Lyons, Dorothy

About the author

Dorothy Lyons graduated from the University of Michigan, and worked for the American Red Cross before writing full time, and breeding Connemara ponies. She is one of those authors whom you are surprised no American publisher has thought of re-issuing. Dorothy Lyons received greater critical acclaim for her works during the 1940s and 1950s, but all her works are sought after. Like Marguerite Henry, she covered many different disciplines, but unlike her, the disciplines she covered weren’t ones that would necessarily read easily elsewhere. Several of her books are about equine events which simply don’t happen in the UK. Harlequin Hullabaloo, for example, is about Saddlebred five-gaited showing. The practice of breaking a horse’s tail, which is part of preparing a Saddlebred for showing, means this book is controversial, and would be highly unlikely to read well in the UK, where docking, the only thing nearly equivalent, has been illegal for years. All her other books, though, such as Bright Wampum, which is about stock and rodeo, are much more accessible, and well worth seeking out.

This is not particularly easy for the UK reader. Only two of her books had UK publications, and they were about racing (Copper Kahn) and Western Pleasure (Golden Sovereign).

Finding the books
Unfortunately for the collector, many of her books are difficult and expensive to find, with the Wesley Dennis illustrated editions often more expensive than the first editions. Most of her titles only ever made one appearance and even as ex-library editions, are very, very hard to source. Some titles (Dark Sunshine, Blue Smoke and Golden Sovereign) did appear in paperback, and are therefore easy to find, as are the two Famous Horse printings. The British printings (Copper Khan and Golden Sovereign) are very difficult indeed to find.

Links and sources
There is some information on Dorothy Lyons here, with biographical information and cover shots.
Dustjackets of the books
Terri A Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibilography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau for all her help with this section.


Connie McGuire series
Silver Birch
Midnight Moon
Golden Sovereign
Copper Kahn

Java Jive
Smoke Rings


Silver Birch

Harcourt, 1939, illus John Austin Taylor
Harcourt, date unknown, cover W C Nims, illus. John Austin Taylor
Harcourt, 1947, cover Wesley Dennis, illus. John Austin Taylor

When Connie and her friends form a mounted Girl Scout troop, Connie decides to tame a wild white mare rather than ride her father’s plough horse.

Midnight Moon

Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1941, illus W C Nims
Harcourt,1960, cover Wesley Dennis, illus W C Nims

Connie bets that she will be good enough to win first or second place in a horse show within a year. It’s a potentially costly bet; she could lose her mare Silver Birch if she loses.

Golden Sovereign

Harcourt, Brace & Co, 1946, illus Wesley Dennis, reprinted 1960
Scholastic Book Services, paperback, 1963, 1968
Museum Press, London, 1949, illus Wesley Dennis

Connie has her hands full training the son of Silver Birch, developing her stables, and tracking down the background of a mistreated mare she’s just bought.

Red Embers

Harcourt, Brace, 1948, illus Wesley Dennis

A horse van breaks down near the Rancho San Felipe, which means Phil and her friends now have four proper opponents to play polo with.

Harlequin Hullabaloo

Harcourt, Brace, 1949, illus Wesley Dennis
Republished as Bluegrass Champion
Grosset & Dunlap, Famous Horse series, 1949, illus Wesley Dennis

Hullabaloo is not the conventional colour for a Saddlebred, and Judy has trouble getting him judged as the good horse he is, rather than as a skewbald oddity.

Copper Kahn

Harcourt, Brace, 1950, illus Wesley Dennis
Museum Press, London, 1952

Connie buys a Thoroughbred stallion with a broken cannon bone, and hopes that she will be able to get him racing again.

Dark Sunshine

Harcourt, Brace & World, 1951, illus Wesley Dennis
Grosset & Dunlap, illus Wesley Dennis

Blythe needs to ride so that she can strengthen her weak leg, but she doesn’t
want to ride; that is, until she finds a wild mare who has become trapped.

Blue Smoke

Harcourt, Brace, 1953, illus Wesley Dennis
Reprinted as trade paperback

Pop, the first boarder at Andy’s ranch, dies. He said he would leave his blue roan Quarter Horse to Andy, but he’s only said it, not written it down. Andy hopes the horse is never claimed by Pop’s family.

Java Jive

Harcourt, Brace, 1955, illus Wesley Dennis

Ginny hopes to catch a horse in her corral: she catches a Morgan called Sugar several times, and then the Morgan’s owner allows Ginny to board the mare. The mare produces a foal, which Ginny is allowed to keep.

Bright Wampum

Harcourt, Brace, 1958, illus Wesley Dennis, 190 pp.

Merry and her family ranch sit for an absentee owner and Merry decides she will break in some of the ranch’s Appaloosa horses.

Smoke Rings

Harcourt Brace, 1960

Ginny rescues a man on a runaway horse from being hit by a train. The man gives the runaway to Ginny, who sees an Olympic prospect in her.

Pedigree Unknown

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973, cover Herb Steinberg

Jill’s fiancé is a terrible snob, but she finds solace in a horse.

The Devil Made the Small Town

Kimberley Press, 1983