Anna Campbell

September 2009



Like a lot of writers (as I’ve discovered over the years), I’m inclined to be slightly obsessive about my enthusiasms. This was a character trait I developed very early in my life. I can’t speak for the cradle but I’m sure by the time I was toddling, I knew what I liked and I wanted more of it. And then even more! In hindsight, it makes me very sorry for my parents!

One of my obsessions as a primary school girl was horses. This is nothing unusual. Lots of little girls love horses. Some big girls even love horses although most of us grow out of it. I think my next obsession after the horses was romance fiction and that one definitely stuck.

My conversation was really boring for anyone who didn’t enjoy sentences that went, “Hey, I packed my school lunch and did you see that pretty horse over there?” Strangely that covered a lot of the world and particularly my family.

So I fed my obsession with books about horses.

Fortunately, because so many little girls go through the horse and pony stage, I had plenty of choice. I don’t think there’s quite such a selection of saltwater crocodile or llama literature for young girls!

My bookshelves were groaning under equine volumes. My library, both shire council and school, supplied more. Which was good because I was a quick reader and – did I tell you? – slightly obsessive. I wanted my horse books and I wanted them now.

I’d read anything relating to horses. Showjumping books. Gymkhana books. Cowboy books. Wild horse books. If it had four legs, hooves, a mane and a tail, I was in there like Flynn.

I remember reading Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty under the bedcovers after my light was out. My parents told me all this reading in the dark would ruin my eyes. Well, that came true! I remember crying like a loon when poor Beauty staggered to his knees drawing the Hansom cab. Oh, man, that broke my poor little eight-year-old heart!

In this post, I’ve put up covers for a few favorites and what memories they bring back. A lot of my favorites are still on the bookcase in my bedroom. Actually something I notice about my beloved horse books is that they’re nearly all weepies. I’ve got the Wyoming trilogy by Mary O’Hara. I’ve got a whole stack of Marguerite Henry. I particularly loved King of The Wind although it was such a sad story. The Godolphin Arabian had a really tough life! And of course, there’s the Australian classics, the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. Fantastic reads!