Monica Dickens Biography
Monica Dickens, great grand-daughter of writer Charles Dickens was born into an upper middle-class background in 1915 and grew up in a large Victorian house in London with the luxury of servants and a nanny. She enjoyed idyllic weekends riding her horses which were kept at her mother's cottage in oxford and would cry when the weekend was over, and she had to travel back to London leaving her horses behind.
Monica was a bit of a rebel at school, and was expelled from St. Pauls Girls School after throwing her gym tunic and school hat over Hammersmith Bridge into the Thames. After that incident she was sent to a finishing school in Paris, presented at court and then officially Out in the Season, where she attended dances, balls and tea at the Ritz. She never really settled into the debutantes’ lifestyle and decided she would go out and work for a living.
She found employment as cook and general hand in various large establishments, writing her first book One Pair of Hands in 1939 drawing from experience of working “down below stairs.” During the war she became a nurse and wrote One Pair of Feet. She went on to be a prolific writer of both adult and children’s books and wrote a regular column for Woman’s Own Magazine.
In 1962 Monica visited a Home of Rest for Horses in Elstree and was so moved by the plight of ill-treated horses she felt compelled to write Cobbler’s dream. The story centres on an old farm converted into stables in the early 20th century and run as a charity for old and worn-out working horses during the Industrial age. Nearly a hundred years later the farm, still a home for rest for horses, is managed by the Captain and he is helped by Uncle, Dora, Ronnie Stryker and Slugger Jones. Paul (who becomes Steve in the later books) rescues a chestnut pony called Cobblers’ Dream from a spoilt rich kid after she beats her pony with a whip, blinding him in one eye. He takes the pony to Follyfoot and ends up leaving his old job and staying at the farm.
Ten years after the book was written, horse-mad actor James Bolam brought Cobbler’s Dream to the attention of Yorkshire television. A suitable old farmhouse and outbuildings were found on the Harewood Estate, an old “Lightning Tree” cemented into the stable yard and the TV series Follyfoot was born. Monica wrote the next four Follyfoot books to coincide with the TV series and they are still popular today with a new generation enjoying the dramas at Follyfoot farm.
Monica continued to write until her death on Christmas Day 1992, aged 77
"When I can't ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble along with a bucket and wheelbarrow. When I can't hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out by the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them." - Monica Dickens
"No ride is ever the last one. No horse is ever the last one you will have. Somehow there will always be other horses, other places to ride them." - Monica Dickens
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