Josephine Pullein-Thompson

Along with her two sisters and mother (Joanna Cannan) Josephine forms part of the most famous pony book writing dynasty of all time. Born in 1924. She and her two younger sisters, twins Christine and Diana, wrote a pony book together when still in their teens. From then on the rest, as they say, was history. The girls' knowledge and experience of ponies - they ran their own riding school - shines through in their books.

Josephine's books are a little different in style to that of her two sisters, tending to be more humourous and they also contain more technical riding information. For example the character of Major Holbrooke in the Noel and Henry series imparts his knowledge to the riders, and also to the reader, who learns at the same time as enjoying a great pony story. This reflects the attitude of Josephine herself who was probably the most interested in the theory of riding of the three sisters. In her role as riding instructor and pony club worker, she realised that standards had to be raised, and her books were one way of doing so. Her novels are full of dedicated characters like Noel Kettering who try to improve their riding and are rewarded for doing so.

An interesting aspect of riding technique which appears in The Noel and Henry series in particular, is the development of the forward seat to replace the old fashioned backwards variety. The 'Continental' seat as it was also called was adopted by the top British riders as they realised that this European form of riding was far superior. However it caused a controversy amongst riders of the time, many seeing it as a new-fangled fancy. Josephine was obviously on the side of the new riding technique and was not above promoting it in her books. John's father in Six ponies is a staunch supporter of the backward seat and is scornful of the Major who favours the continental style. However it is only when John moves away from his father's viewpoint and learns the new way, that his riding dramatically improves.

It is testament to the author's skill that she managed to convey all this instruction without ever sounding didactic or dreary. In fact it is this very detailed approach to the riding aspect of the books that makes them so interesting for many readers.

Unfortunately this highly successful combination of great story and riding instruction was for the most part abandoned by Josephine in the 1970s and 80s when she instead wrote a series of adventure type stories which are in my opinion far inferior. These included the 'Moors' series, some of which are the hardest of her books to find today. The adventure stories are not bad books but are not in the same league as her earlier novels. Josephine did write a few non-adventure books in this period including The No Good Pony, The Prize Pony and The Woodbury Pony Club series, which, if not scaling the heights of her halcyon writing days, are a lot more entertaining than the adventure novels. Her last pony novel A Job With Horses was written for an older readership.

Josephine additionally wrote a couple of adult novels, one under the name of Josephine Mann.

Noel and Henry/Pony Club Series:
Possibly the best pony book series ever written! An array of disparate characters cause mischief and mayhem in their local pony club. A humourous series.

1) SIX PONIES
(COLLINS 1946)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
Reprinted in hardback with pictorial boards by Swift.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
Recently reprinted in paperback by Fidra Books.
SUMMARY: Six pony club members are chosen by Major Holbrooke to break in some wild young ponies. Noel is despondant as she feels her riding is too bad to have a pony to train. June and her mother are sure their pony will be the only one properly trained, and the Radcliffes see the undertaking as a chance to have fun. And Richard sees the pony as an obstacle to his enjoyment of the summer holidays. But even as the pony club members teach their youngsters, they find they learn more about life and themselves at the same time.
PONYMAD RATING: GOLDEN CUP FOR AN OUTSTANDING READ!
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Read/join in with a discussion of Six Ponies in our reading circle
Play the Six Ponies Quiz

2) PONY CLUB TEAM
(COLLINS 1950)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback by Collins as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 11) and by Swift.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
Recently reprinted in paperback by Fidra.
SUMMARY: Noel and her friends must compete in a pony club event to help the Major win a bet. He allows some of the members to stay at Folly Court but soon regrets this as the children get into fights, ruin his crops and let out his wife's prize parrot! Hilarious fun!
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion of Pony Club Team in our reading circle

3) THE RADNEY RIDING CLUB
(COLLINS 1951)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback with pictorial boards by Swift and in paperback by both Knight and Armada.
SUMMARY: Noel goes to stay with Heny and they start up a riding club. But all does not go well, half the members are hopeless and their first instructor is terrible. Henry asks the Major for help and he recommends one of his friends. Can he transform the club members?
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion of Radney Riding Club in our reading circle

4) ONE DAY EVENT
(COLLINS 1954)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback by Collins as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 10) and by Swift. Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
SUMMARY: The pony club members rally together to help when the Major has an accident. But the Major isn't content to convalesce peacefully and against his wife's advice starts up an eventing course for the pony club members.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion of One Day Event in our reading circle

