Marjorie Mary Oliver and Eva Ducat
Marjorie Mary Oliver (1899–1976) and Eva Ducat (1878–1975) wrote some of the earliest pony books, with stories that focused on children and their adventures rather than telling the story from the pony’s point of view.
Eva and Marjorie themselves both had happy childhoods. Marjorie was brought up in London, and like her heroes and heroines, she escaped. She went
to live with an eccentric member of the Scrimgeour stockbroking family in railway carriages at Selsey, where they kept over a hundred Dartmoor ponies. She then moved to live with another Scrimgeour sister in an Elizabethan house at Midhurst, with yet more Dartmoors. Every year, just like the children in Ponies and Caravans, they would travel down to Chagford in a horse-drawn vehicle to buy still more Dartmoors, which Marjorie would break in.
Marjorie’s co-writer, Eva Ducat, was born in 1878. She was passionately fond of music, and her musical expertise was well enough known for the poet W B Yeats to appoint her as his unofficial musical advisor in 1919. Eva and Marjorie knew each other through Eva’s friendship with Marjorie’s mother, Gertrude. Eva’s godson, Richard Oliver, writes:
“Marjorie was twenty years younger than Eva, but loved horses almost as much as Eva loved music. So the partnership worked, as Eva’s practised writing skill helped to illuminate Marjorie’s large equestrian know-how.”
Picture credit: the estate of Marjorie Mary Oliver
Picture credit: Richard Oliver