Christine Pullein-Thompson

Christine Pullein-Thompson

1 Oct 1925 – 2 Dec 2005

Christine Pullein-Thompson wrote over a hundred books during her lifetime which have been translated into twelve languages. She was born on 1st October 1925 in Wimbledon. Her mother was Joanna Cannan, well known writer of her time, and her father was Captain HJ Pullein-Thompson. She was one of four – her brother is the playwright, Denis Cannan, Josephine her elder sister and Diana her twin. Christine grew up in Peppard, near Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire. Surrounded by animals, she started riding at seven and was educated at a variety of schools including Wychwood in Oxford until the age of 14 and then at home. While still in their teens, she and her sisters started writing and set up their own riding establishment. The Grove Riding School became a limited company with two schools and 42 horses. Christine and her sisters hunted with the Woodland Foxhounds and competed in jumping events. She and her sisters wrote their first book together, It Began with Picotee which was published in 1946. In  1948 Christine published her next book We Rode to the Sea and continued to write children’s books for the next 50 years.  In 1952 Christine spent a year working as a professional rider in Virginia, USA.

In 1954 Christine married Julian Popescu, BBC Radio Monitor and author. They had four children, Philip, Charlotte, Mark and Lucy. Still living in Oxfordshire Christine helped to launch two branches of Riding and Driving for the Disabled. She kept horses, dogs, cats and bantams and while bringing up her children who were all members of the Pony Club, she continued to write, producing at least one book a year.In the seventies Christine and Julian moved to Suffolk where they lived in a moated parsonage with horses, dogs and cats. Here she set up a Bridleways Groups and was Chairman of the Mellis Parish Council.Perhaps best know for her pony books such as Phantom Horse and I Rode A Winner Christine also wrote the highly successful Jessie series about a dog and many other books for younger readers. Her books have brought pleasure to millions, enchanting generations of horsey girls.  In the nineties Christine joined with her sisters to write their autobiography, FAIR GIRLS AND GREY HORSES – Memories of a Country Childhood which was published in 1996.They also featured in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2002 exhibition of children’s writers, Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter.

“The Pullein-Thompson literary canon is awe-inspiring. Many of their books have been in print for nearly 40 years enjoying success in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Poland. The World’s love affair with the English countryside has brought combined worldwide sales of eleven million books.  There are many pony tales: what has given the Pullein-Thompson books such enduring appeal to successive generations? Simply that they are timelessly well written: the language is straightforward, the plots exciting, the dialogue reads like real children’s voices. And in some unspoken way that children clearly recognise, the books are authentic: not convey belt story-lines set against a horsey background. The subtext is that being responsible for an animal is a morally good and educative process for a child – it is this, perhaps that gives the books their resonance.” Frances Donnelly, Harpers and Queen.

Christine Popescu, nee Pullein-Thompson died on 2nd December 2005.  Her husband died in February 2008.

They are survived by their four children Philip, Charlotte, Mark and Lucy.