5) PONY CLUB CAMP
(COLLINS 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback by Collins as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 10).
Reprinted in hardback by Swift.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
SUMMARY: At last Noel and her friends are off to pony club camp. There are plenty of laughs as Christopher loses his cool trying to win the camp competition, Nicholas falls head over heels in love with Noel and Gay turns match-maker. A very funny light-hearted read.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES
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Read/join in with a discussion of Pony Club Camp in our reading circle

Collectors Info:
First editions are rare. Pony Club Team, One Day Event and Pony Club Camp were republished in hardback by Collins in the 1970s as part of the Collins Pony Library and these editions are easier to find than the firsts, although not common. The full series was also republished in hardback with pictorial boards by Swift, once again fairly hard editions to find. All were reprinted in paperback many times by Armada/Knight - these are the easiest copies to find. Six Ponies and Pony Club Team have also been recently published in paperback form by Fidra Books.
Unfortunately for American and Australian collectors, the series is harder to come across overseas and can be more expensive.

Moor Series:
Mainly adventure stories set on moors which seem to be an amalgamation of Bodmin and Exmoor. New characters are introduced and older ones phased out in the later books, which has not proved a popular move with readers. The earlier books in the series are the best.

PONYMAD SERIES RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

1) STAR RIDERS OF THE MOOR
aka STAR RIDERS (J A Allen paperback edition)
(HODDER AND STOUGHTON 1976)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Reprinted in paperback by Knight.
Reprinted in paperback by J A Allen under new title.
SUMMARY: First in the series about Frances and Louisa Burnett and their friends The Mitchells and the Jacksons who all live on the moors and enjoy riding their ponies together. In this story the children are asked to help with a crew making a film about smugglers, but is there something more sinister behind the film making?

2) FEAR TREKS THE MOOR
(HODDER AND STOUGHTON  1978)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Reprinted in paperback by Knight.
SUMMARY: When Mr. Jackson has an accident the children all pitch in to help run his trekking business. But one of the trekkers, a mysterious boy called N. Hutchinson is terrified of some strange men who say they are his uncles. What is the truth behind the mystery?

3) RIDE TO THE RESCUE 
(HODDER AND STOUGHTON 1979)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Reprinted in paperback by Beaver.
SUMMARY: Frances has a new pony, the high spirited Orlando. Because of his unruly behaviour her friends are not sure about her choice. However it is Orlando who is vital in solving the mystery of old Mrs. Hathaway's intruders.

4) GHOST HORSE ON THE MOOR
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1980)
ILLUSTRATED BY ERIC ROWE
Reprinted in paperback by Beaver.
SUMMARY: There are rumours of a mysterious ghostly horse running on the moors. The children, however, are certain that the horse is real and are determined to catch him and solve the mystery.

5) TREASURE ON THE MOOR
(H & S 1982)
ILLUSTRATED BY JON DAVIS
Rare.
SUMMARY: Frances and Louisa team up with some new friends to search for a mysterious treasure.

6) MYSTERY ON THE MOOR
(H & S 1984)
ILLUSTRATED BY CHRIS ROTHERO
As far as I am aware not reprinted at all, therefore no paperback edition.
Can be hard to find.
SUMMARY: This story centres upon the new characters, including  Sukey and Chris, who get involved with an oil spill and a mysterious kennel owner.
Read Review

7) SUSPICION STALKS THE MOOR
(H & S 1986)
ILLUSTRATED BY GLENN STEWARD
Can be hard to find
SUMMARY: Sukey and her friends are certain that a missing stallion is being kept at a nearby farm and set out to solve the mystery.

Collectors Info:
The first four were reprinted as paperbacks and are fairly easy to find in the UK. The last three in series were not reprinted and are rarer, with Treasure on the Moor being the hardest to find. These three can be expensive but price does vary a lot. All the series are hard to find in the USA, Australia and elsewhere.


Woodbury Pony Club Series:
A new set of Pony Club characters go through various trials and tribulations. Not to be confused with the earlier Pony Club series.

PONYMAD SERIES RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

1) PONY CLUB CUP
(ARMADA PB 1983)
SUMMARY: The Woodbury Pony Club are hopeless and the joke of the neighbourhood. When they learn their new instructor is to be a smashed up ex-jockey they don't hold out much hope for improvement. But surprises are in store for the children.

