Holland, Barbara

About the author

Barbara Holland (1933–2010) lived, when she wrote The Pony Problem, in a Pennsylvania town that is “a kind of children’s dream-world, where all girls have ponies” – including her own daughter, on whose experiences she based the book.  “My daughter’s pony was such a frightful pest, getting into the house, trampling the neighbors’ gardens, or vanishing for hours into the surrounding community, with me trotting along the roads afoot after her, carrot in one hand and clothesline in the other, that I felt I ought to get some good out of it all.”

Barbara Holland won prizes for her poetry when she was at school, but converted to prose when she had a living to earn. She wrote several books, over wide ranging fields: The Joy of Drinking, and Gentleman’s Blood: a History of Duelling being just two, besides of course her one pony book, The Pony Problem. She lived in Virginia. Two of her hobbies were smoking and drinking, there not being a lot else to get up to when you lived on a mountain. Her mother was a children’s book author (Marion Holland); her father a lawyer in FD Roosevelt’s administration, and she was brought up in Chevy Chase.

Finding the book
The Pony Problem is relatively easy to find in America. It didn’t have a British publication (as far as I know – there is mention of a Penguin edition, but I haven’t found any solid evidence of a copy from a British seller), but if anyone knows for definite that there is one, please let me know. From the ISBN quoted, I assume it’s a Puffin paperback, but a pretty obscure one if so.

Links and sources
New York Times’ obituary of Barbara Holland, 13 September 2010
Barbara Holland’s website (no longer extant)
An article in the Washington Post on Barbara Holland – which I do recommend you read as it gives an excellent idea of what Barbara Holland is like – quite something, it has to be said, and about as un-PC as possible.
Being 70 – the View From Up Here – an article by Barbara Holland (no longer extant)
Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau for all her help with the book and its contents.

Bibliography (horse books only)

The Pony Problem

E.P. Dutton, New York, 1977, cover art by Susan Jeffers
Scholastic, pb, 1977