K. M. Peyton

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Kathleen Wendy Herald Peyton MBE (born 2 August 1929), who writes primarily as K. M. Peyton, is a British author of fiction for children and young adults.

She has written more than fifty novels including the much loved "Flambards" series of stories about the Russell family which spanned the period before and after the First World War, for which she won both the 1969 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association[1] and the 1970 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, judged by a panel of British children's writers.[2][3][a] In 1979 the Flambards trilogy was adapted by Yorkshire Television[3] as a 13-part TV series, Flambards, starring Christine McKenna as the heroine Christina Parsons.


Kathleen Herald was born in Birmingham, began writing when she was nine, and was first published when she was fifteen, she "never decided to become a writer ... [she] just was one."[4] Growing up in London where she could not have a horse she was obsessed with them: all her early books are about girls who have ponies.[when?] After school, she went to Kingston Art School, then Manchester Art School. There she met another student, Mike Peyton, an ex-serviceman who had been a military artist and prisoner of war, he shared her love of walking in the Pennines.[5] They married when she was twenty-one and went travelling around Europe.

When they returned to Britain, Peyton completed a teaching diploma. However, after the birth of her second daughter, she turned to writing full-time:[when?] mostly boys' adventure stories that she sold as serials to The Scout, magazine of The Scout Association, and later published in full.[6] She began writing as 'K. M. Peyton' at this time; 'M' represented her husband Mike who helped create the plots.[6]

The Peytons loved sailing, and her first books[when?] were on that subject; soon, however, she returned to her 'first love', horses, and began to write what became the Flambards series.[7] When Peyton became involved with horse racing, she used those experiences as further inspiration for writing.

Fidra Books has reissued Fly-By-Night and its sequel, The Team (Ruth Hollis series). Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and David Fickling Books also publish her work.

Writers who cite K M Peyton as an influence include Linda Newbery, whose young adult novel The Damage Done (2001, Scholastic) is dedicated "to Kathleen Peyton, who made me want to try".

Flambards was published in Italian, German, Finnish, and Swedish-language editions during the 1970s. WorldCat lists eight other languages of publication for her works in all.[8]


Peyton won the Guardian Prize for the Flambards trilogy, exceptionally, and won the Carnegie Medal for its second book,[a] she was also a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal six times in eight years during the 1960s. One of the books was the first Flambards book, another was the third Flambards book in competition with the Medal-winning second; the others were Windfall (1962), The Maplin Bird (1964), The Plan for Birdmarsh (1965), and Thunder in the Sky (1966).[3][9][b]

Peyton was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to children's literature.[10]


The Flambards trilogy was adapted by Yorkshire Television in 1978 as a TV series comprising 13 episodes[11] broadcast 1979 in the UK, 1980 in the US: Flambards, starring Christine McKenna as the heroine Christina Parsons.

The Right-Hand Man (1977), a historical novel featuring an English stagecoach driver, was adapted as a feature film shot in Australia during 1985 and released there in 1987.

Who, Sir? Me, Sir? (1985) was adapted as a BBC TV series.[11]


The bibliography of Peyton's "pony books only" by Jane Badger Books includes all nineteen series books and many "other books" (‡) listed here.[12]


Peyton's extension of the trilogy followed its television adaptation and reversed the original ending.

Ruth Hollis[edit]

  • Fly-by-Night (1968), self-illustrated
  • The Team (1975), self-ill.


The Pennington series continues the story of Ruth Hollis.

  • Pennington's Seventeenth Summer (1970), later as Pennington's Last Term, self-ill.
  • The Beethoven Medal (1971), a.k.a. If I Ever Marry, self-ill.
  • Pennington's Heir (1973), self-ill.
  • Marion's Angels (1979), later as Falling Angels, ill. Robert Mickelwright

Jonathan Meredith[edit]

  • Prove Yourself a Hero (1977)
  • A Midsummer Night's Death (1978)
  • The Last Ditch (1984), also published as Free Rein

See also the Ruth Hollis series: Jonathan Meredith is a minor character in The Team.[13]


  • The Swallow Tale (1995)
  • Swallow Summer (1996)
  • Swallow the Star (1997)


Set in Roman Britain.[12]

  • Minna's Quest (2007)
  • No Turning Back (2008)
  • Far From Home (2009)

Other books[edit]

