Frost, Frances

About the author

Frances Frost (1905–59) was educated at Middlebury College and the University of Vermont. She wrote several volumes of poetry (and was the mother of the poet Paul Blackburn). Although she won prizes for her poetry (The Yale Prize for her early poems; the Golden Rose Award of the New England Poetry Club and the Shelley Memorial Award) she never achieved national renown. It was as a children’s author that she earned much of her living, writing the popular Windy Foot series, about the Clark family and their Shetland pony Windy Foot. Set in North America, the series describes a solidly rural existence, where horses were a necessary part of life; a possibly idyllic world, where life was hard work, but the community pulled together and helped one another out.

Frances Frost’s own life did not reflect the solid and traditional life she portrayed; although Vermont inspired her novels and poetry, she did not live there beyond her early adulthood. Margaret Edwards in her Sketch of a Vermont Poet, called her “both a success and a failure in the most perplexing combination.” Edwards believed Frances Frost’s alcohol dependency held some of the key to her lack of major success, together with her “peculiar psychological pain, a blend of fear, regret, angst, pride and restlessness.”

Finding the books
All are reasonably easy to find in the US. Very good first editions with dustjackets tend to be expensive. None of the Windy Foot titles had a British publication.

Links and sources
Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
Many thanks to Alison McCallum for the photographs and author info, and to Lisa Catz for the summaries.
Margaret Edwards on Frances Frost and her poetry (PDF from the Vermont Historical Society)
Frances Frost – biographical information from the University of California, which holds some of her papers, via the Online Archive of California.
A fan page on the Windy Foot novels.


The Windy Foot Series
Windy Foot at the County Fair
Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot
Maple Sugar for Windy Foot
Fireworks for Windy Foot

Bibliography (horse books only)

Windy Foot at the County Fair

Macgraw Hill, Whittlesey House, New York, 1947, 153 pp, illus Lee Townsend

“Toby Clark receives a Shetland pony named Windy Foot for his birthday, and trains him for the pony race at the County Fair. The Clarks make some lasting friends at the Fair. Toby becomes friends with Tish Burnham, whose father races harness horses at the Fair. The pony race includes friends, and a foe, Lem Strout, who causes trouble for Toby and Windy Foot.”

Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot

Whittlesey House, New York, 1948, 148 pp, illus Lee Townsend

“Tish and her father visit Toby and his family for Christmas vacation. Toby and Cliff, the hired hand, cut down an old sleigh to use with Toby’s Shetland pony, Windy Foot. The warmth and joy of a country Christmas is shown with bringing in the tree, making and buying presents, holiday cooking, and singing carols. There is also plenty of danger and excitement over the holidays, with a bear on the rampage, and a skiing accident where Toby’s quick thinking saves the day.”

Maple Sugar for Windy Foot

Whittlesey House, New York, 1950, 184 pp, illus Lee Townsend

“Maple sugaring season is a favourite for Toby and his Shetland pony, Windy Foot. Windy loves to eat snow that has the fresh syrup poured on it. Toby and his friends help tap the maples, and boil down the syrup, finishing it up with sugaring off on Saint Patrick’s Day. But after sugaring season
the spring rains came. The river rose and flooded the countryside. The Clarks and Cliff worked to save their animals and help their neighbours. They had to cancel their plans to visit the Burnhams, but Tish and her father managed to furnish a big surprise for a happy Easter.”

Fireworks for Windy Foot

Whittlesey House, New York, 1956, 176 pp, illus Lee Townsend

“School is out for the summer, and Toby is looking forward to a summer of fun with his Shetland pony, Windy Foot, and his palomino pony, Golden Hind II. The Clarks are taking part in the town’s gala Fourth of July parade, and Toby’s part in the pageant is almost spoiled by his reservations about his new acquaintance, Pietro DiMarco. Tish comes to visit for the celebration, and Toby makes an important discovery about what being an American really means.”