Children's writer

Born: July 13, 1933;

Died: July 28, 2015

Patricia (Pat) Leitch, who has died aged 82, was a prolific author of children's fiction, especially the genre of pony books. Her Jinny series, which were set in the Highlands, were best sellers in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Her writing style challenged the prevailing "tweed jackets and hunting" set of the wealthy. Instead, Ms Leitch's characters had to overcome obstacles to reach their goals and realise their dreams and the hopeful riders in her books always had an air of realism.

She also explored through her writing the angst and emotions of growing up – the need to challenge authority and perhaps make mistakes. The qualities she admired and which are found in her stories are to follow your dreams, to measure success as transient and failure as a lesson. Her writing revealed her own desire to experience freedom from conventions. There is a restlessness in her characters which finds fulfilment in the harmony achieved between rider and horse.

All these ideas are played out in her 12-book Jinny' series, which tell the stories of a wilful and adventurous girl growing from a child to a teenager. The genre was very popular in the 70s, 80s and 90s and is now enjoying resurgence. It was a joy to Ms Leitch that the collection of books was reprinted recently by Catnip for a new generation of children to read.

Like her heroine, Jinny, Ms Leitch was independent, strong-willed and had an adventurous and romantic spirit. She also wrote fantasy books which, although aimed at children, contained layers of meaning which appealed also to adults.

She drew inspiration from many sources, such as archaeology, Celtic myths, ecology, psychology and Christianity and, of course, her great love of horses. She enjoyed many years of owning a horse and riding around Kilmacolm and also trekking holidays in the Highlands.

She also had canine companions most of her life. Her bearded collies, Misty and Meg, took a lot of looking after but they were her pride and joy. She was much saddened when she moved into a sheltered house and could no longer have a pet.

As well as her later career as a writer, Ms Leitch, who was born in Paisley, had been a librarian at the University of Glasgow and then trained as a primary school teacher, teaching in a school in Troon. She also remembered with affection at one stage being a housemaid to the Talisker Whisky family in Skye and enjoyed a dram herself.

She was a talented needlewoman and knowledgeable about many subjects. A particular consolation as her health deteriorated was her love of poetry. She had a phenomenal memory and eclectic taste and could still recite poems learned many years ago. However, she was very modest about her many accomplishments – and did not like praise.

She will be much missed by her many friends and fans alike who will long remember her for her unique gifts, strong personality, keen wit and generous heart.