  • Grey Star, the Story of a Racehorse — at age nine, unpublished §
  • Sabre: The Horse from the Sea (A & C Black, 1948) ‡, as Kathleen Herald, illus. Lionel Edwards
  • The Mandrake: A Pony (Black, 1949) ‡, as Kathleen Herald, ill. Edwards
  • Crab the Roan (Black, 1953) ‡, as Kathleen Herald, ill. Peter Biegel
  • North to Adventure (1959)
  • Stormcock Meets Trouble (1961)
  • The Hard Way Home (1962)
  • Windfall (1962), ill. Victor Ambrus; US title, Sea Fever
  • Brownsea Silver (1964)
  • The Maplin Bird (1964), ill. Ambrus
  • The Plan for Birdsmarsh (1965), ill. Ambrus
  • Thunder in the Sky (1966), ill. Ambrus
  • A Pattern of Roses (1972), self-ill. ‡
  • The Right-Hand Man (1977) ‡, ill. Ambrus
  • Dear Fred (1981) ‡ — based on Fred Archer
  • Going Home (1982)
  • Who, Sir? Me, Sir? (1983) ‡
  • The Last Ditch (1984) ‡
  • Froggett's Revenge (1985)
  • The Sound of Distant Cheering (1986) ‡
  • Downhill All the Way (1988)
  • Plain Jack (1988) ‡
  • Darkling (1989) ‡
  • Skylark (1989)
  • No Roses Round the Door (1990) ‡
  • Poor Badger (1990) ‡
  • The Boy Who Wasn't There (1992)
  • Late to Smile (1992) ‡
  • Apple Won't Jump (1992)
  • The Wild Boy and Queen Moon (1993) ‡
  • Snowfall (1994)
  • Mr Brown (1995)
  • Unquiet Spirits (1997)
  • The Pony That Went to Sea (1997) ‡
  • Windy Webley (1997) ‡, ill. Nick Price – picture book
  • Danger Offshore (1998)
  • Firehead (1998)
  • The Paradise Pony (1999) ‡
  • The Scruffy Pony (1999) ‡
  • Blind Beauty (1999) ‡
  • The Pied Piper (1999)
  • Horses (2000) ‡ – nonfiction [14]
  • Stealaway (2001) ‡
  • Pony in the Dark (2001) ‡
  • Small Gains (2003) ‡
  • My Alice (2004)
  • Greater Gains (2005) ‡
  • Blue Skies and Gunfire (2006)
  • Paradise House (2011) ‡
  • All That Glitters (2014) ‡

§ By age fifteen, Kathleen Herald had written "about ten more" novels that publishers rejected with "very nice letters".[5]

‡ Jane Badger Books lists these titles among Peyton's "pony books only" – as well as all nineteen series books listed above.[12]


  1. ^ a b The Guardian Prize is a once-in-a-lifetime award; previous winners are ineligible. Ordinarily it recognises one fiction book published during the preceding calendar year; exceptionally Peyton won for the Flambards trilogy completed in 1969.[2][3] For that publication year, the trilogy's second book won the Carnegie Medal and its third book was a commended runner-up.[1][9] Six authors not quite including Peyton have won the Carnegie Medal for their Guardian Prize-winning books.
  2. ^ Today there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners up through 2002 were Commended (from 1954) or Highly Commended (from 1966); the Highly Commended distinction became approximately annual in 1979. There were about 160 commendations of both kinds in 49 years including six for 1962, four 1964, six 1965, four 1966 (one highly commended), four 1967, and three 1969.


  1. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 1969). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". guardian.co.uk 12 March 2001. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Awards". K. M. Peyton: Author. K. M. Peyton. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  4. ^ Peyton, i.
  5. ^ a b Peyton, "Welcome".
  6. ^ a b Peyton, iii.
  7. ^ Peyton, iv.
  8. ^ "Peyton, K. M.". WorldCat. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  10. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 17.
  11. ^ a b "Peyton K M". Jan Pye. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. April 2003. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
    For LIS 304, Library Materials for Young Adults. Includes a "List of all K.M. Peyton's Young Adult Books", brief biography, secondary bibliography, and capsules of some books.
  12. ^ a b c "K M Peyton (1929 – )". Pony Books. Jane Badger Books. Retrieved 10 August 2012. Includes "K M Peyton Bibliography: pony books only" illustrated by thumbnail cover images of many editions.
  13. ^ Book Reviews by Jan Pye: K.M. Peyton's Young Adult Books
  14. ^ Horses at Fantastic Fiction
  • "Introduction" by Kathleen Peyton, Fly-By-Night, K M Peyton, Edinburgh: Fidra Books, 2007
  • Welcome to the web site of K M Peyton (autobiographical home page). K M Peyton: Author. Retrieved 2012-08-10.

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