Northcote Parkinson, Cyril

About the author

Cyril Northcote Parkinson (1909–93) is rather better known for being the inventor (or codifier) of Parkinson’s Law: that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion.’ He was a naval historian, and after being demobbed in 1945, was appointed lecturer in history at the University of Liverpool. In 1950 he became Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaysia in Singapore. He wrote extensively: there was an adult naval series as well as naval history, and biographies of Jeeves and Hornblower.

He wrote one children’s book: Ponies Plot. At the time he wrote it, he was living in Guernsey, where the household included :

‘three children, two ponies (Fairy and Spice), one dog (Shandy) and one ginger cat called Sherry. Fairy is a Welsh Pony so musically talented that she might have had a career in Grand Opera. Spice is very small, comes from Dartmoor, and is popular in the Pony Club. Shandy is believed to be Dalmation in parts but these are not the parts you see. Sherry once caught a mouse, or so he says. Spice, to whom this book is dedicated, was given the first copy; and ate it.’

Ponies Plot is unlike virtually every other pony book. As C Northcote Parkinson says in the preface:

‘In the ordinary run of pony books the story centres on a small girl who dreams of ponies, wants a pony, secures a pony for nothing (saving it from ill-treatment in a gypsy encampment), rides it with growing confidence and ends with First Prize in the Hunter Trials. Among ponies, however, the same story would be told with the pony as hero. Ill-treated and underfed, Blackie dreams about children, wants a child for himself, plans to attract Brenda’s attention, defeats the scheme of a rival pony, saves the girl from drowning, wins over the reluctant parents and finally (guess what?) wins First Prize in the Hunter Trials.’

Finding the book
The book is very easy to find in its Puffin incarnation; and certainly not impossible as a hardback.

Links and sources
Ponies Plot
The Wikipedia article on C Northcote Parkinson

Bibliography (pony books only)

Ponies Plot

John Murray, 1965, illus Violet Morgan
Puffin, pb, 1968

The equine inhabitants of Daisy Dedleigh-Sirkett’s Dundreary Riding School have had enough. Their only hope of escaping the dreary daily round is to be bought by pony-hunting parents, but their plans are forestalled when Daisy gets engaged and the ponies are scattered to different homes.