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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Walter Farley

The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion

I was ten years old when I first read The Black Stallion and it was the first time I consciously chose to read every book by the author, Walter Farley. From his wiki:

Walter Farley (born Walter Lorimer Farley, 26 June 1915 in Syracuse, New York – 16 October 1989 in Sarasota, Florida) was the son of Walter Patrick Farley and Isabelle “Belle” L. (Vermilyea) Farley. He was an American author, primarily of horse stories for children. Educated at Columbia, where he received a B.A. in 1941, his first and most famous work was The Black Stallion (1941). He wrote many sequels, and the series has been continued since his death by his son Steven.

His bio has a little more info:

Walter Farley began to write his first book, THE BLACK STALLION, while he was a student at Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School and Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, and finished it while he was an undergraduate at Columbia University. It was published by Random House when he was 26. He used his first advance to go traveling and after that hardly stopped longer than it took him to write another book. He traveled and lived in Mexico, Hawaii, the South Seas, most of the South American countries, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe.

I had read parts of other children’s book series to this point. The Bobbsey Twins. The Happy Hollisters. But it was The Black Stallion that captured my imagination. It did not take me long to read all the books in the series that had been published through 1960 (it was 1962 when I first read The Black Stallion.) By my count, that is fifteen books out of what were eventually 24 total.

Of course, as a native Kentuckian, I knew the story of Man O’War but I know I read and enjoyed Farley’s fictional account titled – what else – Man O’War.

I will admit that I have never watched the movie The Black Stallion. I think because even after all these years, I would compare it to the book and find it wanting. I can occasionally read a book and still enjoy the movie based upon the book but that is rare for me. It’s far better for me to see a movie first then go read the book. Only in the rarest of situations am I able to accept the movie of a book I have enjoyed first on its merits, separate from the book. The Black Stallion meant too much to me when I was captured by the book and series to let the movie infringe on my memories.

I do not know if Farley’s books are still available in today’s libraries and book stores but can only say I think most any boys and girls who enjoy reading can find them a nice universe to escape to for a bit of time.

Picture from Sean licensed under Creative Commons

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Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL