles, her Joanna books are a pair,about a a girl whose guardians who are supposed to be looking after her, and her farm, but have to say the least of it, evil designs. The second book sees Joanna in much happier circumstances. Hilda Boden wrote no other pony series, though her children’s Marlow Family series numbered several titles.
Finding the books
Her Crown Pony Library titles are the easiest to find: Pony Girl in particular. Pony Trek is very hard to find with its dustjacket, and probably the hardest overall to source. Joanna Rides the Hills can be tricky. All the other titles are reasonably easy to find.
Links and sources
Thanks to Penny Shrimpton, Hilda Boden’s grand daughter, for the biographical information.
Many thanks to Lisa Catz for her help with the photographs.