Ponies, ponies, ponies


American  Horse Books Home

Paul Brown

Paul Brown is probably the most sought after American equine illustrator; books illustrated by him regularly reach substantial prices, dwarfing what his English contemporaries can achieve.

Paul Desmond Brown (1893 - 1958) was born in Minnesota. As a child, he filled sketchbooks with pencil drawings of horses. One of his teachers at the High School of Commerce described him thus: “no dreamy, sad eyed exotic type was he.... Just a plain, healthy American lad.. He had something very definite to say, and a very clear manner of saying it.” At 18, he left the school to start his own commercial art business. He worked steadily until the outbreak of World War I, when he served with the First Light Infantry Division. He finished the war at the front near St Mihiel in France, and escaped death by a hair’s breadth when a grenade missed him as he turned his head. He married Sallie Smith Brown in 1923, and they had three children. As Paul Brown’s success continued, he was often away from his family drawing equestrian events at first hand.

After the war, Paul Brown set up as Black and White by Brown, continuing to do commercial illustration. He became a fixture at polo matches, helping to launch Polo magazine in 1927. Biscotti calls him “the first artist to accurately portray the polo pony in action”; it is perhaps fairer to call him the first American artist to do so. The English artist Gilbert Holiday, whom Guy Paget thought the most successful artist to tackle polo, was active at the same time. In the 1930s, Brown began to illustrate for Brooks Brothers. it was a successful arrangement on both sides. Brown said of his relationship with the firm: “we’ve never had an unpleasant word.” Winthrop H Brooks, Chairman of the Board of Brooks Brothers Inc thought Brown superb at horses and dogs; good at men but “we keep him away from women pretty much -- his women are not so hot, though he can do an occasional tweedy girl, or one in jodphurs.” It was during the 1930s that Paul Brown started to illustrate books; which he soon recognised as an excellent source of regular income. He wrote and illustrated 19 children’s books, 13 other books, and illustrated over 100 books by other authors.

He retains an immense appeal. Robin Bledsoe explained his attraction thus: “Know your subject. Make every stroke tell a story or express a feeling. Show extremes of action in taut lines and diagonals. Balance the masses and spaces in your composition. Be spontaneous. Never copy.” But perhaps most important of all was Brown’s love of life, which still radiates through his drawings.

Finding the books: it would not be either an easy or a cheap task to collect all of the books that Paul Brown wrote and illustrated. Some ex-library titles can be picked up fairly reasonably, but many titles, particularly in good condition, are very expensive indeed.

Links and sources

M L Biscotti & Robin Bledsoe: Paul Brown: Master of Equine Art, Derrydale Press, Lanham & New York, 2001

A few examples of Paul Brown’s art

Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987

Guy Paget: Sporting Pictures of England, London, 1945

Stella Walker: British Sporting Art in the Twentieth Century, The Sportsman’s Press, 1989

Many thanks to all the people who sent me photographs: Susan Bourgeau, Alison McCallum, Sarah, Lisa Catz

Bud and Lynn

Pony Farm

Pony School

Perkins Family

Crazy Quilt

Piper’s Pony

3 Rings

Circus School

Mick and Mack

Piper’s Pony, the Story of Patchwork

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1935, 120 pp

This is the story of Piper and his Shetland pony Patchwork, whose birthday is on

Christmas Day.

Horse Books written and illustrated by Paul Brown

Crazy Quilt, Circus Pony

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1934, 120 pp

Reprinted several times

Crazy Quilt and Oscar are ponies who perform in the circus. They are taken to their owner’s
farm for a holiday so that they can spend some time with Peter and Pam.

War Paint, an Indian Pony

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1936, 96 pp

War Paint is born on the range, and grows up to be a proud stallion; when Grey Eagle catches
the colt and tames him, he becomes a fine war pony.

Hi Guy, the Cinderella Horse
Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1944, 62 pp

A true story: Hi Guy is rescued from a pound and brought back to health, when he competes
(and wins) at Madison Square Gardens. Robin was an aged horse, abandoned when his
owner moved away. When the starving horse was found, he was taken to the pound. Just
before he was to be destroyed, a man bought the horse for $5, took him home, and his family
set to work to restore the horse. Robin is renamed Hi Guy, and goes from rags to riches when
his talent for jumping is discovered.

Puff Ball

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1942, 32 pp

As Sparkie and Puffball

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1954, 32 pp

Sparkie Parker lives on a farm, but he dreams of ranches and cowboys and Indians. One day
he gets the chance to go to a real ranch, and there he meets Puff Ball, a pony with his own
opinions on everything.

Merrylegs, the Rocking Pony

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1946, 64 pp

Merrylegs is a rocking horse who has a very tough time at the hands of his spoiled owners.
They whip him, cut off his tail, and break one of his glass eyes. Once they lose interest in him,
he is sent to a toy repair shop, where he is made better than new. His next home is with Billy,
who gives him the loving home he deserves. Then Merrylegs breaks both front legs. Having
believed that Merrylegs can be mended, Billy comes home from town to find two wonderful

Circus School

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1946, 64 pp

This is one of the Perkins family books: not a story as such, but an alphabet book.

Pony School

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1950, 96 pp

A young reader: the further adventures of Bud and Lynn. Their boastful cousin, Skinny, comes for a
visit, and while there, he learns many things, one of which is good sportsmanship.

Pony Farm

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1948, 96 pp

A young reader:  Bud and Lynn live next door to a Pony Farm, with ponies and Dalmatians.
They ride, help train the ponies, and watch the foals, Half n Half, and The Pest grow up. When
the ponies get loose, they help to rescue Half n Half, after he falls into an excavation hole.

Silver Heels

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1951, 128 pp

The story of a part Welsh pony who was a natural jumper, and felt it was his duty to join every
fox hunt. When the hounds gave tongue, there was no keeping Silver Heels in his pasture or
stall. The Laird family takes advantage of his jumping ability, hunting and competing with the
Pony Club.

Daffy Taffy

Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York,1955, 32 pp

A young reader: the story of a Welsh pony colt who gets himself into some very silly situations.

Books about Paul Brown

M L Biscotti & Robin Bledsoe: Paul Brown - Master of Equine Art
Derrydale Press, Lanham & New York, 2001