The Far-Distant Oxus
|Author||Katharine Hull & Pamela Whitlock|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Followed by||Escape to Persia|
Hull and Whitlock met when they were schoolchildren (fourteen and fifteen respectively), whilst sheltering from a thunderstorm. They discovered shared interests and decided to write a story about ponies set on Exmoor. They planned out the entire book and wrote alternate chapters, exchanging them afterwards to edit. The story follows the model of the books of Arthur Ransome, describing the school holiday adventures of children of prosperous families, centred on outdoor activity and a vividly imagined landscape: Ransome had boats and Windermere, The Far-Distant Oxus had ponies and Exmoor.
Whitlock sent the manuscript to Ransome in March 1937; he in turn brought it to his publisher Jonathan Cape, saying that he had "the best children's book of 1937" for him. Cape published the book in the same format as Swallows and Amazons, and persuaded Ransome to write the introduction. The book, with illustrations by Whitlock, was indeed successful; contemporary reviewers were impressed and critics today are still positive. The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books comments that it is "as absorbing as Ransome at his best". The two authors followed it with Escape to Persia (1938), The Oxus in Summer (1939) and Crowns (1947).
- The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English, by Victor Watson, Cambridge University Press, 2001
- The Life of Arthur Ransome, by Hugh Brogan, Jonathan Cape, 1984
- The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, by Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard, Oxford: OUP, 1984
- Where Texts and Children Meet, by Eve Bearne and Victor Watson, Routledge, 1999