Jill Crewe, Black Boy and Rapide will ride again as the rights have been secured to republish Ruby Ferguson’s classic series of pony books.
Jane Badger, of Jane Badger Books which reissues old pony books, told H&H all nine Jill titles will be included — and she has herself written two follow-up books.
“I still can’t quite believe it,” she said, adding that her attempts to secure the rights had been ongoing for years. “I love all the books, and now I can get them out so other people can read them too. The reaction has been phenomenal, and I’m so pleased to be doing something people are so happy about.”
The books, first published between the late 1940s and early 1960s, take Jill from the age of 12 to 15, from an absolute novice to an experienced owner and competitor, with her ponies Black Boy and Rapide.
Jane said she loved all nine but the last book, Pony Jobs for Jill, later renamed Challenges for Jill, finished “quite unsatisfactorily”.
“All through the books she’d been planning this marvellous career with horses, then right at the end, when she’d finished school and done all sorts of pony jobs, Captain Cholly-Sawcutt says she’s got to give it all up and do a secretarial course, and when I first read it, I thought ‘oh’,” Jane said. “I think generations of people have thought the same at that point and we’ll never know why Ruby Ferguson wrote that. Maybe it was because her step-grandchildren were the ones who rode – she was never horsey at all – and she was warning them off a career with horses!
“I don’t know, but that’s why I wrote a follow-up.”
Jane added that in some later editions, changes were made to the text, but hers will be the original, with a very few small changes that “have to be made”.
“It really does feel like one of those golden dreams Jill had, imagining herself on some wonderful showjumper at the biggest and best shows,” she said. “I first read these books when I was about eight or nine, and I’ve loved them ever since.
“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’.”
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