Chipperfield, Joseph

Joseph Chipperfield was born in Cornwall on 20 April 1912 and died on 3 Jan 1976. He worked as an editor for the Authors’ Literary Service from 1930-1934, and as an editor and scriptwriter for documentary films from 1934-1940. The vast majority of his books were about animals: principally dogs and horses, though eagles and stags feature too.

His subjects were usually wild: his books are a world away from gymkhanas and hacking. The world of men is seen as a threat to the animals: in Banner, in which men are determined to catch the legendary horse - a fate which most of Chipperfield’s horses share - the reader is left in no doubt “that the frontiers of the west are pushing in and destroying the old ways of life,” a preoccupation Chipperfield shared with Monica Edwards and her Punchbowl Farm books: set on an altogether more domestic scale but again portraying the tension between old ways and the need to make a living.

Joseph Chipperfield’s books are still popular, though none alas seem to be in print now. Cecilia Gordon says that you will not find “Chipperfield’s books learnedly analysed” (and I haven’t yet been able to find anything but that isn’t to say it doesn’t exist) “but neither will you find them sitting unread on library shelves.”

Finding the books
Dark Fury and Ghost Horse are very easy and cheap to find as paperbacks: as hardbacks with dustjackets they are harder. Banner is easy to find in its CBC version; and not impossible to find as the original hardback. Checoba is reasonably easy to find. Silver Star is very difficult to find indeed.

Sources and Links
Joseph Chipperfield: Cecilia Gordon, in 20th Century Children’s Writers, St James Press 1989, ed Tracey Chevalier. 3rd edn.