The Princess and Princess Tina Pony Books were an offshoot of the Princess comic, published by Fleetway, part of the International Publishing Corporation . Princess comic ran from 1960-
The Princess Pony Books were landscape in format: the only pony annuals I know of that were. They had colour printing, which was unknown in the Pony Club Annual until the 1980s, and in Pony Magazine Annual until its re-
The majority of the stories were from pillars of literature: Charles Dickens (Mr Pickwick as a horseman), as well as selections from R L Stevenson, Lewis Carroll and Mark Twain. Young Lochinvar, by Sir Walter Scott, was one of the poems featured. Some contemporary authors contributed: Cecily Danby wrote three stories for the first album, (1962) with Anne Collins, Frances Olcott and Michael Bennett being the others.
My one abiding memory of the Princess Pony Books is of one of the crafts, which was joined to a story written by Anne Collins –
When I was about 12, a friend brought into school a copy of this annual, which was already something of a period piece to us then in the 1970s, together with a pony she had made out of felt. The world of Julip et al was a bit beyond us, so we were incredibly enthusiastic about making these ponies, and make them we did. My stepfather worked for a tannery, and used to bring offcuts home for me, so we had leather to make saddles and bridles from. We ran a gymkhana, for which I remember making cups out of DAS, a more permanent modelling material than plasticene.
I can’t imagine 12 year olds now making felt ponies and having gymkhanas. I can’t believe for a second they’d find it cool. My own daughter has this activity firmly filed in the file labelled “Odd things my mother did that I will NEVER EVER do.”
Most of the illustrators in the Pony Book weren’t credited, but Thelwell provided the endpapers; Geoffrey Whittam illustrated one story, and H M Brock provided a rather handsome colour plate. Sheila Rose and Mary Gernat provided illustrations too, though again uncredited.
The second Princess Pony Book followed the same format, with classic authors (Goldsmith and Kipling) though with more picture stories. The poems were The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes, and Jack and his Pony, Tom, by Hillaire Belloc.
The Princess Pony Book had a third issue, and then ceased publication until it became the Princess Tina Pony Book in 1967. The format changed from landscape to portrait, and the style was much more similar to that in the comic; far more graphic and with plenty of colour. The extracts from the classics had thereabouts ended, though there is a verse from Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The stories were no longer credited. The annuals didn’t, once they became the Princess Tina Pony Book, acknowledge who had written their short stories.
The Princess Tina Pony Book was published until 1981.
Sources and links
History of Fleetway from the Dan Dare site
The Princess Tina diary
More on Princess Tina from True Brit, a Celebration of the Great Comic Book Artists of the UK, George Khoury, Tomorrow’s Publishing, North Carolina, 2004