The Jill books ride again

One of the questions I get asked quite often as a publisher of classic pony books is, ‘Why aren’t the Jill books available?’

The last time the Jill books were in print was when Fidra managed to license the rights in the 2010s, and printed the first few of the series. And there it stopped, as they weren’t able to license the remaining titles.

Ruby Ferguson actually sold the rights of the whole series to her publishers, Hodder, in the 1960s. This is, and was, quite unusual, but I believe it was done for tax reasons as Ruby and her husband moved to Jersey.

I have been trying for years to find out if Hodder still owned the copyrights, and it has taken until now to do so. I had got absolutely nowhere until I’d started my own publishing business, and was in fairly regular contact with people in the industry to clear copyrights and license permissions. It occurred to me that one of them might well be worth asking about the Jill rights, as their company was part of the same group as Hodder.

I asked, expecting to get the usual neutral answer, but no, the request was passed on, and I had a response. It then took Hachette (who are the parent group) a lot of searching to check that they did indeed have the copyrights. All credit to them, because this was all going on during lockdown when many publishing people were working from home, but they did manage to track down the information.

So far, so good, and the request was then passed to the editing team.

They weren’t keen to license the books as they felt they wouldn’t sit well as part of what they were now responsible for.

That was a bit of a blow, but then I thought well, I have edited over 40 texts now, and I’m very used to doing the updating that is necessary to remove things you really can’t say now. In fact, authors’ estates often ask me specifically to do this. I am more than prepared to do any editing that is required for the Jill texts (and for those who are saying what? What could there possibly be? there are a couple of words which are really going to have to change). If Hachette don’t want them as part of their lists, then perhaps, I thought, they’d be prepared to sell them.

I really did think nothing ventured, nothing gained. They can only say ‘no’, I thought, and at least then we’ll have an answer.

But they said ‘yes’.

It’s taken a while to iron everything out, but the contracts have been signed, and I’ve now bought the copyrights and am the official owner of the Jill books.

The illustrations are proving rather more complicated, but I’m hoping to get there in the end.

And so the Jill books will start to be available again from 2022. They’ll all be available as eBooks, in the usual Jane Badger Books format. They’ll be available on Amazon and Kobo.

They will also be available as paperbacks, with illustrations in some form. Hardbacks are another thing we’re considering.

Huge thanks to Hachette UK for agreeing to sell the copyrights so they can live again. It was a massive amount of work for them to track down all the information they needed, and I am hugely grateful.

And I still can’t quite believe it. It really does feel like one of those golden dreams Jill had, imagining herself on some wonderful show jumper at the biggest and best shows. I first read these books when I was about eight or nine, and I’ve loved them ever since. They were part of my dreams. Jill was sparky, independent, and she competed with everyone else on her own terms – on equal terms. And she was funny. And imperfect. And human. To (thereabouts) quote Jill, in Jill’s Gymkhana:

… quite honestly if anyone had told me three years ago that anything so terrific as buying the Jill books would ever be associated with my name I should have thought them completely mad. Yet such was to be my destiny.

40 Thoughts on The Jill books ride again

  1. This is the most wonderful news! I also read these books from about the age of eight or nine & of course loved them. When I was 10 I was lucky enough to get a horse (a 4yo, 15hh, just broken Irish Cob – highly suitable for a slightly nervous child who had only ridden riding school ponies). Kiwi (as he became) was black with a small white star & socks on both hind legs. I was bitterly disappointed, however, when my mum vetoed my first choice of name, which was of course, Black Boy! At the time I couldn’t see anything wrong with giving him that name. Aahh – happy days.

    I hadn’t thought about it until now but wasn’t Ruby Ferguson ahead of her time to write a series of books with a heroine like Jill?

    Reply
    • I think Jill was unique, because she lived life so much on her own terms. She’s quite like Joanna Cannan’s Jean, in some ways (I also publish two of those if you fancy a compare and contrast), but Jill had more of a struggle in life than Jean.

