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Phoebe Erickson

Phoebe Erickson wrote and illustrated children’s books. Many of them are about animals, and she also illustrated an adaptation of Black Beauty, adapted (and much shortened) by Eleanor Graham Vance for Random House in 1949. Born in 1907 in North Bay, Wisconsin, she grew up on a farm and was educated at the Chicago Art Institute and Columbia University. Her books reflected her rural upbringing, and her feeling that children should be educated gently. She felt children learned best when the message was not forced, and so the cruelty animals suffered was not necessarily spelled out bleakly; it was evident if the illustrations were studied.


The University of Minnesota, in its collection of her papers, has illustrations for books called Shire Colt and Shy Little Colt and Other Stories. I have not been able to find any evidence of these books being authored by Erickson, and neither have I been able to find books with these titles with Erickson’s illustrations. If you can provide any evidence of what these illustrations were for, I would be delighted to hear from you.


Finding the books: Black Penny can be pricey as a hardback but is cheap in paperback. Wildwing is easy to find, and generally not expensive. Neither was published in the UK. Black Beauty was published in the UK, and her version is reasonably easy to find, and not generally expensive.


Links and sources

National Library of Congress

Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987

Phoebe Erickson’s papers are in the Univeresity of Minnesota

Thank you to Christina Wilsdon for the photograph of Black Beauty










Bibliography - horse books only

Black Penny

Knopf, New York, 1951, 183 pp, illus the author

Knopf, New York, 1979, pb


Emmy, a Swedish immigrant, knows that the colt Black Penny will have to be sold when he is two,
but she puts her all into raising him, just hoping he will not be sold to Gloria and Roderick, their
new neighbours. Neither of them are gems.

Black Beauty
Random House, New York, 1949, 62 pp

Purnell, London, 1949

Publicity Book Services, London, 1953


Illustrated by Phoebe Erickson and adapted by Eleanor Vance

Wildwing
Harper Row, New York, 1959, 179 pp, illus the author

Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club Edition, 1960


Bronze Feather rescues a buckskin foal which was orphaned by horse hunters. However the foal,
which is named Wildwing, pines for the freedom he once knew, and Bronze Feather has a difficult
decision to make over whose needs come first.