About the author
Peggie Cannam wrote full-time, but before that worked as a nurse in a children’s hospital, in an office, and in the Women’s Land Army for three years. After the war, she worked on poultry farms, but then moved to Jersey where she carried on in agricultural work. Her books did not pay her enough to live on all the time, so she would do whatever came along to keep the wolf from the door: type, work in shops, can tomatoes or pick potatoes! Peggie had a pony of her own, Firefly, and her book Hoof Beats tells her story, and how Peggie and a friend started their own Pony Club, The Stirrup.
Peggie Cannam started writing while she was at school. She enjoyed English and Art most, and was, she said “hopeless at everything else.” Her first book, She Wanted a Pony (1951) was based on her favourite pony book, Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka, and on the style of Joanna Cannan, which Peggie copied until she evolved her own style. Many of her books were inspired by real-life incidents. Black Fury (1953) came about after Peggy heard two people talking about a horse so wild it was shut permanently into its stable. Seeing a beautiful thoroughbred pulling a cart gave her the inspiration for Triple Bar (1956).
School stories were still popular when Peggie Cannam produced most of her books, and she combined two genres; the school and the pony story in two of her books. Riding for Ridge Abbey and Musical Ride are both set at boarding schools. School story experts Sue Sims and Hilary Clare describe her as writing pony books which have school as “a convenient background’,” and think her a poor and stereotypical writer.
After returning from teaching in Africa, Peggie wrote several books for the Scandinavian Stabenfeldt imprint in the 1990s. Alas these have not been printed in English.
Finding the books
Almost all the books are easy to find: the one exception is Corn and Carrot Tops, which can be elusive.
Interview with Peggie Cannam; correspondence with the author
Dustjackets of her books
Encyclopaedia of Girl’s School Stories, Sims & Clare
Many thanks to Amanda Dolby for the photographs.
SHE WANTED A PONY
Museum Press, London, 1951, 240 pp.
Andrew Dakers (date difficult to trace: possibly 1958)
Many thanks to Amanda Dolby for the photographs.
Ruth Fraser-Philpotts is the daughter of rich parents, who move to the country because it’s what their rich friends do, and has a pony, Socks, bought for her. Pat Simkins goes to the same school as Ruth. They don’t like each other,but Ruth offers to have Pat and her ponies, about to be made homeless, to stay for the holidays. They meet Monica Fletcher, and she falls for Socks and decides to buy him.
Lutterworth, London, 1953, 153 pp.
Whittlesey House, New York, 1956, 180 pp, illus Wesley Dennis
Published in Three Great Horse Stories, Whittlesey House, New York, 1955
with Mildred Mastin Pace’s Old Bones the Wonder Horse & Henry V Larom’s Mountain Pony and the Pinto Colt
Shillagh was shut up because she was so wild, but Nick and she found a new future together.
RIDING FOR RIDGE ABBEY
Lutterworth, London, 1954, 143 pp, illus Bowe
Ridge Abbey School wants to win the Heal-Westway Cup again but Miss Pattycott’s Academy of Riding is competing too. Julie is a favourite for the team until she lames her pony, and then Penny and the stubborn Boxer are the only ones who can win the cup for the school.
HOOF BEATS (REMINISCENCES, WITH PHOTOGRAPHS AND PORTRAITS)
Phoenix House, London, 1955, 160 pp.
Children’s Book Club, 1955
This is the true story of four friends – two girls, Peggie and Tim, and their two ponies, Firefly and Sherry. At first they shared Peggie’s pony. When they only had Firefly, one of the girls had to accompany the other on a bicycle when they went riding, but at last they got Sherry and their adventures took on a different cast. They started a pony club called the ‘Stirrup’, produced several gymkhanas and had a club photograph taken. They also rode, hunted and camped.
Lutterworth Press, London, 1956, 179 pp, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Cobber belonged to Lida from the time he was born. His mother was a famous show jumper and Lida trained Cobber as a show jumper too. Then Lida rode him, disastrously, in a gymkhana, and they were parted. Cobber did become a successful show jumper until he was lamed and had to be sold and so went down in the world. It looked as if he might end up at the knacker’s; but found a new life with a kind old man and a travelling show.
Lutterworth, London, 1958, 151 pp. Cover illus Sheila Rose
They ride at Gerry’s school and she loves it; that is until the head mistress decides to employ a proper riding teacher, rather than letting the older pupils teach. The new teacher is very strange: she doesn’t appear to know much about horses, and she certainly doesn’t like the girls. Is there more to her than it seems?
CORN AND CARROT TOPS: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PONY AS TOLD TO PEGGIE CANNAM
Epworth Press, London, 1960, 146 pp, illus Nina Scott Langley
Many thanks to Amanda Dolby for the picture.
A pony tells his own story of his decision to visit London.
DAS PFERD VOM TRÖDLER (SECONDHAND HORSE)
JAG VILL BARA HA ROSIE ( I JUST WANT ROSIE)
DAS RÄTSELHAFTE PONY (THE MYSTERIOUS PONY)
DIE GEHEIMNISVOLLE REITERIN (GHOST RIDER)