Lorna Hill (1902-1991)
Popular and collectable British author, best known for her ballet novels. She was born in Durham in 1902 and studied at Durham University, where she met her future husband, a clergyman. When married they moved to a remote village in Northumbria. Many of her books feature aspects of her life, including a vicarage lifestyle, a North-Eastern settting and ballet and ponies, which were interests of her daughter Vicki. Vicki even appears as a character in the 'Wells' ballet series. Ms. Hill's daughter was certainly hugely influential upon her mother's writing career, which was born when making up stories to tell to her daughter and school friends. Vicki also illustrated some of her mother's later books.
Ballet and ponies are the two main elements in the author's books and indeed overlap on many occaisions. Some of the 'Wells' and 'Dancing Peel' ballet series feature ponies, most notable the first in each series. Like K. M. Peyton, Lorna Hill seems to have favourite characters who make an appearance in many of her different series. In particular Guy, the hero of the Marjorie series, appears in both the 'Patience' and 'Wells' series and both Marjorie and Patience make brief appearances in some of the ballet books.
Lorna Hill wrote two main pony series which were of the holiday adventure type. The ponies are perhaps less important in these series than in the books of authors thought of as more traditionally 'pony book writers.' Although ponies and riding do feature in the books, they are not really the primary focus of the plot or themes of the stories.
Ms. Hill has become a collectable author. Although not reaching the monetary heights of some of Monica Edward's rarer novels, there are nevertheless a few titles which are very rare and may be expensive. None of the pony books are amongst the real rarities, but neither are they common either.
The writing standard of all the books is high and the characters are engaging. If you enjoy the pony books, you may also want to try the ballet books (particularly the ones where horses also feature) as they are appealing even to those like myself who have little interest in ballet. In fact I ironically prefer them to the horse-related titles which I don't think contain the depth or are as tightly plotted.
One aspect which may also jar in these modern times is the element of male chauvinism which seems to permeate many of these stories, with the character of Guy being the main culprit. In most of the books the various strong-willed girl characters are eventually bent to the will of the boys, who are almost always portrayed as being in the right and much more sensible. This is a shame, in a genre which generally empowers the female characters and sets them on an equal footing with the boys - and is perhaps the reason why I prefer the Lorna Hill ballet stories to the horsy ones.
There is an excellent link website which gives lots more information about Lorna Hill and her work including lists of all her books in series order and reviews of some of the books.