      Reply
  2. Hooray and huzzah!! I have a very beat up set in paperback that somehow made it to the US, but I’d love to have a nicer set (especially if the illustrations can be worked out).

    Have you considered expanding into books by obscure American authors (Dorothy Lyons and Lynn Hall, for example)?

    Reply
    • Well, I would love to expand into American authors! I need though to research copyright law and how it would work and what the tax implications would be. But definitely something to consider.

      Reply
  3. Let me know when I can buy them and remind me of the book names at that time!

    Reply
    • Don’t worry, I will! There will be news here, on my social media, and on my newsletter. The first one out will be Jill’s Gymkhana, which you can pre-order now on Amazon.

      Reply
  4. So looking forward to reading these again.

    Reply
  5. The books and their illustrations look like old classical books… would love to see them in hardcover but paperbacks
    Will be fine.. if the illustrations are a part!

    Reply
  6. Absolutely brilliant. This is going to be fabulous for an entire new generation of sweet little girls who dream of horses, ponies and beautiful daffodil fields. Kudos to you for your perseverance. Can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Reply
  7. This is very good news 😁👌

    Reply
  8. I sometimes wonder if these books made me the person I am now, they certainly had some sort of formative effect on my horse crazy, independent nature! Absolutely delighted that you will bring them back to life for my grand-children! Congratulations and wishing you the very best of luck! Jill.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much. I think you’re right – there are many of us for whom Jill was formative.

      Reply
  9. Fantastic, these are lovely books and fill a need for today

    Reply
  10. These books totally passed me by… but as a 64yr old I’m still looking forward to reading them! X

    Reply
  11. I am very glad to hear this! I didn’t read the Jill books at a younger age so I don’t have nostalgia for them, but the more books I read about horses the more I enjoy them, so I would like to have the chance to read these someday.

    Reply
  12. Reading this made me cry. It is like a Jill story! A wonderful dream come true! Some of us hold Jill very dear to our heart and I can’t wait to hear about it. Please keep me posted

    Reply
    • Of course – there will be news here, and on my social media, as well as on my newsletter if you subscribe to that.

      Reply
  13. How fantastic

    Reply
  14. Fabulous! I am so excited to be able to read them again…..and so mystified as to the few words that needed to change!

    Reply
  15. This is very good news. I have massive regret about not keeping my pony book collection….I suppose when you are 14 you don’t realise they might not be easy to come by in the future! Looking forward to seeing them again 🙂

    Reply
  16. Fab-U-Lous! I adored the Jill books and passed them onto my daughter, who also adored them. But when she grew up I sent them to a charity shop and she’s never forgiven me. I will be able to make up for it now!

    Reply
  17. For someone like me, who grew up on “Jill” and other similar books, I am so thrilled about this. It’s not really for my own sake as I have been faithful to Jill for many years but more for the sake of up and coming generations that they will have the opportunity to read the real Jill books. Children’s literature these days is full of celebrities and things supernatural. I hope the new generations (and some of us oldies) will enjoy reading the books and the traditional values they contain.

    Reply
  18. I read all of the Jill books as a child & totally love them. Would buy them all in paperback and love to read them again 💕🦄

    Reply
  19. Please, please, please! Publish some pretty hardback versions.

    There are an awful lot of us middle aged horsey women, with a tiny bit of disposable income left, after the horses have eaten most of it. We will buy them in droves!

    These were my favourite books as a horse mad 12/13 year old, back in the day.

    Reply
  20. I’m so happy to hear this!! I will be able to order them to Canada right?

    Reply

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Heather Hall Riding School

10th November 2021

40 Thoughts on The Jill books ride again

  1. This is the most wonderful news! I also read these books from about the age of eight or nine & of course loved them. When I was 10 I was lucky enough to get a horse (a 4yo, 15hh, just broken Irish Cob – highly suitable for a slightly nervous child who had only ridden riding school ponies). Kiwi (as he became) was black with a small white star & socks on both hind legs. I was bitterly disappointed, however, when my mum vetoed my first choice of name, which was of course, Black Boy! At the time I couldn’t see anything wrong with giving him that name. Aahh – happy days.

