The Collins Pony Library was published in the 1970s, and mostly consisted of books Collins had already published, but in a new format. The books were published as hardbacks with specially commissioned pictorial covers, and no dustjackets. They were cheaper than the originals, and the paper quality was not particularly good: surviving books tend to have browned pages. However, the Pony Library was an excellent way for the pony-mad child to buy a better quality book than a paperback. I had three titles myself as a child, and they had pride of place amongst my library. If I could have found more (rural Northamptonshire was a bit restricted on what it allowed the pony book buyer) I would have bought them. When I look back at them now, they have lost their visual appeal: but I thought them the last word in sophistication when I was young. Collins had obviously carefully worked out what would appeal to the pony-mad girl and they gave it to her: bright, sometimes crudely coloured covers with a slightly other-world quality.
The Collins Pony Library included some titles it published as first editions: Patricia Leitch’s Rebel Pony and Pony Surprise, and Lilias Edwards’ Stable to Let. Collins took the opportunity to reissue some of Patricia Leitch’s earlier works, which she’d written under the name Jane Eliot for Collins’ Spitfire series. Her Afraid to Ride, First Pony, and Jacky Jumps to the Top were all originally Spitfire.
As to whether any of the books are abridged, it’s probable, apart from the first editions of course. The Monica Edwards titles have had some alterations. From John Allsup’s site on Monica Edwards, I gather that Wish for a Pony has lost its frontispiece, but is otherwise the same. Cargo of Horses has lost four illustrations. No Entry is abridged, and has only five of the original illustrations. Black Hunting Whip is abridged. The new front cover is by Geoffrey Whittam.
How often, if at all, the Pony Library titles were reprinted is difficult to tell. The British Library doesn’t list any reprints, but then it doesn’t have all the titles anyway, so this is not conclusive! At any rate, Collins did not continue the Pony Library into the 1980s. My enquiries with Collins are, so far, unfruitful, so I assume sales simply didn’t warrant their re-printing.
Many thanks to Bettina for supplying the photographs from her epic collection.
10. Pony Club Camp – Josephine Pullein-Thompson
13. Stable to Let – Lilias Edwards
14. First Pony – Patricia Leitch
15. Jacky Jumps to the Top – Patricia Leitch
16. Ponies on the Heather – Frances Murray
17. The Surprise Riding Club – Elinore Havers
18. A Pony for Two – Denise Hill
19. Rebel Pony – Patricia Leitch
20. Afraid to Ride – Patricia Leitch
21. Clear Round – Pamela MacGregor Morris
22. The Trick Jumpers – Josephine Pullein-Thompson
23. We Rode to the Sea – Christine Pullein-Thompson
24. A Pony for Sale – Diana Pullein-Thompson
25. Ride by Night – Christine Pullein-Thompson
26. Three Ponies and Shannan – Diana Pullein-Thompson
27. I Had Two Ponies – Josephine Pullein-Thompson
28. Show Jumping Secret – Josephine Pullein-Thompson
29. Black Hunting Whip– Monica Edwards
30. Pony Surprise – Patricia Leitch