Jane de Bargue Hubert Water Wagtail whilst young: it’s very hard to find, but seems to have made an impact on those who read it when young. I’ve never had a copy more than a few days. It’s the story of a girl overcoming her fear of riding, and, after refusing to abandon a pony condemned as dangerous, riding him to success at a show. It is, as the author says, a derivative plot, but still not the typical pony-tells-Its-story that was produced by teenage girls in the 1940s and 1950s.
Jane de Bargue Hubert started writing when she was condemned to bed for weeks at the age of 8, with rheumatic fever. Happy Star the Pony is long since lost, but her next book, Water Wagtail, was published when she was 14. Her mother had the book typed up, and sent it to Jane’s grandfather, who had a connection with Eyre & Spottiswoode, the publishers. They published it, and to celebrate, her school, Horsham High School, had a half day holiday.
Jane describes the book as ‘complete and utter wish fulfilment’. She had no pony then, although she did have a donkey. She later had a pony, but then ‘spent years as a teenager earning rides by mucking out stables, but the passion faded to some extent in my later teens, and I wanted to go to university. I still have a yen to be among horses, and to ride, and still do sometimes. I still intend to start riding more often…’
Jane is now a social anthropologist, and writes on highly vulnerable people who have severe and profound learning disabilities and mental health problems.
Finding the book
The book is very hard to find indeed, and can be expensive when it does turn up.
My interview with Jane Hubert: read the full interview here.
Thank you to Sarah Beasley for the photograph.