Esme Hamilton (1912 - 1988)

Irish/British author. Born in Gloucestershire in 1912, although soon after her birth moved to Ireland and there grew up in the family home of Hamwood House, Dunboyne, Co. Meath. During the war she served in the Auxilliary Territorial Service and achieved the rank of Captain. She enjoyed riding and regularly visited Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire in England, where she was a keen and highly regarded member of the Heythrop Hunt. There she hunted two horses: Samphire and Phoenix. In 1960 she moved to London.

Her writing career included a number of children's novels, all featuring horses and ponies. Three form a series about a mare called Speedy and her foals, and another is also linked to these in terms of the place setting. The books are all set in the author's beloved Ireland, although were published in the UK and USA.

Many thanks to the author's grand-son and son who provided most of the information.

Speedy Series:
Irish-set series which is partly pony viewpoint. Follows the adventures of Speedy and three of her foals, and the children who love them.

1) SPEEDY: THE STORY OF AN IRISH PONY
(BODLEY HEAD 1940)
ILLUSTRATED BY BARBRA MORAY WILLIAMS
Reprinted in hardback, then as a Knight Paperback.
Published in the USA by Barnes in 1959.
There was also a French edition published called
Speedy Poney.
EDITION PICTURED: Knight paperback
SUMMARY: Partly pony point of view story about Speedy, an Irish mare and her many adventures from the wilds of Connemara to her life as a riding pony and then a point-to-pointer.

2) RAINBOW AND SPEEDY
(BODLEY HEAD 1952)
ILLUSTRATED BY LIONEL EDWARDS
Published in the USA by Barnes in 1959.
EDITION PICTURED: First edition
SUMMARY: Speedy is now owned by Oonagh and has three offspring: Rainbow, Rocket and Seafire. When John comes to Moynish to study farming he falls in love with Oonagh and learns to ride Speedy.

3) CHILDREN AT MOYINISH
(BODLEY HEAD 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY MARGERY GILL
Published in the USA by Barnes in 1960.
EDITION PICTURED: First edition
SUMMARY: Later follow up to the Speedy story in which Oonagh and John now have twins: Patrick and Anne. The twins rescue an old mare and Speedy's son Seafire begins to run in steeplechases.

Collectors info:
Speedy is by far the easiest to find of these and was I think the only one to be reprinted as a paperback. The others are a lot harder to find, however prices are usually fairly reasonable.

Other Horse & Pony Books:

STARLIGHT
(BODLEY HEAD 1956)
ILLUSTRATED BY LILIAN BUCHANAN
Published in the USA by Barnes in 1960.
SUMMARY: Partly a pony-point-of-view story, partly human viewpoint. Johnnie enjoys teaching his friend Susan about the countryside and its animals. A little Black Icelandic pony called Starlight also arrives on the farm but is mistreated by Johnnie's elder brother.

THE HEAVENLY CARTHORSE
(BODLEY HEAD 1958)
ILLUSTRATED BY MARGERY GILL
Published in the USA by Barnes in 1958
SUMMARY: A pair of kids discover their Irish Draught carthorse Dan can jump and decide to enter the local hunter trials!
This is related to the Speedy series as it is also set at Moynish.

Collectors info:
Published in both the UK and USA. Oddly, the American editions are much more common than the British editions, and the first UK edition of Starlight in particular can be hard to find and expensive.