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My Life & Horses -
Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1966, 188pp. Illus John Verney
Crony Carruthers has left school without much in the way of qualifications, but plenty of enthusiasm about
horses. She therefore decides to try a life working with horses, and launches herself onto the horsy scene:
first working with a family stuffed with girls, and moving on until she ends up in the MFH’s stables.
Susan Chitty, born in 1929, is the daughter of the novelist Antonia White. She is married to Thomas Hinde, (Sir Thomas Willes Chitty) with whom she wrote The Great Donkey Walk, the story of a journey she and her family (their three children and their dog went too) made through Southern Europe to Salonica. The two donkeys were Hannibal, the pack donkey, and Hamilcar, who carried the two youngest children, Miranda and Jessica.
Susan Chitty, according to the dustjacket of The Diary of a Fashion Model, was well known as a fashion writer and television personality. She wrote three novels: The Diary of a Fashion Model, White Huntress and My Life & Horses. White Huntress is about the adventures of English debs in Africa; The Diary of a Fashion Model is about Mavis Bone, whisked from lacrosse to life as a model. My Life & Horses continues the theme of an upper class girl making her way in the world. Crony has few qualifications, but has that well known desire; she wants to work with horses.
My Life & Horses is certainly some way from the average pony novel where a girl works with horses: Janet Must Ride it is not. Janet was certainly never chased round the feed bins by a prospective employer. My Life & Horses is aimed at adults, but might provide a useful corrective for a teenager convinced she wants to work with horses.
The first chapter of the book appeared as a short story in the Pony Magazine Annual of 1965. In the annual, the title of the forthcoming book was given as Horse Struck, which strikes me as a better title than what it eventually became.
Susan Chitty (who thought she was a horse as a child) also edited The Puffin Book of Horses with Anne Parry, and has written a recently reprinted biography of Anna Sewell.
Finding the books:
My Life & Horses is not the easiest of books to track down, and is usually expensive. The Puffin Book of Horses is very easy to find.
Sources and Links:
Some information on her travel book, The Great Donkey Walk
Biographical information on Thomas Hinde and his family
Wikipedia on Antonia White
Diary of a Fashion Model
Methuen & Co, 1954
The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Good Taste [Ed]
MacGibbon & Kee, 1958
Methuen, & Co, 1963
Anna Sewell: the Woman Who Wrote Black Beauty
Hodder & Stoughton, 1971
The Beast and the Monk: A Life of Charles Kingsley
Hodder & Stoughton, 1974
Charles Kingsley’s Landscape
David and Charles, 1976
The Great Donkey Walk (with Thomas Hinde)
Hodder & Stoughton, 1977
Gwen John: 1976-
Hodder & Stoughton,1981
Now to My Mother -
Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1985
That Singular Person Called Lear
Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1988
Antonia White’s Diaries
Ed Susan Chitty, Constable, 1991
The Modern Household Encyclopaedia
The Puffin Book of Horses (with Anne Parry)
Kestrel Books, 1975, 364 pp. Hb
Puffin Books, 1975 pb.
How I Became a Girl Groom
(the first chapter of My Life & Horses)
Pony Magazine Annual, 1965, illustrated by Sally Webb