The Far-Distant Oxus

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The Far-Distant Oxus
Far-Distant Oxus cover.jpg
Author Katharine Hull & Pamela Whitlock
Illustrator Pamela Whitlock
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Followed by Escape to Persia

The Far-Distant Oxus is a children’s novel of 1937, written by Katharine Hull (1921–1977)[1] and Pamela Whitlock (1920–1982).[2] The title comes from Matthew Arnold's poem Sohrab and Rustum.

Hull and Whitlock met when they were schoolchildren (fourteen and fifteen respectively), whilst sheltering from a thunderstorm.[3] They discovered shared interests and decided to write a story about ponies set on Exmoor.[3] They planned out the entire book and wrote alternate chapters, exchanging them afterwards to edit.[3] 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.[4] 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".[5] The two authors followed it with Escape to Persia (1938), The Oxus in Summer (1939) and Crowns (1947).[6]

Fidra Books reissued the novel in August, 2008.[7]



  1. ^ Carpenter and Prichard, 182.
  2. ^ Carpenter and Prichard, 569.
  3. ^ a b c Bearne and Watson, 56.
  4. ^ Brogan, 353.
  5. ^ Watson, 1121
  6. ^ Jane Badger page on the books
  7. ^ Fidra Books page on the book