2) PONY CLUB CHALLENGE
(ARMADA PB 1984)
SUMMARY: The Pony Club members take on their deadly rivals the Cranford Vale team in an attempt to win a gruelling tetrathlon. But can they beat their brilliant rivals?

3) PONY CLUB TREK
(ARMADA PB 1985)
SUMMARY: The Pony Club members are off on a three day trek over the Downs. Surely they can't get up to much trouble in three days….wanna bet?

Other Editions:

PONY CLUB STORIES
(DEAN 1994)
SUMMARY: Omnibus edition containing all three stories. A large hardback edition with pictorial boards.

Collectors Info:
First editions were paperbacks. All the books are easy to find in the UK. They can be harder to get hold of elsewhere but American buyers should be able to buy copies from the UK cheaply via Amazon, etc.

Black Beauty's Family/Clan Series:
A series of historical pony novels following in the hoofprints of Black Beauty. The novels are set from the horse's point of view and are the life stories of a number of Black Beauty's relatives. The stories were written by all 3 of the Pullein-Thompson sisters and I have included this section on
each of their web-pages.

PONYMAD SERIES RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

1) BLACK BEAUTY'S CLAN
(BROCKHAMPTON 1975)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Includes: 
BLACK VELVET  (by Christine)
BLACK PRINCESS (by Diana)
BLACK EBONY (by Josephine)

First published as a hardback volume containing the above three stories. Reprinted as a paperback omnibus by Red Fox in 2000 when it was confusingly re-titled BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY (See 'other editions' section below)
The 3 stories were also published separately as paperbacks by Knight.

2) BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1978)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
Includes:
BLACK NIGHTSHADE (by Josephine)
BLACK ROMANY (by Diana)
BLOSSOM (by Christine)

First published as a hardback volume containing the above three stories. Reprinted by Red Fox in 2001 as MORE FROM BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY (See below)
Black Nightshade was I think the only one of these stories to be published separately as a paperback by Knight.

3) BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY 2
(BEAVER 1982)
Includes:
BLACK RAVEN AND THE WITCH (by Josephine)
BLACK PIPER (by Diana)
BLACK PIONEER (by Christine)

First edition was a paperback. Shorter than the other omnibus editions: the three stories are novella size rather than full length novels

Other Editions:

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY 1
(BEAVER 1981)
ILLUSTRATED BY ELISABETH GRANT
SUMMARY: Paperback containing: Black Romany and Blossom

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(RED FOX PB 2000)
SUMMARY: Paperback reprint of
Black Beauty's Clan containing Ebony, Princess and Velvet.

MORE FROM BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(RED FOX PB 2001)
SUMMARY: Paperback reprint of
Black Beauty's Family, containing: Black Nightshade, Romany and Blossom

BLACK BEAUTY'S FAMILY
(CHANCELLOR PRESS )
SUMMARY: A large hardback omnibus edition with pictorial boards. Contains Velvet, Princess, Ebony, Nightshade, Romany, Blossom.

Collectors Info: 
Although none of the books are particularly rare, this is an extremely confusing series to collect as there were several omnibus editions with similar names and many of the reprints were also re-named.
They were first published in omnibus form, each volume containing 3 stories, making a total of  9 separate stories. Some of the books (see above for which ones) were also published as single volume paperbacks. The first 6 stories appeared in a number of different omnibuses, although the last three were not reprinted at all and are only available in
Black Beauty's Family 2.  Please consult the above list to make sure you don't buy duplicates!

Other Horse & Pony Books:

IT BEGAN WITH PICOTEE
(With Christine and Diana Pullein-Thompson)
(A & C BLACK 1946)
ILLUSTRATED BY ROSEMARY ROBERTSON
Fairly rare
SUMMARY: Early collaboration by all three sisters, written when they were just teenagers.
PONYMAD RATING: 2 HORSESHOES

I HAD TWO PONIES
(COLLINS 1947)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 27). Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
First edition rare, Collins Pony Library edition fairly hard to find, paperback edition easiest, but rarer than most of the author's other paperback titles.
SUMMARY: A spoilt brat does not want to look after her own ponies, so her father sells them. However, whilst staying with her father's friends and their children she learns the errors of her ways and is determined to get back her ponies.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

PLENTY OF PONIES
(COLLINS 1949)
ILLUSTRATED BY ANNE BULLEN
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
Most editions are easy to find.
SUMMARY: Very funny book about a group of unruly kids trying to improve their riding and behaviour!
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

