Henry, Marguerite

About the author

Marguerite Henry (1902–97) had a very restricted childhood, being confined to bed from the ages of six to twelve because of rheumatic fever. She recovered to some extent, and went on to write over 50 books about the animals that fascinated her: dogs and foxes as well as horses, but it is for her horse books that she is best known. Her Misty series, based on incidents that happened to her and her husband on the island of Chincoteague, where they lived, made the Chincoteague Pony famous.

Misty of Chincoteague was not her first book. It came about after Henry had already written Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1945) and Little Fellow (1945). Henry’s editor went to the Pony Penning on Chincoteague herself, and suggested Marguerite write about it. When Henry visited Chincoteague, she met the Beebe family, who feature in the books.

Her books were well received; she won the Newbery Prize in 1945 for Justin Morgan Had a Horse, and in 1948 for Misty of Chincoteague.

Henry’s historical books are excellent. She wrote about the genesis of the Morgan (Justin Morgan Had A Horse) and the Thoroughbred (King of the Wind). This historical perspective is rare in pony books, and it is a combination that can deliver rich historical detail, but flat characters. The Pullein-Thompson’s Black Beauty’s Family series, though meticulously researched, does not have the immediacy of their other books. Marguerite Henry’s horses are “objectively portrayed but with character” (James E Higgins) and her humans are vivid too. Her books are undoubtedly romantic; there does not seem to be any evidence of Sham’s career as a bakery horse, and his ownership in England isn’t quite as depicted in the books, but they are excellent stories, and she has a knack of making the past seem immediate and involving.

Marguerite Henry was well served by her illustrator. The Misty books, and many of her others, were beautifully illustrated by Wesley Dennis. Sadly most of the paperback versions have lost the Dennis covers, though some, like the 1970s English Armada reprints, did keep the internal illustrations.

Finding the books

The books are mostly easy to find in the USA. If you want the original hardbacks, try and go for first or early editions, or check that the one you’re buying has the colour plates. The early editions have colour plates and colour endpapers but later ones were done in black and white. I spent an anxious few days after I bought my own King of the Wind waiting for it to cross the Atlantic, as I bought it before I found about the early editions, but all was well, and it is the most lovely book.

Some titles were published in the UK in hardback, and they do sometimes turn up. The Armada paperbacks are a bit easier to find. Importing any of the books from the USA is these days, alas, expensive.

Links and sources
Thank you to the late Fran Fignar, who provided all the summaries and much else besides. Thanks to to Christina Wilsdon for pictures.
J Murray: Marguerite Henry (site no longer accessible)
Contemporary Authors, ed Chevalier, 1989, 3rd edn, Marguerite Henry – James E Higgins
This site has some pictures of the original Misty.
The Godolphin Arabian: history
The Morgan Horse Society: history
King of the Wind – the film

Series

Misty
Misty of Chincoteague
Stormy, Misty’s Foal
Sea Star
Misty’s Twilight

Rear cover of A Pictorial History of Misty

Bibliography (horse books only)


Justin Morgan Had a Horse

1945, Chicago, Wilcox & Follett, illus Wesley Dennis
Rand McNally, 1954, illus Wesley Dennis

Singing teacher, Justin Morgan, took a nondescript colt as part payment of a debt owed to him. Little Bub became the foundation sire of the Morgan horse breed. The unlikely colt proved to be a faster trotter, stronger draft horse and faster race horse than anything matched against him, despite his small size of only about 14 hands. All his foals resembled him no matter what
they were bred from.

The Little Fellow

1945, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, illus Diana Thorne
Rand, McNally & Company, New York, 1973, illus Rich Rudish
Reprinted in paperback

Now considered politically incorrect because of its stereotypical use of ‘negro’ slang. It’s
the story of Chip, a thoroughbred foal, who is the pet of the family until Strawberry, a younger foal, is born. Jealous of Strawberry, Chip eventually learns they really can be good friends when he has to rely on the young Strawberry to help him swat flies.

Misty of Chincoteague

Rand McNally & Company, NY, 1947, illustrated by Wesley Dennis
Rand McNally & Company, NY., n.d., BCE, 157 pp. Illus Don Bolognese
Collins, London, 1961, illus Wesley Dennis, 173 pp.
Reprinted in pb by Armada, London in pb 1968, 1970, 1971, 1977

The Beebe children, Paul and Maureen long for a pony of their own. They follow the wild mare Phantom, who has a foal, Misty. They rescue Phantom but have to let her go when she cannot settle. Misty, however, becomes the foundation of a line of ponies kept by the Beebes.

