For this Australia Day Blog Hop post I’d like to celebrate the work of Elyne Mitchell – a quintessentially Australian author, and my earliest and best-loved writing inspiration. My second novel Brumby’s Run was influenced by her work, and being shortlisted for the Elyne Mitchell Rural Writing Award was one of my greatest thrills. The Silver Brumby series is ostensibly for children, but many adults like myself still adore them. These stories are filled with drama, magical prose and a deep, abiding love for the glorious upper Murray region where Elyne lived for most of her life.
‘These mountains … are symbols of high adventure, of an ineffable beauty. My feeling for them has grown and grown, until they possess me and have written themselves into my heart.’ Elyne Mitchell
Nobody who has read her books could doubt this for a second. There is something utterly compelling about her writing. It draws you into a vast, wild landscape and loses you there. Here is a short excerpt from Silver Brumby’s Daughter. There are shades of Dylan Thomas in its evocative, lilting prose.
‘Kunama could feel the darkness coming as though it were something alive, something she could touch, a voice she could hear. Up the darkness crept, whispering from the gullies, the clefts, the gorges. It seemed to slide up the Valentine hills, seep like a tide round the corner into their valley, lap at the horses’ legs, enfold them, whispering, and at last only the sky held light, and the mountains and ridges were dark against it.’
Elyne herself was the archetypal rural woman and a real hero of mine. Apart from being a gifted writer, Elyne was also a wife, mother, station owner, accomplished horsewoman, stockhorse breeder, naturalist and champion skier. She faced and survived many disasters – including the death of one of her children. Elyne wrote twenty-four novels and nine non-fiction books, many of which foreshadowed the rise of the environmental movement. She was a woman far ahead of her time. No wonder Australians everywhere have taken her tales of the high country straight to their hearts.
For a chance to win a copy of my latest novel, Currawong Creek, just leave a comment telling me an Australian book you enjoyed when you were young. Entries close midnight on January 28th. (Aust and NZ entries only) Winners will be announced on Feb 2nd. Click here to visit other Australia Day Blog Hop participants, and for the chance to win more great prizes.
I love the Silver Brumby books, and I still keep them on my shelf. (Although they’re packed at the moment as we’re between homes). Elynne Mitchell was a woman before her time, I agree.
Great post Jennifer. I loved the Narnia books when I was little, and on the horse side of things The Black Stallion, and ‘Fury’.
Thanks Lily. Oh yes, ‘Fury’. Loved that too.
I loved the Silver Brumby Series (I brought the anniversary editions which have been released) I also loved February Dragon by Colin Thiel and also the Harp in the South Trilogy by Ruth Park which I read every year in High School
Would love to have the anniversary editions!
I grew up on my mother’s old Norah of Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce, though in some ways they haven’t dated all that well! I also loved Brian Caswell’s work growing up, and still do, as well as Playing Beattie Bow by Ruth Park.
Thanks for the comment Catherine. I also loved those Mary Grant Bruce books!
Thanks for the comment Catherine. I also loved those Mary Grant Bruce books!
The Silver Brumby books – loved them. I have long lost the originals, but bought new ones some years ago. The first three were the best – maybe it’s time to go back and re-read. Other books when I was young – I had many and treasured each one. I still have a very few – ‘The Black Loch’ by Patricia Leitch. It has been carefully inscribed with my full name and the year – seems so long ago now. The local newsagent had books, mostly covered with orange cellophane for some reason, most of them 4 shillings, which was good as my weekly pocket money was also 4 shillings.
Yes I agree Marj, the first three or four were the best.
The October Child Eleanor Spence
Thanks for the comment Dale.
I remember the Silver Brumby books well, Jennifer, but I have to admit, Seven Little Australian’s has a big place in my heart as well 🙂
Oh yes, of course. Seven Little Australians is wonderful!
I loved the whole Seven Little Australian’s triology. I swear I read them in a cycle. As soon as I’d finish one, I’d pick up the next, and the next and then the next. Only to start the whole process again. I still reread them every so often. Great books.
That’s three votes for Seven Little Australians!
I loved the Silver Brumby books when I was a kid I still have them all too nearly 40 years later. Picnic at Hanging Rock was a book I read in year 8 that I loved, so much in fact that I named my eldest daughter Miranda.
Miranda is such a beautiful name!
Like yourself and many others who have replied I loved The Silver Brumby books. In primary school I loved Ruth Park’s The Muddleheaded Wombat. As a teen I was a big fan of John Marsden’s Tomorrow When The War Began series I made my whole family read them and we eagerly awaited release of the next book.
Ah yes, my daughter also loved the John Marsden Tomorrow When The War Began books.
