Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Patricia Leitch

We are very sad to announce that the author Patricia Leitch passed away on 28 July.  

Pat's humour, ability to capture the beauty of the natural world in her words, and sense of the strong and healing power of friendship touched readers all over the world. 

Pat was born, and spent much of her life, in Scotland - where she found the wild and beautiful setting that would feature in many of her books. She had many jobs, including being a teacher and (like the fantastic Miss Tuke in the Jinny at Finmory series!) working at a riding school. But running through all of this were her lifelong loves of horses, nature and language and - to the gratitude of many future readers - she decided to put these into stories.

Her books were a part of the childhood of so many readers, and Catnip are terrifically proud to have been able to bring the Jinny at Finmory series back into print. We felt very honoured and very grateful to Pat for allowing us to do this and for her very enthusiastic support.  

Over the years, we have received so many letters and messages from readers all over the world who wanted Pat to know how much her books meant to them. (If there was a rosette for 'most fan mail', Jinny and Shantih would definitely win!) It was clear that it wasn't just that readers enjoyed the stories, but that the friendship which Jinny and her Arab mare Shantih found in each other really meant something and gave people hope.

It was my predecessor at Catnip, Non - along with the author Lauren St John - who first made this happen. They both had treasured these books in their childhoods and wanted a new generation to be able to experience the same thing. (To find out more about what the books meant to Non, here is her blog post from when the new editions first came out).  And I hope that Pat knew just how much it meant to all of us to have the chance to share these books. 

A tribute from Lauren St John: 

As a horse-mad child growing up in Zimbabwe, Patricia Leitch's Jinny at Finmory series had a profound impact on my life. She was a writer who was decades ahead of her time in terms of her passion for animals, nature and the environment, and, most crucially, her understanding of the minds of horses and children who are outsiders. She promoted Natural Horsemanship before it had even been invented. To me, she is one of the most underrated and consistently brilliant children's authors in history. When I read her books now, as an adult, they are as fresh, important and beautifully written now as they were twenty or thirty years ago. I shall always be grateful to Catnip for reissuing them and for publishing them so wonderfully, and I'm tremendously honoured to have written the foreword to the books. After Catnip's edition of For Love of a Horse was published, Pat wrote to me and said how much pleasure it gave her to know that Jinny and Shantih were running free once again. I firmly believe that, wherever she is now, she'll be with them. Running free. 

Pat cared deeply and passionately about animals and the way we treat our environment, and so any donations in her memory can be made to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue in North Ayrshire.