PRINCE AMONG PONIES
(COLLINS 1952)
ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLOTTE HOUGH
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Seagull Library.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
Most editions, apart from the first, are easy to find.
SUMMARY: Two children fall in love with a pony but he belongs to their cousins.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion of Prince Among Ponies in our reading circle

SHOW JUMPING SECRET
(COLLINS 1955)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Seagull Library.
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 28).
Reprinted in hardback by Chivers.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada.
The first edition and the Chivers hardback seem to be the hardest editions to find. Paperbacks are common.
SUMMARY: After contracting polio Charles has health problems but is determined to overcome them and show jump his mare Secret.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

PATRICK'S PONY
(COLLINS 1956)
ILLUSTRATED BY GEOFFREY WHITTAM
Reprinted as a Beaver paperback.
First edition quite rare, paperback edition a bit harder to find than most of the author's other paperbacks.
SUMMARY: Aimed at a slightly younger readership than the other books. Orphaned Patrick's only friend in the world is Taffy, his scruffy little pony. He has a chance at happiness by becoming adopted and living in a wonderful home with a lovely pony to ride...but if the cost is giving up Taffy, he will turn his back on happiness for the sake of his beloved pony.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES
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THE TRICK JUMPERS
(COLLINS 1958)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in hardback as part of the Collins Pony Library (number 22).
Reprinted  in paperback by Armada.
First edition quite rare, the other editions easier to find but not common.
SUMMARY: Funny story about  a misfit family of hopeless riders who earn the respect of the local kids by becoming trick jumpers.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

ALL CHANGE
aka THE HIDDEN HORSE (later paperback editions)
(BENN 1961)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Reprinted in paperback by Armada under original title.
Reprinted under the name of
The Hidden Horse by Armada, then by J A Allen, both in paperback.
SUMMARY: Humourous story with serious undertones. A new owner takes over the farm which a group of children's father manages. The kids conspire to save a condemned horse whilst worrying that their father may lose his job and their home.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES
Read/join in with a discussion of All Change in our reading circle

RACE HORSE HOLIDAY
(ARMADA PB 1971)
First edition was paperback.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn.
Reprinted in paperback by Armada
Reprinted in paperback by Cavalier
Paperbacks are fairly easy to find. The Severn hardback edition is the rarest.
SUMMARY: Children on a holiday at a racing stables get mixed up in a plot to nobble racehorses.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

THE NO-GOOD PONY
(SPARROW PB 1981)
First edition was paperback.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House.
Hard to find in both editions, especially the hardback.
SUMMARY: Two sets of kids have to overcome their dislike of each other when their parents marry.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

THE PRIZE PONY
(SPARROW PB 1982)
First edition was paperback.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House.
Hardback is rare, paperback not common but usually cheap. Can be hard to find outside of the UK.
SUMMARY: A girl is delighted to win a pony in a competition but the reality is far from the dream when she can't manage the pony.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

SAVE THE PONIES
(SPARROW PB 1983)
First edition was paperback.
Reprinted in hardback by Severn House.
Hardback is rare, paperback not common but usually cheap. Can be hard to find outside of the UK.
SUMMARY: Children on holiday in Greece get caught up in a plot to save some ponies.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

BLACK SWIFT
(CANONGATE 1991)
SUMMARY: Historical pony story, not part of the Black Beauty's Family series as could be thought from the title.

A JOB WITH HORSES
(J ALLEN  PB 1994)
First edition was paperback.
SUMMARY: A girl finds leaving home to work with horses more than she bargains for when she gets involved with a business arranging jousting demonstrations.
PONYMAD VIEW: Ideal for older readers as features a young adult heroine. The unusual content makes it a good choice for someone wanting something a bit different from a run of the mill pony story.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
See above for more detailed info on specific titles. All except It All Began With Pictoee were published as paperbacks, mostly reprints, although a few were paperback originals. Most are fairly easy to find as such, with the hardest paperbacks being Patrick's Pony, The No Good Pony. Save the Ponies and The Prize Pony. These can be very tricky to get hold of outside of the UK. First editions of the older titles are rare and may be expensive. Pictoee is probably the hardest to title to find, especially with a jacket.

Short Stories Collections:

THE PULLEIN-THOMPSON TREASURY OF HORSE AND PONY STORIES

(With Diana and Josephine Pullein-Thompson)
(AWARD 1995)
ILLUSTRATED BY ERIC ROWE
SUMMARY: A large hardback edition chock-full of pony stories by the three sisters. A few were first published in pony annuals but most were written for this book.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Hardback with pictorial boards. Easy to find and usually cheap.

