Diana Pullein-Thompson

Along with her two sisters and mother (Joanna Cannan) Diana forms part of the most famous pony book writing dynasty of all time. She and her sisters, twin Christine (both born in 1925) and elder sister, Josephine, wrote a pony book together when still in their teens. From then on the rest, as they say, was history. The girls' knowledge and experience of ponies - they ran their own riding school - shines through in their books.

Diana's books are similar in style to that of her twin, although not quite as dark in tone, and they also tend to feature a variety of other animals from dogs to cats to donkeys.

Diana's technique is perhaps a little more innovative than her sisters. For example she explored the multiple first-person narrative in
A Pony For Sale and A Pony To School and also the novella form in Horses at Home/Friends Must Part. However Diana frankly admits her books were aimed at a popular rather than literary market, and that she was writing them "for young people, not for book buying parents or critics"

Character is all important in Diana's books. Linda Yeatman in 20th Century Children's Books writes, "the children in the stories are involved with ponies and riding but it is the personal misfortunes of the children that carry the reader along." Characters such as Augusta and Christina in
I Wanted a Pony and Three Ponies and Shannan, Lesley in Riding With the Lyntons, Lynn in the Ponyseekers trilogy and Katie in Cassidy in Danger are the driving force in the plots of these books, the action arising from their personalities. Diana nearly always gives the reader a fairly deep look into the psyche of her heroines and heroes, making them very easy to identify with. This, I think, is what gives her books such lasting appeal.

Diana's personal favourites amongst her own books are
Cassidy in Danger and Ponies in Peril.

(Sources: 20th Century Children's Authors 3rd edition)

Augusta and Christina Series:
One of the best-loved pony series by this author. Told via two different girls' points of view

PONYMAD SERIES RATING: 5 HORSESHOES

1) I WANTED A PONY
(COLLINS 1946)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 8)
Reprinted in paperback by Fontana and Armada
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Armada paperback editions, Collins Pony Library edition
SUMMARY: 'Written' by Augusta. Tells the story of how she finds the pony of her dreams while staying with her awful cousins. But he turns out to have a terrible vice...will Augusta have to part with him forever?
Read review

2) THREE PONIES AND SHANNAN
(COLLINS 1947)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 26)
Reprinted in hardback by White Lion.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Armada paperback editions, Collins Pony Library edition
SUMMARY: 'Written' by Christina. Because she is rich and has 3 ponies Christina is despised by the local horsy children until she goes to a pony club camp and meets Augusta.
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3) A PONY TO SCHOOL
(COLLINS 1950)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
As far as I am aware not reprinted in hardback, various paperback editions were published by Armada.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Armada paperback editions
SUMMARY: 'Written' by both girls. The girls must cure the beautiful skewbald pony Clown of rearing in order to save his life.
Read Review

4) ONLY A PONY
(ARMADA PB 1980)
First edition was a paperback.
Reprinted as a hardback by Severn House.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback)
SUMMARY: 'Written' by Augusta. The two girls end up alone whilst Augusta's mother is in hospital having a baby and their au pair disappears to find her boyfriend. The girls then get mixed up with a runaway boy and  his pony Rainbow.

Collectors Info:
First editions of the first three are rare and quite valuable. Only A Pony was a paperback original and so is a lot easier to find and less expensive than the hardback firsts. The first two in series were also reprinted as hardbacks as part of the Collins Pony Library. Shannan seems fairly easy to find in this edition although I Wanted A Pony is rarely seen. The White Lion edition of Shannan is one of the least seen of all the various editions.
Paperbacks are all easy to come by and cheap in both the UK and USA

Sandy and Fergus Series:

1) PONIES IN THE VALLEY
(ARMADA PB 1976)
First edition was paperback
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House
Reprinted in paperback by Armada
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback), Severn House edition
SUMMARY: Sandy and Fergus arrive in their new home in Wales, befriend Jake the owner of a local trekking centre and acquire their first pony Mimosa.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

2) PONIES ON THE TRAIL
(ARMADA  PB 1978)
First edition was paperback
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House
EDITION PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback)
SUMMARY: The children find more excitement than they bargained for as they accompany Jake on a trek.
PONYMAD RATING: 2-3 HORSESHOES

3) PONIES IN PERIL
(ARMADA PB 1979)
First edition was paperback
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback), Severn House edition
SUMMARY: The children manage to raise enough money to save six ponies which were going for slaughter. But if they can't train them and find good homes for them, the fate of the ponies may still be in the balance!
PONYMAD VIEW: The last in the series can sometimes fall a bit flat, but in this case it's the best of the lot. It is the most tightly plotted of the three and eschews adventure, for what is to my mind a much more interesting portrayal of training young ponies. I actually read this one before the other two and you certainly don't lose anything by not reading them first as it stands alone very well. Traditional pony book fare at its very best.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
First editions were paperbacks. Slightly harder to find than many of the author's paperbacks on auction sites such as eBay but easy to find on internet bookshops. The Severn House hardbacks are a bit harder to find.

