Kitty Barne

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Marion Catherine "Kitty" Barne (17 November 1882 – 3 February 1961[1][2]) was a British screenwriter and author of children's books, especially on music and musical themes.[3] She won the 1940 Carnegie Medal for British children's books.[4]

She was born in Petersham, Surrey, but was brought up in Somerset and Sussex, and later studied at the Royal College of Music. On 12 April 1912, in Eastbourne, she married Eric Streatfeild, thus becoming the cousin-in-law of another popular children's writer Noel Streatfeild.[3][5][6] Eric Streatfeild was the first cousin of Noel Streatfeild's father.

Barne was a member of the Women's Voluntary Service, responsible for the reception of children evacuated to Sussex. During the war years, she published six novels,[6] most notably Visitors from London about evacuees (J. M. Dent, 1940). For that work she won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject.[1][4]

She is possibly best known now for her pony books Rosina Copper and its sequel Rosina and Son, about the true story of an Argentine polo pony mare that was rescued from neglect after being ordered to be killed.[7][8] They were illustrated by Alfons Purtscher and Marcia Lane Foster respectively.

Apart from her novels, she wrote some non-fiction books, including a biography of Elizabeth Fry (who was her husband's great grandmother) in 1950,[9] a book about the orchestra and a history of the Girl Guides. She was the Girl Guides "Commissioner for Music and Drama" for some years.[2]

Ruth Gervis, the illustrator of a number of her books, said of her:

To an illustrator, Kitty Barne was a most delightful author, not because she gave one a free hand, far from it, but because she knew exactly what she wanted and was so delighted when one caught her visual images. It was a true collaboration of author and artist. We would meet and then, her good ear towards me, her eyes shining, her face alive with interest, she would discuss her characters. I used to make dozens of quick sketches until I got them as she pictured them, helped by her interjections, `Oh, rather a higher forehead and even deeper set eyes` or 'oh, no you've made her far too nice, I think she is a horrid little girl.' We would laugh together over her amusing adults as she suggested incidents for me to sketch which would bring out their characteristics.
Chosen for Children, 1977.[10]

She died on 3 February 1961 after a long illness.[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Easter Holidays aka Secret of the Sandhills (1935)
  • She Shall Have Music (1938)
  • Family Footlights (1939)
  • Visitors from London (1940)
  • Listening to the Orchestra (1941)
  • May I Keep Dogs? aka Bracken, My Dog (1941)
  • We'll Meet in England (1942)
  • The Amber Gate (1942)
  • Three and a Pigeon (1944)
  • In the Same Boat (1945)
  • Here Come the Girl Guides (1946)
  • Musical Honours (1947)
  • Bracken My Dog (1949)
  • Dusty's Windmill (1949)
  • Roly's Dog (1950)
  • Elizabeth Fry: a story biography (1950)
  • The Windmill Mystery (1950)
  • Barbie (1952)
  • Admiral's Walk (1953)
  • Music Perhaps (1953)
  • Rosina Copper (1954)
  • Tann's Boarders (1955)
  • Rosina and Son (1956)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "N/A". Library Association Record. Library Association: 102.
  2. ^ a b c E. F. Bozman (15 February 1961). "Obituary". The Times.
  3. ^ a b Brian Doyle (1968). The Who's Who of Children's Literature. p. 20. ISBN 0-8052-0307-9.
  4. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 1940). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  5. ^ "Interesting Wedding – Mr Eric Streatfeild and Miss Kitty Barne". Eastbourne Chronicle. 13 April 1912.
  6. ^ a b Owen Dudley Edwards (2007). British Children's Fiction in the Second World War. pp. 184, 258–9. ISBN 0-7486-1651-9.
  7. ^ Peter Hunt, Sheila Ray. International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Taylor & Francis. p. 365. ISBN 0-415-08856-9.
  8. ^ "Kitty Barne – Rosina Copper, Mystery Mare". The Horn Book Magazine. Vol. 2 no. 32. Horn Book, Inc. 1956.
  9. ^ Kitty Barne (1950). Elizabeth Fry: a story biography. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
  10. ^ Marcus Crouch (1957). Chosen for Children. Library Association. p. 23. ISBN 0-85365-349-6.

External links[edit]