Short Stories Collections Edited by the Author:

PROUD RIDERS
(By Various authors)
(BROCKHAMPTON 1973)
Reprinted in paperback by
SUMMARY: Compilation of stories, verses and other horse-related bits and bobs.

Collectors Info:
Reasonably easy to find in the UK, a little harder elsewhere.

Short Stories in Other Books & Collections:
Includes stories by the author published in single volumes. For collected stories by the author please see The Pullein-Thompson Treasury of Horse and Pony Stories above. 
Please note: this is not an exhaustive list, there may be more stories I do not know about. If you know of any others please do contact me.

IF I HAD THAT PONY
in COLLINS CHILDRENS ANNUAL
(COLLINS UNDATED CIRCA 1950s)
ILLUSTRATOR UNCREDITED - POSSIBLY SHEILA ROSE?
SUMMARY: Colin's dreadful riding ruins his pony Bramble and she is sent to a sale where she is bought by horse mad Judy. Judy's care and sympathetic riding transforms Bramble and gives Colin a nasty shock at a jumping competition!
PONYMAD VIEW: An excellent horse story with a great twist in the tale. Very nice uncredited illustrations which look to be by Sheila Rose.
PONYMAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES

THE FAILURE
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1966
(MAX PARRISH 1965)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
SUMMARY: Phillipa feels a failure next to her much more successful sisters.

COWARD ON HORSEBACK
in DAILY MIRROR BOOK OF HORSES AND PONIES
(HAMLYN 1970)
ILLUSTRATOR NOT CREDITED
SUMMARY: Lyn feels a failure as she is such a nervous rider but when show off Nigel is hurt she must show her true colours to get him help.
PONYMAD RATING: 2-3 HORSESHOES

IT ISN'T FAIR
in DAILY MIRROR BOOK OF HORSES AND PONIES
(HAMLYN 1970)
ILLUSTRATOR NOT CREDITED
SUMMARY: Philippa spends her time feeling jealous of other people and their wonderful ponies. Even when she gets a pony of her own she is not satisfied. However experience teaches her to cherish what she has instead of envying other people.
PONYMAD VIEW: A good moral message wrapped up in an excellent pony story with a realistic main character.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

A HORRIBLY HORSEY DAUGHTER
n PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1971
(PURNELL 1970)
ILLUSTRATED BY JANET JOHNSTONE
Also in
HORSE AND DOG STORIES
(CAVALIER PB 1995)
Paperback original
Still in print
SUMMARY: Miranda is horse-mad but her father thinks that all horsy people are bores and refuses to let her have her own pony.

THE SCAVENGER HUNT
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1972
(PURNELL 1971)
ILLUSTRATED BY JANET JOHNSTONE

THE BIRDWATCHER OF BEACON HILL
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1973
(PURNELL 1972)
ILLUSTRATED BY SIAN WILLIAMS
SUMMARY: Longish mystery/adventure story. Riding out on the moors in their new home on their new ponies, Marcus and Rosie befriend a birdwatcher, but later wonder if he is all that he seems.
PONYMAD VIEW: A good start and good characters, but marred a little by the overly melodramatic plot and the ending peters out a little, leaving the reader wanting to know more.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

CHOP AND CHANGE
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1974
(PURNELL 1973)
ILLUSTRATED BY SALLY WEBB

BONE OF CONTENTION
in PONY CLUB ANNUAL 1976
(PURNELL 1975)
ILLUSTRATED BY SALLY BELL
SUMMARY: A horsy family start a feud with a local man when he stops them using a bridleway next to his house.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Some of these are easier to find than others. In general the 1970s Pony Club annuals are reasonably easy to find, in the UK at least, the 1960s ones are a bit harder. The Daily Mirror book is fairly easy to find in the UK and usually cheap, but a lot harder elsewhere.
Horse and Dog Stories is a paperback which is still in print and available from the publisher's website.
Collins Children's Annual is quite rare.

Books about the author:

FAIR GIRLS AND GREY HORSES
(With Christine, Diana Pullein-Thompson)
(ALLISON & BUSBY 1996)
Reprinted in paperback.
SUMMARY: Joint autobiography of the three Pullein-Thompson sisters. Written with Diana and Josephine. Suitable for adults or older children.

Collectors Info:
Although not common, can be found reasonably easily on the internet.