About the author
Hilda Bodenham Morris (1901–88) 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.
Joanna Rides the Hills
Joanna’s Special Pony
Bibliography (pony books only)
A&C Black, London, 1947, illus Mary Shillabeer
John and Jennifer, and their mother Jane, plan a visit to Wales to buy two Welsh ponies. Rather than take the ponies back home by train, they plan to ride them back, with a bicycle for the person not riding.
Many thanks to Lisa Catz for the photograph.
one more pony
A&C Black, London, 1952, illus Mary Shillabeer
Pat and Jacky rescue a neglected pony whom they call One More. An unusual story, this one combines archaeology at the hands of Professor Pettigrew, who is exploring caves, as well as the usual pony adventures, with two other ponies: Starlight and Moonlight.
Lutterworth, London, 1955, 96 pp. Cover illustrator uncredited
Not an enormous amount of pony content, but there is some. John and Caroline and Michael think they will haveto spend another holiday in London, but they end up spending it in the country with their mother. There they have a chance of finding treasure in the garden, help on a farm, and have a pony to ride, as well as triumphing at the Village Show.
Colin finds his Welsh pony on the mountains. As he’s black and beautiful, Colin calls him Merlyn, which means Little Horse. To learn how to train him, Colin gets a book out of the library, acquires tack by cleaning leather, and then meets Lucy, who helps him to win the Best Pony class on Merlyn at the Summer Show. However,Lucy wants a pony like Merlyn for herself.
Lutterworth, Crown Pony Library, 1959
Molly Mallory and her family come from Ireland to live in London. They live in a small, dirty street in a tatty part of the city, but there is a pony there, though he lives in a field which is under threat of being built on. Molly seems to be the only one who cares for the pony.
little grey pony
Reprinted in paperback, Crown Pony, 1975
Sally is confined to a wheelchair and can no longer ride. However, her sister buys the little grey pony so Sally can drive him, and together they go on holiday to Hadrian’s Wall.
joanna’s special pony
Burke, London, 1960, illus Lilias Buchanan
Reprinted in paperback, Burke, Junior Pacemaker, 1964
Reprinted as Pony Adventure, Burke,1965, together with two Sheila Chapman titles)
Joanna inherits the family farm from her grandfather, but Mr and Mrs Sythe, who are to run it for her and look after her are out only for themselves. Joanna is not allowed to ride the wild ponies, and Mr Sythe threatens to sell them. Joanna enlists her friends to help her save the ponies – including her “special pony”. In the end, she is stranded on an uninhabited island but manages to defeat the Sythes nevertheless.
NOEL AND THE DONKEYS
Burke, London, 1960, 124 pp, illus Dorothy Clark
This book is part of a series about Noel and his adventures.
joanna rides the hills
Burke, 1961, illus Lilias Buchanan
Joanna has let the farm she inherited, and is living with the Whitleys, whose son David and niece Shirley are her friends. She takes Sandy, her hill pony, with her, but although she’s happy with the Whitleys, poor Joanna isn’t lucky with the people who look after her farm, and Mr Curtis soon proves he fully deserves the apprehension Joanna feels when she sees him.
The Crooked Blaze
Riding Magazine, November, 1949, illus Cavesson