The Far-Distant Oxus is a children’s novel of 1937, written by Katharine Hull (1921–1977) and illustrated by Pamela Whitlock (1920–1982). 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. They discovered shared interests and decided to write a story about ponies set on Exmoor. They planned out the entire book and wrote alternate chapters, exchanging them afterwards to edit. The story follows the model of the books of Arthur Ransome, describing the school holiday adventures of children of active, adventurous families, centred on outdoor activity and a vivid landscape soaked in imagination. 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.[ 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". The two authors followed it with Escape to Persia, The Oxus in Summer (1939) and Crowns (1947).
Fidra Books reissued the novel in August, 2008.
Very good condition, with dust jacket. Cover price clipped. Maroon board covers. Delightful illustrations and maps by Pamela Whitlock.