Joyce Stranger

Psuedonym of Joyce Muriel Wilson. Died very recently in 2007. Lived in Anglesey, Wales.

Trained as a biologist, specialising in animal behaviour, and tried her hand at dog training too. Not surprisingly, animal themes, especially relationships between human and animal feature in all of her books. She thought that the human-animal/human-nature relationship was extremely important and that a co-existence between the two could improve quality of life. She said "for many people an animal can provide a harmony lacking in day-to-day relationships with people."

Her books are not very anthropomorphic, deliberately so. She thought that many animal books, especially childrens were inaccurate or sentimental or humanised the animal and wanted her stories instead to "show how animals live in a world that is real to them"

They are definitely not sentimental either, many are quite downbeat. Disasters often strike her fictional worlds and her characters are often unhappy, guilt-stricken or remorseful. However they usually end on a more upbeat and optimistic note.

Ms. Stranger was one of the few authors to write horse stories aimed at adults. Most of her pony books are either adult or teenage stories.

Sadly her website has been removed from the internet.

Pony Books:

BREED OF GIANTS
(HAMMOND HAMMOND 1966)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: Josh Johnson is a farmer who also breeds Shire horses and, with almost fanatical devotion, brings them to championship status. But when his best horse is injured and an outbreak of foot and mouth disease strikes the area, it seems his dreams are falling apart…
An excellent adult novel of horses, the countryside and farming.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

ZARA
(HARVILL 1970)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: Richard Proud coveted the golden-brown mare from the moment he saw her. Although he couldn't afford Zara he bought her nevertheless, to breed him winners - foals that would restore the fortunes of the Yorkshire stud where he bred and trained racehorses.
Intelligent adult novel about the horse racing and breeding world, but also about families and relationships.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

THE WILD PONIES
(KAYE AND WARD 1976)
ILLUSTRATED BY ROBERT RUTHERO
Very rare.
Aimed at a younger readership than the other books.

KHAZAN THE HORSE THAT CAME OUT OF THE SEA
(COLLINS & HARVILL 1977)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: In all Debbie's bleak existance nothing had happened until the day the horse was washed up on the Cornish coast. The young girl saved his life and suddenly found her own miraculously transformed. She made new friends in her desperate plight to keep him. For Khazan captured everyone's imagination: a king amongst horses, born to race…
Great story aimed at teenagers upwards.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES

THE JANUARY QUEEN
(MICHAEL JOSEPH 1979)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: Kate is a spoiled and selfish twenty year old. She is supposed to be helping on her father's farm but through her carelessness causes a terrible and expensive accident. Her parents take drastic action to force her to grow up. They give her a tumbledown cottage on the farm and a few animals and tell her she has to fend for herself. At first Kate is devastated but then she helps save the life of a beautiful Shire horse mare called The January Queen. Old Joe the ex-farmer and breeder who thought he would lose the mare when forced to retire at the age of eighty, is overjoyed. A warm friendship develops between the pair and Joe helps her make something of the smallholding. But when disaster strikes will Kate show she is made of sterner stuff than before…
An excellent adult story of horses, animals and the problems of both growing up and growing old.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

THE STALLION
(MICHAEL JOSEPH 1981)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: When Rhea's husband dies her life changes and she finds herself turning once more to her first love: horses.
Adult horse novel.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

HOUND OF DARKNESS
(DENT 1983)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: When the wind howled at night in the Welsh village, villagers spoke of the legendary hound of darkness, Cafell, whose ghost haunted the mountains, guiding unwary travellers to safety. Raoul comes to the village, bringing with him an Arab mare and stallion. When floods attack the village Raoul's house becomes a sanctuary for the homeless villagers. Micky the gypsy boy who works for Raoul sets off with the stallion to get help...will Cafell protect them on their journey.

STRANGER THAN FICTION
(MICHAEL JOSEPH 1984)
Reprinted in paperback by Corgi.
SUMMARY: Fictionalised account of the true story of Elspeth (Elfie) Bryce-Smith, based on her diaries. Elfie was crippled by polio as a child but learned to walk and ride and eventually became a jockey. Amazingly, in a time when ladies were not allowed to ride in races, she masqueraded as a man to fulfill her ambitions!
A fascinating and unusual story for older teenagers and adults.
As an interesting aside, Joyce Stranger actually rode at the stables owned by Elfie in later life.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

THE HOUNDS OF HADES
(MICHAEL JOSEPH 1985)
As far as I know not reprinted in paperback.
SUMMARY: When Joel inherits a prosperous stud farm from the great uncle he has never met, he finds that things are not quite as they appear to be. His uncle had amassed a fortune in shady circumstances. Determined to unravel the mystery, Joel begins to read the old man's diaries. Will they tell him the truth behind his uncle's fortune and what are the mysterious Hounds of Hades his uncle constantly refers to?
An excellent story within a story as Joel reads the diaries of his uncle, a man embittered by the loss of his beloved horse and the farm his grandfather had promised him.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

MIDNIGHT MAGIC
(LIONS PB 1991)
Paperback original.
SUMMARY: Mandy has lost her nerve after falling from a horse. Then she moves to a new home and meets Kirstie, an old woman who owns a livery stable. After realizing that Mandy has seen the local ghost horse Midnight Magic, Kirstie and ex-jockey Luke who now owns the local pub, take her under their wing. With the help of a Shetland pony whom they rescue, and Kirstie's patient teaching, Mandy begins to regain her nerve and may even be allowed to ride the magnificent black Star…
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Apart from these pony books, horses also featured in some of Ms. Strangers 'Vets' series and one of the books in the 'House of Secrets' series, 'Georgie's Secret.'

Collectors Info:
Most of these were reprinted as paperbacks (Midnight Magic  was a paperback original) and are fairly easy to find. One or two, such as The Hounds of Hades and Hound of Darkness and some of the 'Vet' series titles are harder to find. The Wild Ponies is the rarest of the lot and not often seen.