- 71,164 ratings
- 1941 by Random House
- Date of birth: June 26, 1915
- Died: October 16, 1989
- Born: in Syracuse, New York, The United States.
- Description: Walter Farley's love for horses began when he was a small boy living in Syracuse, New York, and continued as he grew up in New York City, where his family moved. Young Walter never owned a horse. But unlike most city children, he had little trouble gaining firsthand experience with horses-his uncle was a professional horseman, and Walter spent much of his time at the stables with him.
"He wasn't the most successful trainer of race horses," Mr. Farley recalled, "and in a way I profited by it. He switched from runners to jumpers to show horses to trotters and pacers, then back to runners again. Consequently, I received a good background in different kinds of horse training and the people associated with each."
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.
The appearance of THE BLACK STALLION in 1941 was hailed by enthusiastic boys and girls all over the country. An avalanche of mail urged Mr. Farley to write more about Alec Ramsey and the Black. But World War II intervened. Mr. Farley went into the US Army, where he spent the next five years. Most of the time he was assigned to Yank, the army weekly magazine, and he was also trained in the Fourth Armored Division.
After the war Walter Farley resumed the adventures of Alec and the Black with THE BLACK STALLION RETURNS. This was followed by SON OF THE BLACK STALLION. Then Mr. Farley tried his hand at a story about a new boy, Steve Duncan, and a new horse, Flame, in THE ISLAND STALLION. Mr. Farley's readers were just as delighted with this book as his others.
Mr. Farley went on to write many more stories about the two stallions, and about other horses as well. Children of all ages have found Farley titles to enjoy, since many of the later stories were written for Mr. Farley's own children when they were too young to read his Stallion novels. And older readers and adults have been gripped by his fictionalized biography of America's greatest Thoroughbred, Man O'War. Walter Farley's titles reached a grand total of 34. The 21 Black Stallion and Island Stallion stories are still in print and selling steadily. His readers respond with passion, writing him thousands of letters and emails every year. In May 1949, the first Black Stallion Club was founded, in Kentucky. Mr. Farley designed a membership button for it; the button was in constant demand among his readers for years. The Black Stallion books were so popular in the late 1940s and '50s that they York Times annual list of best-selling children's books. Three nationwide Black Stallion contests were held. Walter Farley's books have been published abroad in more than 20 countries, including Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Israel, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaya, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as in the United States and Canada.
All his life Walter Farley remained a keen spectator of the racing scene, and he enjoyed nothing more than hobnobbing with horse trainers and other professional horsemen. It is thanks to these people that his books are so full of authentic details of raising and training horses. When not busy working or traveling, Mr. Farley liked to ride dressage and high school Lippizaner horses. He also sailed and sometimes raced his 35-foot auxiliary sloop "Circe."
Mr. Farley and his wife Rosemary, had four children: Pam, Alice, Steve, and Tim, whom they raised on a farm in Pennsylvania and in a beach house in Florida. In addit