INTRODUCTION

Full details on individual titles may be seen by selecting the titles listed on the left.

CHILDREN'S NOVELS

Of the 35 books which Monica Edwards wrote between 1947 and 1976, twenty-eight are children's novels and all but two of these form two series.

The first book, Wish For A Pony introduced the main characters of what was to become a series based around Rye and the Romney Marshes. In essence a 'pony book' it had a quality of reality both in the settings and in the characters which later became so characteristic of the author's work. It was illustrated by Anne Bullen, who also painted the dust-wrapper. Although her pen and ink illustrations appear somewhat cardboard, she catches the summer light of the wide Marshland sky very well.

The first edition has red blocking and a vignette of a pony on the pale green front board. The colour of boards and use of a vignette, now in gold, were continued for the next two titles, No Mistaking Corker (1947) and The Summer of the Great Secret (1948).

Collins reprinted the latter title some years later in their Crown Library series. The book bears the publication date of 1948 and, without the wrapper, has been mistaken for a first edition. Wish For a Pony and The Midnight Horse were also produced in Crown Library editions. They were so-called, I believe, because they were issued for sale for a 'crown' (five shillings [25p]).

The front board vignette was dropped for the next book The Midnight Horse which was the last to be illustrated by Anne Bullen. This was the book which introduced boys as main characters, according to the author at the behest of the publishers, who had realised that these were adventure books with wider appeal than foreseen by the author. This is therefore the book which introduces the strong character Meryon and his less exotic friend Roger, an introduction which was to provide much useful material for sensitive exploration as a relationship develops between the former and Tamzin, and changes as they grow older.

The artist chosen for The White Riders (1950) was Geoffrey Whittam. He was to illustrate many more. The dust-wrapper, of ghostly white riders galloping across the front of Camber Castle under a night sky, is superb; and when Puffin produced their edition in 1956, he delivered a beautiful version of the same scene as a wrap-around cover.
The next book, Black Hunting Whip, was written, and first published, as a serial in the Collins Magazine, with illustrations by Geoffrey Whittam. Later the story was adjusted for publication as a book. It moves back to the author's second book: No Mistaking Corker, and joins the Thornton family as they move into an old farmhouse in Surrey. This was Punchbowl Farm, bought by the Edwards and renovated as described in this book and later in The Unsought Farm. So began the second series.

In Punchbowl Midnight, published in 1951, and illustrated by Charles Tunnicliffe the author brought the main character from the Romney Marsh series into the Punchbowl Farm setting. Although most of the books keep to their separate locations several link in part, and in The Outsider (1961) the main characters from both series all gather at Punchbowl Farm.

From 1952 to 1954 Joan Wanklyn illustrated the three Punchbowl Farm books, while Geoffrey Whittam continued with the Sussex series, after which he was the sole illustrator for the books of both series. In all he illustrated eighteen. Both Wanklyn and Whittam used genuine locations for their pictures.

In 1967 the last Punchbowl Farm book appeared. The Wild One centered around the appearance in the Devil's Punchbowl of a wild cat, and involved the farm characters and Rissa and Roger from Sussex.

It was followed, two years later by the last children's book, A Wind is Blowing, which brought the Romney Marsh series to a close and is the only series book not illustrated. It has a most disappointing dustwrapper. It demonstrates the artist's, or perhaps the designer's, lack of familiarity with the book and with the scenery of the marshes.

Reprints of the first two books were given the same boards and include a reprint history. From The Summer of the Great Secret the reprint pattern becomes confused.
Several of the titles were reissued in a six shilling edition. These were very much straight reprints in the same cloth as the firsts, but in the size 190x130mm, smaller than most of the first editions. On the rear of the title page they were labelled This Edition 19**.
The earlier and later first editions are all c200x135mm whereas the four books published between 1953 and 1955 are the same size as the six shilling editions (190x130mm)(7.5 x 5 inches).
Collins appear to have preferred to reissue their books in new 'library' editions, and hence the Crown Library, Collins Seagull Library, the Collins Pony Library, the Evergreen Library, the Laurel and Gold series; the Children's Press and no doubt others.

There is some doubt in the case of several reprints as to whether they were issued as six shilling or Crown Library editions.

Wish For a Pony was released as a Children's Press edition with a new dust-wrapper by an uncredited artist and later with pictorial boards by Geoffrey Whittam. No Mistaking Corker and The Summer of the Great Secret were republished in Collins Seagull Library editions; in the latter case one edition having a colour frontispiece which appears to be unique to that edition.

