Bowes-Lyon, Sarah

About the author

All horses are fit for heaven but few men

Horsemanship as it is Today

Sarah Bowes-Lyon (1920–2002) is best known for her Horsemanship as it is Today. Hugh Dent, who ran the publishers Dent, issued the first edition. Martin Dent, who issued the 1970s reprint said that ‘he and his staff, of whom I was one, found it enchanting and quite remarkable for its clarity and passionate sincerity.’

This facsimile of her own production was reprinted many times. It is by far the best of her books, having a directness and freshness many non fiction equine tomes lack. In the epilogue to Horsemanship, she wrote:

Always be thoughtful for your pony and see that he is always just as happy as you, and above all, try to make him love you, then he will do anything for you, it is done by kindness and good treatment.

“Love stands through all
And wins the day”!

Horsemanship as it is Today

The book was extremely popular when it was published, and went into three editions in its first year of publication.

Her next book, Harum-Scarum, published in 1934, was fiction. It is not a bad book: it is a tragedy, and the emotional storms show its author’s youth.

You Were There (1938) is a very different animal. Written when the author was eighteen, it’s a series of short stories and sketches. Some of them reveal what the author’s life was like as an aristocrat; some are very bleak indeed. The book is illustrated by the author’s own sketches, and according to The Bookseller, was mostly written before she was seventeen. It met a mixed critical reception. The Western Mail remarked, rather acidly that ‘it had little to commend it unless naiveté is a commendation.’ Ivor Lambe in the Daily Mirror described it as ‘dreamily idealistic’ though allowed the drawings were ‘interesting’. The same article also noted (as well as the fact she was the Queen’s second cousin, which is noted in just about every piece of press coverage I have found, and there are many) that she had a contract for a novel, but had until she was 40 to turn it in.

As far as I know, she wrote no books under the name Sarah Bowes-Lyon. She did contribute to Noel Streatfeild’s The Years of Grace, published in 1950, and took part in a radio broadcast in 1939 called in Jack Hylton’s Youth Takes a Bow feature. She was included as a ‘1939 success girl’.

If you think the name Bowes-Lyon sounds familiar, you’d be right. She was a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1940 she married Peter Dudley Ryder, who was once chairman of the Heinemann Group. Pathé News covered the wedding, and you can see it here:

In later life, she lived in the Isle of Man.

Finding the books
Horsemanship and Harum-Scarum are very easy to find. You Were There is slightly less so.

Sources and links

The Bookseller, Saturday 17 September 1977
The Daily Mirror – Thursday 08 September 1938
Birmingham Mail, Tuesday 24 January 1939
Horsemanship as it is Today, 1977 reprint, Dent
Bookseller – Thursday 08 September 1938
Daisy May Johnson wrote a review of The Years of Grace
Western Mail, Thursday 08 September 1938

Bibliography (pony books only)


J M Dent & Son, London, 1933, 93 pp.
EP Dutton & Co, New York, 1934
Dent, London, 1977, 94 pp. Facsimile reprint of original

Non  fiction, this is a treatise on how to care for your pony, written and illustrated by the author and printed in facsimile form.

harum-scarum, the life story of fa horse

J M Dent & Sons, London, 1934, 62 pp. Illus the author

A review of the book

This book tells the story of Harum-Scarum. He becomes the mount of a soldier, but is left behind when his owner is posted to Egypt. Eventually Harum-Scarum and Joe are reunited and Harum-Scarum goes back to Egypt with him, but tragedy awaits.

you were there

Hutchinson, London, 1938, 143 pp, illus the author

A collection of short stories and sketches by the author.