Ponyseekers/Candy Series:
A more original than normal series in that it's theme is horse dealing, not seen that often in pony books, except perhaps in the cliched portrayal of the 'dodgy dealer.' This series looks at the dealing life itself, mainly through the eyes of the teenage Lynn. It also has an interesting adult character. A good series, although the last is inferior to the other two.

1) THE PONY SEEKERS
(SPARROW PB 1981)
Paperback first edition
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House
EDITION PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback)
SUMMARY: After losing her horse in a tragic accident Briony starts up a dealers agency with her brother and sister, David and Lynne. Disaster strikes as an epidemic sweeps the stables. Lynn forms a close bond with a mare called Candy whilst nursing her but it seems as if the agency is doomed to failure.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

2) A FOAL FOR CANDY
(SPARROW PB 1981)
Paperback first edition
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback), Severn House edition
SUMMARY: Excitement for Lynn as she discovers Candy is going to have a foal. The agency is also doing better but if Briony cannot find new stabling then Candy will have to be sold.
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES

3) A PONY FOUND
(SPARROW PB 1983)
Paperback first edition.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House.
EDITION PICTURED: 1st edition (paperback), Severn House edition
SUMMARY: The agency's fate now lies with the success of Briony's new pupil Mirabelle - but has she the talent and courage needed to succeed?
PONYMAD RATING: 2-3 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Slightly harder to find than many of the author's paperbacks on auction sites, but easy to find on internet bookshops. Hardback reprints are rarer than the paperback first editions.

Black Beauty's Family/Clan Series:
A series of historical pony novels following in the hoofprints of Black Beauty. The novels are set from the horse's point of view and are the life stories of a number of Black Beauty's relatives. The stories were written by all 3 of the Pullein-Thompson sisters and I have included this section on each of their web-pages.

1) BLACK BEAUTY'S CLAN
(BROCKHAMPTON 1975)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Includes: 
BLACK VELVET  (by Christine)
BLACK PRINCESS (by Diana)
BLACK EBONY (by Josephine)

First published as a hardback volume containing the above three stories. Reprinted as a paperback omnibus by Red Fox in 2000 when it was confusingly re-titled BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY (See 'other editions' section below)
The 3 stories were also published separately as paperbacks by Knight.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Knight paperback single editions

2) BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1978)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Includes:
BLACK NIGHTSHADE (by Josephine)
BLACK ROMANY (by Diana)
BLOSSOM (by Christine)

First published as a hardback volume containing the above three stories. Reprinted by Red Fox in 2001 as MORE FROM BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY (See below)
Black Nightshade was I think the only one of these stories to be published separately as a paperback by Knight.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, Knight paperback of Black Nightshade

3) BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY 2
(BEAVER 1982)
Includes:
BLACK RAVEN AND THE WITCH (by Josephine)
BLACK PIPER (by Diana)
BLACK PIONEER (by Christine)

First edition was a paperback. Shorter than the other omnibus editions: the three stories are novella size rather than full length novels and were never published as separate editions.

Other Editions:

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY 1
(BEAVER 1981)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
SUMMARY: Paperback containing: Black Romany and Blossom

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(RED FOX PB 2000)
SUMMARY: Paperback reprint of Black Beauty's Clan containing Ebony, Princess and Velvet.

MORE FROM BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(RED FOX PB 2001)
SUMMARY: Paperback reprint of Black Beauty's Family, containing: Black Nightshade, Romany and Blossom

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(CHANCELLOR PRESS )
SUMMARY: A large hardback omnibus edition with pictorial boards. Contains Velvet, Princess, Ebony, Nightshade, Romany, Blossom.

Collectors Info: 
Although none of the books are particularly rare, this is an extremely confusing series to collect as there were several omnibus editions with similar names and many of the reprints were also re-named.
They were first published in omnibus form, each volume containing 3 stories, making a total of  9 separate stories. Some of the books (see above for which ones) were also published as single volume paperbacks. The first 6 stories appeared in a number of different omnibuses, although the last three were not reprinted at all and are only available in Black Beauty's Family 2.  Please consult the above list to make sure you don't buy duplicates!