Both Wish for a Pony and The Summer of the Great Secret were issued in the small Laurel and Gold pocket-sized hardbacks.

Half the titles were also issued in Children's Book Club editions. These have the same illustrations and five use the same dust-wrapper pictures as the original editions.

The Collins Evergreen Library editions of No Going Back, Hidden in a Dream and Fire in the Punchbowl are very attractive quality books with the original illustrations, but rather disappointing wrappers.

The first of the books to appear in paperback was Cargo Of Horses; published as a Junior Fontana Paperback in 1955. The following year Scottie paperbacks issued Black Hunting Whip with an imaginative cover showing Lindsey and Dion in apparent middle age! This was the same year as The White Riders appeared in Puffin, being joined by Storm Ahead in 1957.

Sixteen of the books were brought out in paperback by Armada in the 1960s, all with at least some of the original illustrations but new cover pictures. In the 1970s four were issued in the Collins Pony Library, hardbacks with pictorial covers, and three were issued as New Portway hardbacks with dustwrappers.

The publisher John Goodchild published nine of the titles in the mid-1980s. None but Hidden in a Dream are illustrated but some have the map end-papers. These are new editions, sensitively 'un-dated' by the author, and all have new dustwappers by Gordon King, some based on the original dustwapper designs.

Monica Edwards wrote two other young people's novels which are not part of these series. Killer Dog, illustrated by Sheila Rose is based on her story for the film Dawn Killer. It tells the story of sheep worrying on the Romney Marshes by an apparently rogue sheepdog. The story was serialised in The Children's Newspaper and reprinted in several editions. The New Portway edition bears an horrific dustwrapper illustration.

Under The Rose, illustrated by John Kennedy, is a story about a group of youngsters from a different and more modern background, involved in an incident with a missing racehorse, and a difficult problem of divided loyalties.

In the mid-1950s she also wrote two 'career' books as part of a series for Bodley Head; Joan Goes Farming and Rennie Goes Riding. These were both reprinted, the latter also in paperback as late as 1979.

Short stories appear in various collections and annuals, some for younger readers than her books; at least two were published in The Collins Magazine, which became the Young Elizabethan in 1953.
BBC Radio Children's Hour broadcast several of the short stories and a serialisation of No Entry. Two of her autobiographical books of life on Punch Bowl Farm were serialised on daytime radio for adult listeners.

NON-FICTION

The popularity of the Punchbowl Farm series may have been the stimulus for the first non-fiction book she wrote in 1954. This is The Unsought Farm, which recounts the purchase of Punch Bowl Farm and the first few years of the family's life there.

The Cats of Punchbowl Farm followed ten years later. This tells of the main cat characters in a background of farm and family life.
The Badgers of Punchbowl Farm (1966) was concerned with the author's experiences with the badgers in the wild valley on their land.
The Valley and the Farm (1971) continued the autobiographical celebration of the farm and the wild land abutting it, and also the end of their time in the farm.
Badger Valley (1976) is the last of these semi-autobiographical books and brings the story of the badgers in the Wild Valley up to date.

All were originally published by Michael Joseph; and are illustrated with photographs, the majority of which were taken by the author. The Valley and The Farm was serialised in 1971 in the magazine Woman's Realm.

All except Cats were reprinted in Book Club editions; in the case of The Badgers of Punchbowl Farm with a reduction in the number of photographs. The last two were also issued in paperback, The Valley and the Farm without its photographs.

In the mid-1990s The Unsought Farm and The Cats of Punchbowl Farm were reissued by Isis Books as large print editions. Sadly, but understandably, neither is illustrated by the original photographs.

The small publishers Girls Gone By started to reissue all the Romney Marsh series, and the Punchbowl Farm books in 2005. These are paperbacks, using the full text of the first editions and have the original maps and illustrations. They also have added articles about the locations, background material and publishing history for the title. The first fifteen also have introductions by Shelley Edwards, Monica's daughter and the 'original' of Tamzin and Lindsey.
(More details of the progress of republishing her work is on the publisher's page - see the Index.)


Note: for more information, see the Sources page.


This page is part of the Monica Edwards Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.
Created by John Allsup
Created on 7 Aug 2000
Updated and corrected Feb 2015