Cresswell, Helen

About the author

Helen Cresswell (1934–2005) was educated at Nottingham High School, and King’s College London, where she studied literature. She taught for a brief period, until her first book, Sonya-by-the-Shore, was published. She was a prolific author, producing over 100 books, her best being thought to be The Piemakers (1967) about a family who created the biggest and best pie ever.

Her influence on children and the stories they were exposed to was profound, as she wrote for Jackanory Playhouse, as well as producing several television series for children, based on her books. These included the Bagthorpes (a chaotic family with a mother addicted to too much brandy), and dreamy Lizzie Dripping, whose friend was an imaginary witch. (I still remember my surprise when the actress who played her, Tina Heath, turned up on Blue Peter as a presenter – Lizzie Dripping actually attracted a higher audience than Blue Peter.) Helen Cresswell did not write pony books as such: a few of her stories feature ponies or donkeys, but her focus was always on the family.

In later life, Helen Cresswell’s work for television waned, as Tracey Beaker and gritty realism took over the schedules.

Finding the books
None of the books are particularly hard to find, though very good firsts of Pietro and the Mule can be a little trickier.

Sources and links
The British Library catalogue
Obituary: The Guardian, 27 September 2005
Obituary, The Independent, 28 September, 2005 (no longer extant)

Bibliography (pony books only)


Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1964, illus Robin Jacques, 56 pp.
Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1965, 64 pp.
Dell Paperbacks,
Reprinted as The Little Sea Pony – Harper Trophy, New York, 1997, 80 pp.
Reprinted (with other short stories) as The Little White Sea Horse and Other Sea Magic
Target Paperbacks, London, 1975

Molly’s father brings her back a very strange catch:  a little sea horse. Although they want to care for him, the rest of the village does not think the same way,


Oliver & Boyd, London & Edinburgh, 1965, illus Maureen Eckersley, 58 pp.
Bobbs Merrill, New York, 1965, 58 pp.
Republished as The Little Grey Donkey
Hodder, London, 1998, pb, illus Jason Cockcroft

Pietro offers to help his grandfather by delivering his vegetable while the
grandfather is in hospital. This involves driving a donkey, but she won’t

Donkey days

Ernest Benn, London, 1977, illus Shirley Hughes