Feeding the Horse with the Green Nose

A.F.E Smith, the talented fantasy writer, is to blame. Or rather, I should humbly thank AFE, not blame her. It was an interview with AFE that brought ‘The Horse with the Green Nose’ back to my mind. Now, I can’t get that horse out of my thoughts, what’s more ‘feeding the horse with the green nose’ has become my catch-all phrase for my own fiction writing.The horse with the Green Nose

You see, ‘The Horse with the Green Nose’, by Agnes Frome, is one of the earliest books I can remember reading. It had been passed down the generations in my family; battered and worn but with a fabulous soft cover and a unique smell. I can’t tell you much about Agnes though. It seems likely that Frome was a nom-de-plume, taken from the town in Somerset. Some clever genealogical work has discovered that she was probably really Agnes Dora Rimmer, born c 1895. She definitely contributed to a series of ‘Herbert Strang’s Readers’, written for the Oxford University Press, which can be found in second-hand bookshops and all look to be the products of a very bygone age; as, of course, they are.

Apart from ‘The Horse with the Green Nose’ by Agnes Frome.

This story concerns a young boy who has a picture in his nursery of a nice horse with a green nose. The horse also has its legs on back to front, but as I recall that didn’t really matter – not a plot point. What matters is that the horse is trying to eat some very red apples. The best apples ever. Unfortunately they are permanently out of reach. A very sad situation, I’m sure you will agree.

So, the boy did what any young boy would do. He went into the picture to feed the apples to the nice horse. The horse was very pleased about this, as any horse would be. The story had more to it, but this is the bit that mattered to me: happy boy, happy horse, excellent!

And ever since I read this book, this is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been going into the picture to feed the horse with the green nose. At first, stories that I thought needed fixing or that could be improved – usually by the introduction of a blond, freckled, full-of-beans young boy, with one slightly sticky-out ear and a very tricky surname. Books, films, radio, I didn’t care – it was, and still is, the story that is important.

Before the stories became my own – mostly. Written at first in my head, lying awake at night playing them out, over and over again, until they reached a point of such familiarity that I could just lie back and enjoy watching them. I had my own cinema in my head, accessible as required.

Still do it too, feeding the horse with the green nose. I couldn’t think of a better name for it, so thanks for that AFE and good luck feeding your own horses too.

This cover of the book is not from the copy I had all those years ago. If anybody out there finds another let me know, or better still, give it to a freckled, full-of-beans young boy or girl – the sticky-out ear is optional.


Although I haven’t yet found the book cover picture I am looking for, I have had more ‘Agnes Frome’ news. There are other books out there! One’s called ‘Whisker: The Story of a Cat’ and was written in 1927. Reader Cathy in Australia, who has a copy, forwarded the news to me along with a photocopied page that shows a third book! This is ‘The Enchanted Orange’ and I’m enchanted already.

frome books 2

Any more news, please let me – and Cathy – know.


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Author and scriptwriter, Terry Newman

19 thoughts on “Feeding the Horse with the Green Nose”

  1. I have a earlier book written by agnes frome. It called whiskers and was written in 1927. I have been unable to find any information at all on this book on the internet if you have any knowledge or information about it, I would be very grateful


      1. Hi. Seems there is one copy of this book held in a state library. Now to try find out what its worth somehow. It was the only edition of this book printed



  2. Agnes Frome (real name Agnes Rimmer) wrote an amazing amount before she died quite young. Two adult novels, a score of short stories in Strang’s Annuals, and these readers. They were somewhat popular in Australia as they were given out as school prizes.
    My family were raised on “Matchbox Hero” by her.


      1. The children’s readers are
        The Christmas fairy
        Bingo : the story of a monkey
        Whiskers: the story or a cat
        The Disappearing Trick
        The Enchanted Oranges: a dream story
        The magic ragman
        Flip the jester
        In Sonia’s Room
        The horse with a green nose: a dream story
        Bingo: the story of a monkey

        The Christmas/Holiday stories are
        My Hat
        Judy and the treasure
        Doctor’s orders
        Drops of mystery
        The magnificent secret
        The Tale of Little Jimmy and the Baker
        Box of tricks
        Nora’s Garden

        the novels are
        In Sonia’s Room
        The Shining Sword


  3. I should also say that front cover that you have is the standard one from Strang’s readers. I’d post the frontispiece, but I don’t see how I can


    1. I’m trying to get the material together for a collected works print-on-demand, with a biography of her rather surprising life. She wrote all of that between 27 and 31, when she died of cancer.

      I suspect that “In Sonia’s Room” is autobiographical-
      Here is a review “The pictures of the shabby Bohemianism of post-war London are excellent, and form a fitting background to the life of Paula Lamariere, a pianist. ”

      Given you’re a novelist I won’t have to point out the Dostoevsky reference in the title, but other people reading the blog mightn’t. But she seems to have had a child with an Artist while she was making a living as an artist’s model. Her husband from whom she was estranged was John Rimmer, also an artist, who seems to have come back from the war with PTSD.


  4. Hello, I have an illustrated copy of ‘the Horse with the Green Nose’ by Agnes Frome, printed in 1927 as part of The Oxford Books for Children. Please email me if you’d like photos, kind regards, John


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