    I hadn’t thought about it until now but wasn’t Ruby Ferguson ahead of her time to write a series of books with a heroine like Jill?

    Reply
    • I think Jill was unique, because she lived life so much on her own terms. She’s quite like Joanna Cannan’s Jean, in some ways (I also publish two of those if you fancy a compare and contrast), but Jill had more of a struggle in life than Jean.

      Reply
  2. Hooray and huzzah!! I have a very beat up set in paperback that somehow made it to the US, but I’d love to have a nicer set (especially if the illustrations can be worked out).

    Have you considered expanding into books by obscure American authors (Dorothy Lyons and Lynn Hall, for example)?

    Reply
    • Well, I would love to expand into American authors! I need though to research copyright law and how it would work and what the tax implications would be. But definitely something to consider.

      Reply
  3. Let me know when I can buy them and remind me of the book names at that time!

    Reply
    • Don’t worry, I will! There will be news here, on my social media, and on my newsletter. The first one out will be Jill’s Gymkhana, which you can pre-order now on Amazon.

      Reply
  4. So looking forward to reading these again.

    Reply
  5. The books and their illustrations look like old classical books… would love to see them in hardcover but paperbacks
    Will be fine.. if the illustrations are a part!

    Reply
  6. Absolutely brilliant. This is going to be fabulous for an entire new generation of sweet little girls who dream of horses, ponies and beautiful daffodil fields. Kudos to you for your perseverance. Can’t wait to see the outcome.

    Reply
  7. This is very good news 😁👌

    Reply
  8. I sometimes wonder if these books made me the person I am now, they certainly had some sort of formative effect on my horse crazy, independent nature! Absolutely delighted that you will bring them back to life for my grand-children! Congratulations and wishing you the very best of luck! Jill.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much. I think you’re right – there are many of us for whom Jill was formative.

      Reply
  9. Fantastic, these are lovely books and fill a need for today

    Reply
  10. These books totally passed me by… but as a 64yr old I’m still looking forward to reading them! X

    Reply
  11. I am very glad to hear this! I didn’t read the Jill books at a younger age so I don’t have nostalgia for them, but the more books I read about horses the more I enjoy them, so I would like to have the chance to read these someday.

    Reply
  12. Reading this made me cry. It is like a Jill story! A wonderful dream come true! Some of us hold Jill very dear to our heart and I can’t wait to hear about it. Please keep me posted

    Reply
    • Of course – there will be news here, and on my social media, as well as on my newsletter if you subscribe to that.

      Reply
  13. How fantastic

    Reply
  14. Fabulous! I am so excited to be able to read them again…..and so mystified as to the few words that needed to change!

    Reply
  15. This is very good news. I have massive regret about not keeping my pony book collection….I suppose when you are 14 you don’t realise they might not be easy to come by in the future! Looking forward to seeing them again 🙂

    Reply
  16. Fab-U-Lous! I adored the Jill books and passed them onto my daughter, who also adored them. But when she grew up I sent them to a charity shop and she’s never forgiven me. I will be able to make up for it now!

    Reply
  17. For someone like me, who grew up on “Jill” and other similar books, I am so thrilled about this. It’s not really for my own sake as I have been faithful to Jill for many years but more for the sake of up and coming generations that they will have the opportunity to read the real Jill books. Children’s literature these days is full of celebrities and things supernatural. I hope the new generations (and some of us oldies) will enjoy reading the books and the traditional values they contain.

    Reply
  18. I read all of the Jill books as a child & totally love them. Would buy them all in paperback and love to read them again 💕🦄

    Reply
  19. Please, please, please! Publish some pretty hardback versions.

    There are an awful lot of us middle aged horsey women, with a tiny bit of disposable income left, after the horses have eaten most of it. We will buy them in droves!

    These were my favourite books as a horse mad 12/13 year old, back in the day.

    Reply
  20. I’m so happy to hear this!! I will be able to order them to Canada right?

    Reply

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