Cole, Babette

About the author

Babette Cole (1950–2017) wrote and illustrated children’s books: mostly of the early reader type, but Babette Cole’s world was not one of mimsy whimsy. She gives it to the infant reader straight. Dr Dog, mainstay of my children’s childhood, does not flinch from nits or worms. Her Fetlocks Hall series is aimed at the confident reader, and is set at a manic boarding school. Its heroine, Penny Simms, becomes the Unicorn Princess, and centre of the fight against the wicked Shetland-sized devlipeds. Having loved her books for younger children, I was expecting to love the Fetlocks Hall books: the devlipeds I loved; the rest I wasn’t quite as convinced by. Nevertheless the series is an interesting excursion into a field usually populated by creatures of an utterly sickly goodness, and the pictures are of course wonderful.

Babette Cole had a solid equestrian background. She owned and ran the Holnest Stud, and founded the Patey Hats Legover Ladies’ Chasing Team – the only chase team to ride sidesaddle. Babette hunted with the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale on Scrappit, riding sidesaddle. The hunt’s country was “infamous for its mud and meaty hedges”, but although only 15 hh, Scrappit had learned to surf over the mud.

Finding the books
All in print.

Links and sources
Babette Cole’s website
Holnest Park Stud website (no longer extant)


The Fetlocks Hall series
The Unicorn Princess
The Ghostly Blinkers
The Enchanted Pony
The Curse of the Pony Vampires

Bibliography (pony books only)


Bloomsbury, London, 2010, illustrated by the author, 148 pp.

Read a review of the book here.

Penny Simms is pony mad, and she wins a scholarship place at Fetlocks Hall. Fetlocks Hall is no ordinary school – it’s the site of a battle between good (unicorns) and evil (devlipeds) and Penny is right there in the middle of it when she becomes the Unicorn Princess.


Bloomsbury, London, 2010, illustrated by the author, 122 pp.

Read a review of the book here.

Fetlocks Hall is in dire financial trouble. If Potty Smythe can’t sort it out, the school might have to close.  


Bloomsbury, London, 2011, illustrated by the author

Pip’s parents have disappeared and she and Penny are (fortunately) determined to solve the mystery.


Bloomsbury, London, 2011, illustrated by the author

The devlipeds have sent a flock of evil smelling pony vampires to infest Fetlocks Hall: this is all the more worrying as Fetlocks Hall is about to face its annual inspection.