The Oxus Books

Katharine Hull & Pamela Whitlock

Facebook group: The Oxus Books (contains re-publication details)

Wikipedia Article:

The Far-Distant Oxus (FDO) is a children's novel of 1937, written by Katharine Hull (1921-1977) and Pamela Whitlock (1920-1982). Escape to Persia (1938), and The Oxus in Summer (1939) are sequels.

The connection with Arthur Ransome, and J. Cape publisher, is related in the various AR biographies and auto-biagraphy.

Hull and Whitlock were two very bright schoolgirls who came up with the idea of a Ransome-type adventure (involving two families, and a mysterious character Maurice) set in Exmoor, involving pony riding, as well as some rafting, and using 'explorer' names from Persia.

The authors have a rather more direct and pragmatic approach to 'Native' facilities. The children – with the usual absent or distracted parents – do not hesitate to spend money on transportation, indulge in treats, and work in interludes of amateur dramatics, etc. Occasionally the authors slip up through incomplete adolescent knowledge. The shed-building episode in FDO is criticized as impossible in the time allowed. All of these items were left untouched by the editors. In addition, there are a few romantic glimmerings presented very tastefully, also left untouched.

Compared to AR, in some ways, therefore, these 3 books are more satisfying (although lacking suspenseful plot) to adults (and present-day children?). The continued readership today is remarkable.

Reviewed by Alan Truelove, June, 2009

This article is ©2009 by Alan Truelove, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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