About the author
Elizabeth Florence Stucley (1906-1974) came from North Devon, where her ancestors lived for centuries: they included Elizabethan pirates and Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge.
Elizabeth Stucley packed a considerable amount into her life. She taught, drove for the French Army during World War II (and apparently did a lot of escaping), nursed a consituency for the Conservative Party and wrote. Many of her books were informed by her own experiences; she ran a boys’ club, and wrote about her experiences in Teddy Boys’ Picnic (Anthony Blond, 1958). She also made a journey to the Hebrides, following the route of Johnson and Boswell (A Hebridean Journey with Boswell and Johnson, Christopher Johnson, 1956).
While she lived in Clapham in London, she would keep open house for the children who lived near her. They formed The Adventurers’ Club, and her book Magnolia Buildings was written for them. Her one pony book was written about a very different set of social circumstances. The Ranelaghs live in a grand house called Clomb, although their lives are rocked by wild Irish Kit. It’s an absorbing read: the Ranelagh family have been paralysed by a combination of grief and the tyrannical reign of an old governess in the school room. Kit at first is shocked almost into submission by the intense atmosphere of fear and gloom, but she fights it off, aided by her discovery of a pony living with an elderly farmer nearby. The Irish brogue is thankfully fairly limited; the pony if the book were to be published today would probably have to undergo a name change (he’s called Piccaninny) but the book is a good read: along with Kit, you long for the family to break free and start living life again.
Finding the book
Not hugely common, so pricing can be erratic.
The Secret Pony
Faber & Faber, London, 1950, illus Richard Kennedy, 214 pp.
Kit, used to a free life in Ireland, finds her three Devon cousins repressed and kept down. Their old family governess dominates the school room, and their grandparents are still mourning the death of the cousins’ father out hunting. Kit introduces her cousins to the joys of a normal childhood.