Helme, Eleanor

About the author

Eleanor Helme was a witty and vivid writer, and an early contributor to the development of the pony book. She started her writing career as a golfing correspondent in 1910 for the Yorkshire Post: she was an excellent golfer herself and played for England in 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1920. Reporting on golf gave her time to indulge her other interests. She said:

‘… I enlivened a dull day’s reporting by watching, and describing, a butcher bird in a thorn bush. He was much more engaging than watching the golf. One of the weaker counties was holding a meeting; nobody could hit the ball more than 160 yards; if there was a bunker they made straight for it, when they arrived at the hole they carefully avoided it. The course was of the depressing kind which goes up and down (generally up) a field which, not so very long ago, was undoubtedly being plodded over by patient plough-horses. For a time I plodded with equal patience. Then I caught sight of my feathered friend. The lure was too strong.’

Eleanor Helme wrote four books on golf (all of them hard to find), and seven children’s books (one a compilation) on wildlife. If you can find them, these are beautifully illustrated and very attractive books, published by the Religious Tract Society, who also published her titles on Jesus. Again, these are rare. Much easier to find are her pony and farming stories. The majority of these are based on Exmoor, which she loved, and where she often holidayed. She and her sister, Vera, moved to Luccombe, on Exmoor, permanently after World War II, and here she built a house, ‘Three Gates.’

Her books have a very vivid sense of place. White Winter is a wonderful evocation of the sheer hard slog of living through the long and vicious winter of 1947 on Exmoor, and should be more widely read. It is part of the only series she wrote, about an Exmoor pony called Adam. All the titles are well worth finding. She wrote (with Nance Paul) a pair of books about an Exmoor pony, Jerry, which have considerable charm. One of my own favourites is Furlong Farm. The pony element is minimal, but it is a wonderful story of farming life.

Eleanor Helme was blessed with her illustrators: Lionel Edwards illustrated the Adam series, and Cecil Aldin Jerry. Her books are very attractive in their own right, and if you like the Country Life style of pony book, you will like these.

Finding the books
All the books are fairly easy to find, and generally reasonably priced. The early editions of Jerry and The Joker and Jerry Again can be hard to find in their earlier printing styles. The one really tricky book to find is Mayfly with its dustjacket. Without its dj, it’s very common.

Eric Rowlands: Eleanor Helme: Columnist, Golfer, Author, Reporter, Naturalist and Lover of Exmoor (Horner Mill Services, 2002)
Correspondence with Eric Rowlands
Many thanks to Amanda Dolby, Dawn Harrison. Jacquie Aucott and Alison MacCallum for their help with the pictures.


The Adam series
Shank’s Pony
Suitable Owners
White Winter

Bibliography (pony books only)

Jerry, the Story of an Exmoor Pony

written with Nance Paul
Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1930, 138 pp, illus Cecil Aldin
Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1949, 160 pp.

Robin Marston and his family come to holiday on Exmoor, and Robin spots an Exmoor foal he falls in love with. He is bought the colt, and some years later thefamily come to live on Exmoor permanently. Jerry is then old enough to be broken in.

The Joker and Jerry Again

written with Nance Paul
Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1932, 171 pp, illus Cecil Aldin
Reprinted as The Joker and Jerry
Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1953, 159 pp.

Mayfly the Grey Pony

Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1935, 163 pp, illus Lionel Edwards

The Chatton family fall on hard times, and have to move from London to Exmoor, to a house they have just inherited. They still have enough money to be able to take their horses with them, but thehorses have to work as hirelings now. Tony and his sister Diana soon adjust to their new way of life. Tony develops his talent as an artist, and still manages to show his pony Mayfly.

For copyright reasons, I have no example of this book

Runaway Mike

Peter Lovat, London, 1936, 136 pp, illus T Ivester Lloyd

This is the story of Mike, the circus boy, Pitch the black colt and Toss the sheepdog. Mayfly thegrey pony also puts in an appearance.

Shanks’s Pony

Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1946, 118 pp, illus Lionel Edwards

Davy lives in London, but during the Second World War, he is sent to Exmoor. At first he misses London, his family, and the animals he loves there, but he soon finds new things to love in Exmoor, and eventually achieves his dream, a life in the country.

For copyright reasons, I have no example of this book

Suitable Owners

Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 126 pp, 1948, illus Lionel Edwards

Collin manages to find the right pony (Adam) for his sister, Sue.

For copyright reasons, I have no example of this book

White Winter

Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1949, 176 pp, illus Lionel Edwards

Based on the long harsh winter of 1947, when the inhabitants of Exmoor were cut off from January to March, this sees the characters of Suitable Owners and Shank’s Pony stranded. Sue lends Adam to a friend, with nearly disastrous results. Collin is stranded with Miss Popham.

For copyright reasons, I have no example of this book

Dear Busybody

Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950, illus Lionel Edwards

Dear Busybody is set in 1897, when Phyllis Moberley is sent to Somerset to visit her aunt anduncle. Phyllis was brought up in Canada, so Victorian conventions puzzle her. She does soon owna horse and pony of her own, and is also soon on the track of a deer poacher.

For copyright reasons, I have no example of this book

Other children’s books

Five Thorns Farm

Seek There – a Story of Braemar
(With Nance Paul)
Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933,
illus Frank Wallace
Reprinted 1949

Roddy and Scuttle
(With Nance Paul)
Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933,
illus Charles Ambrose
Reprinted 1949

Furlong Farm
Country Life, 1938, illus Maurice Wilson

illustration from Furlong Farm
Golfing titles

The Lady Golfer’s Tip Book
Mills and Boon, 1923

The Best of Golf, by some Best Golfers (Ed)
Mills and Boon, London 1925

After the Ball, Merry Memoirs of a Golfer
Hurst & Blackett, 1931, illus Charles Ambrose

Family Golf
J M Dent, 1938, illus Barbara Turner

Religious and other works for children

Feathered Friends of Field and Forest
RTS, 1926, illus Barbara Briggs, reprinted 1928, 1932

Friends of Field and Forest
RTS, illus Barbara Briggs

Four Footed Helpers
RTS, 1927, illus Barbara Briggs

Down the Stream
RTS, 1929 illus Barbara Briggs

Animals of the Bible
RTS, 1927, illus Barbara Briggs

The Book of Birds and Beasties
RTS 1929, illus Barbara Briggs

Feathered Friends of Stream and Shore
RTS, 1929, illus Barbara Briggs, reprinted 1932

New Bible Picture Books
RTS, 1929, illus Harold Copping

The Perfect Friend: A Life of Jesus
RTS, 1929, illus Harold Copping, reprinted 1937

The Greatest Gift, some Bible Stories Retold
(With Maurice Kerr)
RTS, 1930, illus Harold Copping

In David’s Royal City
RTS, illus Harold Copping

Stories of our Lord
RTS, illus Harold Copping

Jesus, Lord and Master
RTS, illus Harold Copping

The Footsteps of Jesus
RTS, illus Harold Copping