Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

Subscribe RISK FREE for complete access to website PLUS
twice-monthly e-magazine.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

Who is Edith Somerville?

laura 1Edith Somerville (left) and Violet Martin (right) from "Irish Memories" (1919) by E. Œ. Somerville and Martin Ross. Image from Wikimedia Commons. 

I discovered Edith Œnone Somerville (Irish, 1858-1949), cousin and writing partner of Violet Martin (Irish, 1862-1915), while searching the National Sporting Library & Museum archives for content to post on the NSLM’s Facebook page for Women’s History Month. One of my favorite things about my job are the opportunities I have to research our collections and share them digitally, but I felt that Edith Somerville’s story deserved more than a Facebook post.

Somerville was the first female Master of Foxhounds in Ireland, the West Carbery in Skibereen, County Cork. By no means incidentally, she was also a writer, humorist, artist, suffragist and feminist, and believer in the occult. She was President of the Munster Women’s Franchise League, was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by Trinity College Dublin in 1932, and was invited to become a member of the Irish Academy of Letters by W.B. Yeats the following year.

Racing Time: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Liberation

Book Review by Steven D. Price

racing time.smithwick.priceRacing Time: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Liberation, Patrick Smithwick, Dementi Milestone Publishing, Manakin-Sabot, VA, 2019, cloth, illustrations by Sam Robinson, 481 pagesIn 2006 Patrick Smithwick published Racing My Father, a memoir of his legendary steeplechaser forebear, A.P. "Paddy" Smithwick. Six years later came Flying Change, the account of the author's youth as a race rider under his father's tutelage before leaving the track for a writing and teaching career until the sport's siren song drew him back.

Now comes Racing Time. Subtitled A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Liberation, it is at once a celebration of the author's appreciation of family and friends, both human and equine, and an elegiac recollection of three men with whom Smithwick's life was as closely entwined as the braids on a hunting whip lash: the late former-jockeys-turned trainers Tom Voss and Dickie Small (names familiar to all race enthusiasts) and groom Speedy Kiniel.

Dartmoor and Doyle

dartmoor ponies.janetladnerJanet Ladner photo

Photographer Janet Ladner was out following the Mid-Devon Foxhounds when she came across these wild ponies taking shelter from the snow. I have hunted on Dartmoor, in England’s West Country, and found it to be a fascinating landscape of bleakness and beauty, with visible reminders of cultures that serially take one back in time all the way to prehistory. While hunting, one comes across ditches left by tin mining activity that began in pre-Roman times and continued to the twentieth century, evidence of farm tillage going back to the Bronze age in the parallel rows running across the slopes, and standing stones erected in prehistoric times. During quiet moments when hounds check, one can allow the imagination to soar.

For me, Dartmoor also conjures memories of cold winter boyhood days at home, reading the spooky mystery, Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was the third of his Sherlock Holmes novels to be published, and this Dartmoor mystery filled my young head with delicious terror.

By coincidence, Janet Ladner’s photos of the ponies on Dartmoor arrived just as writer/editor Steve Price sent me this foxhunting poem, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. A confluence of Dartmoor and Doyle. Who knew he wrote such poetry?