Daniels, Lucy

Lucy Daniels is a publisher’s construct: the epic (and very popular) series of Animal Ark books for which the name is best known were written by several different authors. Like other successful series (Heartland, for example) it was created by Working Partners Ltd, who create a series concept and author identity and then farm it out to several different writers.

Ben Baglio, an American book packager, and Rod Ritchie, managing director of Hodder before it merged with Headline, were responsible for the concept after Baglio had in mind an “idealised setting that harked back to those non-existent golden days when everyone knew each other, but nobody pried. I also had in mind a middle-American view of England as thatched cottages, but without the caricature, as I thought this might attract US sales."

The name Lucy Daniels was chosen because they wanted a woman author: Lucy was the name of a Hodder editor, and Daniels was chosen so the books would sit next to Colin Dann’s successful Farthing Wood books.

The Animal Ark series’ heroine is Mandy Hope, who lives with her veterinary surgeon parents. This situation means there are always new animals appearing, with interesting stories to be told: there are at least 60 titles so far.

There is plenty of information out there about the Animal Ark series; what I’ve done in this section is pulled out the titles which are specifically about horses and ponies. There have been several spin offs from the main series: Little Animal Ark is aimed at younger readers; Animal Ark Hauntings capitalises on the current desire for the supernatural in children’s books.

One of the Lucy Daniels series is just about ponies: the Perfect Ponies trilogy features Josie Grace, who has to find homes for the horses at her family’s riding school now it has closed.

“Lucy Daniels” has a biography on the Hodder site: I assume this is because Hodder don’t want to upset their readers by admitting Lucy doesn’t actually exist. It is possible to identify who wrote individual titles in the series by checking the copyright page of each book: “Special thanks to....” refers to the author. It would be an interesting project to trace every title and check the authors. Some American titles (eg Mustang in the Mist) appear under the name Ben M Baglio rather than Lucy Daniels.

Finding the books
Many are still in print. All are easy to find, and generally reasonably priced. Some titles were changed for the American market.

Sources and links
Hodder on Lucy Daniels and the Animal Ark site
An interview with Lucy Daniels
The Lucy Daniels authors, The Guardian, 22nd March, 2000
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood and Annette York for their help with the photographs.