Other Pony Books:

IT BEGAN WITH PICOTEE
(Written with her sisters)
(A & C BLACK 1946)
ILLUSTRATED BY ROSEMARY ROBERTSON
Early collaboration by all three sisters, written when they were just teenagers. I don't think this was ever reprinted which would account for its rarity.
Rare and valuable, especially with jacket.
EDITION PICTURED:  1st edition
PONYMAD RATING: 2 HORSESHOES

THE PENNYFIELDS
(COLLINS 1949)
Reprinted as an Armada paperback.
The paperback edition is a lot easier to find than the first edition.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Armada paperback
SUMMARY: Less pony content than other books on this page. A large family of kids start up an odd job agency in order to save up for a pony. Humourous.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

A PONY FOR SALE
(COLLINS 1951)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback in the Collins Seagull Library series.
Reprinted as part of the Collins Pony Library series (number 24)
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
A very easy book to find in some form as many editions were printed. All but the first edition are fairly common.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Collins Seagull edition, Armada paperback, Collins Pony Library edition, newer Armada paperback
SUMMARY: The story of a pony's life written by four different owners, some good, some bad.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES
Read review

JANET MUST RIDE
(COLLINS 1953)
ILLUSTRATED BY MARY GERNATT
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
First edition is hard to find and valuable. Paperback is common.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Armada paperbacks
SUMMARY: The story of janet as she takes up her first job with horses. Janet knows she can ride well and wants to be more than just a groom, but can she ever achieve her goal?
PONYMAD VIEW: Aimed at a slightly older readership than most of the author's other books as Janet has left school and is working. One of the better of the 'career' horse stories. See full review for more.
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES
Read review

HORSES AT HOME/FRIENDS MUST PART
(COLLINS 1954)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library series (number 7) and in paperback by Armada.
Only the first edition is really hard to find.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, 1960s Armada paperback, Collins Pony Library edition, newer Armada paperback
SUMMARY: Consists of two short novels. In one a pair of children look after their aunt's horses while she is ill. In the second story two horsy friends fall apart, can their ponies bring them back together again?
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES/4 HORSESHOES

RIDING WITH THE LYNTONS
(COLLINS 1956)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted as a hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 9). Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
An easy book to find as many editions printed. Even the first edition seems easier to find than firsts of Diana's other books.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Armada paperback, Collins Pony Library edition
SUMMARY: Excellent, although controversial story about a girl who loses her friendship with a group of children through a tragic accident. Perhaps the most controversial book we have discussed in our reading circle! (see below)
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion on the book by chat forum reading circle

THE BOY AND THE DONKEY
aka THE DONKEY RACE (Paperback edition)
(COLLINS 1958)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHIRLEY HUGHES
Reprinted in paperback as THE DONKEY RACE by Armada in 1970.
Quite a hard book to find, even the paperback edition. The first edition is very rarely seen.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Armada paperback
SUMMARY: Unusual 'pony' story about a boy who trains a Rag and Bone man's donkey to try and win the local Donkey Derby!
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES
Read review

THE HERMIT'S HORSE
(ARMADA 1974)
First edition was paperback.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House.
Paperback seen far more often than the hardback reprint.
EDITION PICTURED:  1st edition (paperback)
SUMMARY: Slightly dark story about a friendship between two children and a strange old man and his horse.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

CASSIDY IN DANGER
aka THIS PONY IS DANGEROUS
(DENT 1979)
Reprinted in paperback by Armada
Republished as THIS PONY IS DANGEROUS by J. A. Allen paperbacks.
All editions are fairly easy to find.
EDITIONS PICTURED:  1st edition, Armada paperback, J. A. Allen paperback
SUMMARY: A girl determines to save a beautiful pony from slaughter with the help of an unlikely ally.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

THE LONG RIDE HOME
(CAVALIER PB 1996)
Paperback first edition.
Not reprinted as far as I know.
EDITION PICTURED:  1st edition (paperback)
SUMMARY: A young girl sets off on a horseback journey from Scotland to Yorkshire in order to escape from frightening goings on at her home whilst her parents are away.
PONYMAD RATING: 2 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
All reprinted as paperbacks, some many times, and most of these are very easy to fairly easy to find. It Began with Picotee is the only real hard to find title. First editions of some of the older titles however can be rare and more expensive. At the time of writing The Long Ride Home is still in print and available from the Cavalier Paperbacks website.

Short Story Collections:

TRUE HORSE AND PONY STORIES
(Edited by)
(ARMADA PB 1976)
SUMMARY: Collection of real life stories by Diana and other authors.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

THE PULLEIN-THOMPSON TREASURY OF HORSE AND PONY STORIES
(With Diana and Josephine)
(AWARD 1995)
ILLUSTRATED BY ERIC ROWE
A large hardback edition. Contains many pony stories which were first published in pony annuals plus many more.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Both are fairly easy to find in the UK and cheap. Can also be found in the USA without too much trouble.

Short stories in other books & collections:

NEARLY AN EXPERT
in PONY STORIES (selected by Ian Woodward)
(CORGI PB 1983)
SUMMARY OF STORY: A prideful young lady who thinks she knows more about horses than all those around her finds herself in the wrong.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES
More information on the British Short Story Collections page

Collectors Info:
Fairly easy to find and cheap.

Books about the author:

FAIR GIRLS AND GREY HORSES
(With Diana and Josephine)

(ALLISON & BUSBY 1996)
Reprinted in paperback.
SUMMARY: Joint autobiography of the three Pullein-Thompson sisters. Written with Diana and Josephine. Suitable for adults or older children.

Collectors Info:
Although not common, can be found reasonably easily on the internet.