I loved horse and mystery books as a child. My daughter is right into Silver Brumby books as well. Black Stalllion and lots of other horsey and animal books. She used her money from a Reading competition to buy Silver Brumby Cententary edition and has , I have read your Currawong Creek book, Brumby Run (this was such an enjoyable but emotional book) and Bells’s run. I hadn’t read any of your books until I saw Currawong Creek on the shelves. My daughter also reads your books over my shoulder which is annoying and good at the same time. Have a great Australia day
Oh wow, Heather, so lovely to know kids are still reading The Silver Brumby! And thanks for reading my books! Have a great Australia Day.
Please don’t enter me in the giveaway. I own, have read and LOVED Currawong Creek! ~just wanted to say that 🙂 Happy Australia Day, cheers!
Thank you so much Tien! It means a lot to hear that from you 🙂 Happy Australia Day to you too!
When I was young I loved Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books, they were just so adorable! Thanks so much for the giveaway. I haven’t read Currawong Creek but it sounds very interesting and I would love to win a copy. Happy Australia Day 🙂
You can’t get much cuter than gumnut babies! Thanks for your thoughts …
I loved Mem Fox’s books, especially Possum Magic
Ah yes – Possum Magic. That’s one that hasn’t been mentioned yet!
Have read and enjoyed Brumby’s Run and Currawong Creek. Wish I had something on my bookshelf at the moment, that I could read on Australia day, and feel as back in the bush ,as I did when reading them.(I think I will read them again)! 🙂
I’m so glad you have enjoyed my books! Thank you Gloria. My new one Billabong Bend will be out in May. It’s a star-crossed love story between a cotton grower, a floodplains grazier and a river.
Mem Fox was always popular in my house when my son was little (I don’t remember reading Oz fiction as a kid) and as he grew older, John Marsden became the man!
That’s two votes each now for Mem Fox and John Marsden!
You know I never read the Silver Brumby series. It’s one of those that I never got around to reading. On my ‘Aussie Authors to read’ list. I was reminded during this blog hop of the great book ‘Playing Beatie Bow’ by Ruth Park. Mem Fox came a little later but I have really enjoyed sharing her work with the god-kids.
Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele — couldn’t get enough of the rural antics and my Mum loved it too which was a bonus.
I haven’t read that one Christy. Must have a look for it!
Snuggle pot and cuddle pie were a favourite when I was little.
SEVEN LITTLE AUSTRALIANS by Ethel Turner was a great favourite of mine & I was pleased that my daughter enjoyed it too.
Yes, Seven Little Australians seems to be a popular choice!
There were a few books I read when I was younger… I like others loved the John Marsden Tomorrow When the War Began series, Puberty Blues was another one I throughly enjoyed. I absolutely love the Silver Brumby series, but anything with a horse in a book was always my goal when I was younger I use to search the op shops for all books, one I discovered was called Flashback by Gillian Rubinstein and I actually have kept every ‘horse’ book I brought in my childhood….
Me too! I’ve got shelves of old horsey books. Can’t bear to give them up.
I’ve been horse mad all my life, so I loved the Silver Brumby books, too. Another favourite was Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs – I read that over and over! I also loved all of Colin Thiele’s books, especially Jodie’s Journey.
So glad to hear that so many people loved the Silver Brumby books. May Gibbs is getting lots of votes. First for Colin Thiele. This is fun!
Hi Jennifer. I loved Lucy Walker’s romance books. I know they aren’t children’s books, as many of the above mentioned, but in the 1970s, Lucy Walker’s Australian outback romance books were so good. I wonder if anyone else remembers them?
No, I don’t know those books. Will keep an eye out for them 🙂
I adored Playing Beattie Bow. I read it over and over again…
Two votes now for Beattie Bow!
Another horse fan here, Jennifer. I loved the Silver Brumby, and I still have a copy of Black Beauty (although I know not Australian) that my Aunty gave me when I was about 8.
My parents also gave me an A.B Patterson collection, “Dusty” by Frank Dalby Davison and “My Brilliant Career” by Miles Franklin. I also loved Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and I couldn’t go past Blinky Bill. I even had Blinky Bill curtains!!!
I am amazed as I look back, at the Australian books that I have collected over the years – both for myself and for my children.
My daughter loves The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden, and my son is currently reading The Brotherband Series by John Flanagan.
Thanks for a great post, another enjoyable stop on the Australia Day blog hop, and a generous prize offer.
Of course, Frank Dalby Davison! What a wonderful writer. Like Elyne Mitchell, giving animals a voice when it wasn’t fashionable to do so (maybe it has never been fashionable!) I loved Dusty, and also Manshy, an extraordinarily moving novel about a wild scrubber cow. Thanks for your thoughts.
Have never read Manshy, Jennifer. May have to go on a treasure hunt at the library or local book sellers.
Thanks for the tip.