Selby-Lowndes, Joan

About the author

Joan Selby-Lowndes was educated at Wycombe Abbey and St Stephen’s College, Folkestone. She studied French at university, and took her Licence-en-Lettres at the Institut Francais de Lille at de Paris. She translated several French works, including some by René Guillot. During the war, Joan Selby-Lowndes served as a major in the ATS, and was mentioned in dispatches. She wrote about what she knew: she spent some years teaching at the Italia Conti Stage School, and most of her fictional works involve performing in some way or other: ballet, film and the circus all feature.

Her first book, Mail Coach, is mostly about Richard, who is desperate to ride in Astley’s Circus in London. Once his father buys a talented grey pony, Richard’s mind is made up, and he runs away. Family Star is about pantomime: Jenny loves the family pony, Kitty, who helps the family earn its living by pulling a flower cart, but when she is lamed, it looks as if disaster looms, but Jenny’s theatrical talents save the day.

Joan Selby-Lowndes kept a horse-drawn caravan and pony, who perhaps inspired Kitty, and she wrote a non-fiction book about her travels: Home with a Horse.

Finding the books
Family Star is reasonably easy to find; Home with a Horse is easiest to find in its Large Print incarnation, but turns up frequently as a paperback too. Mail Coach is easy to find.

Sources and links
Dustjacket of Family Star


Mail Coach

Collins, London, 1945, illus the author

This is the story of three children who live outside London, but whose fortune becomes mixed up with the city. Betsey learns to be a maid; F’rick wants to play the violin, and Richard wants to ride at Astley’s Circus. He and runs away to do it, and discovers how easy it is for life to change round in a flash.

Tudor Star

Collins, London, 1949, 256 pp, illus the author

An historical story set in Tudor times: Jane, Tom and Ned see see Harry and his new horses. Harry rides in the brutal style recommended by masters such as Gervase Markham, but one of the new horses, a grey Arab, refuses to suffer this treatment. Can the children rescue the horse? And sort out a considerable adventure besides?

Family Star

Collins, London, 1961, illus Dick Hart

It was Jenny’s birthday, and although it started well, it ended badly when she found the family pony, Kitty, who pulled her father’s flower cart, was lame.  This puts the family in a spot, but then Jenny gets a part in a pantomime, which has a part for Kitty too.

Home with a Horse

Aston, Oxford, 148pp.

Non fiction – this is the story of a journey Joan Selby Lowndes took with a friend in the 1950s.