King of the Wind

Rand McNally & Company, 1948, illus Wesley Dennis
Constable & Co, 1957, illus Sheila Rose
Collins, London, 1968, illus Wesley Dennis
Armada, London, pb, 1971, illus Wesley Dennis

This is the story of the Godolphin Arabian, Sham, one of the foundation stallions of the Thoroughbred. It takes him from his difficult birth in Tunisia through to his eventual acceptance as an exceptional stallion,
accompanied throughout by his horseboy, Agba.

Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1949, illus Wesley Dennis
Collins, London, 1968, illus Wesley Dennis
Armada Lions, London, 1972, 1976

Misty is shipped away from Chincoteague and Paul and Maureen struggle to raise the young orphan Sea Star. Too young to eat on his own, they work to find a nurse mare for the baby. They succeed and Sea Star and his new mother join the Beebe family.

Born to Trot

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1950, illus Wesley Dennis

Gibson White wants badly to follow in his father’s footsteps as a trainer and driver of racing Standardbreds (Benjamin White won The Hambletonian four times) but unfortunately, is taken ill. While he is ill, the filly, Rosalind is born. Ben gives the filly to his son hoping that following her growth and training will help him recover. Rosalind becomes a great race mare, setting the
trotting record of 1:56 3/4 for a mile and 1:58 1/4 in double harness with the champion trotter, Greyhound. She was also a successful brood mare when retired from racing.

Album of Horses

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1951, 112pp, illus Wesley Dennis

A book of horse facts and stories, and of course, wonderful pictures.

Brighty of the Grand Canyon

Rand McNally & Company, Chicago, 1953, illus Wesley Dennis
Collins, London, 1970, illus Wesley Dennis

Brighty was a wild burro living in the Grand Canyon of Arizona, “tamed” by an old prospector when he found the burro in bad shape after a run in with a porcupine. When the old timer suddenly disappears, the sheriff and Uncle Jimmy Owen, a lion hunter, suspect foul play. Through the following years, Brighty splits his time between living in the Grand Canyon during the cold winters and journeying up to Uncle Jimmy’s ranch during the summers.

Misty the Wonder Pony

Rand McNally & Company, Chicago, 1956, 28pp. Illus Clare McKinley

A version of Misty for the younger reader.

Black Gold

Rand McNally & Company, Chicago, 1957, illus Wesley Dennis

This is an account of Black Gold, who won the 1924 Kentucky Derby. His mother, U-See-It,
was banned from racing. Black Gold’s own racing career ended with a hoof injury.

Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1960
Collins, London, 1970, illus Lynd Ward
Republished as The Wildest Horse Race in the World
Republished as Palio, Fontana pb, London,1976

Gaudenzia, a grey half-Arabian mare, and Giorgio Terni, a boy from the Maremma marshes in Italy enter the Palio. Giorgio was one of these riders and rode Gaudenzia to victory as well as having to race against her in another Palio race as rider for a different contrada.

All About Horses

Random House, New York, 1962, illus Wesley Dennis and with photographs
WH Allen, 1963

Five O’Clock Charlie

Rand McNally & Company, NY, 1962, not paginated, illus Wesley Dennis
Collins, London,1963, illus Wesley Dennis

Charlie is a English work horse, a Suffolk Punch cross. He and his master always go to
the Boar’s Head Inn at five o’clock when work is done and Charlie gets an apple tart treat
from Birdie, the cook, while his master goes in for refreshment. When Charlie is retired, he
dearly misses his daily treat and solves the problem by knocking down a fence rail and
taking himself to the Boar’s Head every day at five o’clock, becoming a regular scene in
the village.

Portfolio of Horses

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1952, illus Wesley Dennis with 23 colour plates

A collection of 23 loose colour plates, together with a commentary.

Stormy, Misty’s Foal

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1963, illus Wesley Dennis
Collins, London, 1965, illus Wesley Dennis
Armada, London, pb, 1968, 1972

When a hurricane struck in the 60’s, both Chincoteague and Assateague were evacuated. Grandpa Beebe brought them into the barn on top of their hay pile and put Misty, now in foal, inside their house and hoped for the best. The Beebe ponies survived and Misty foaled safely but many of the Assateague herd perished in the storm.

White Stallion of Lipizza

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1964, illus Wesley Dennis
Blackie, London, 1976, illus Wesley Dennis

This is the story of the Spanish Riding School’s famous stallion, Maestoso Borina, who teaches a young rider, Hans, from a beginning rider to performing beireter. Borina was a real horse but Hans was developed from numerous young riders who had been under the tutelage of Alois Podhajsky.

Mustang, Wild Spirit of  the West

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1966, illus Robert Lougheed
Collins, London,1968, illus Robert Lougheed

Wild Horse Annie overcame polio in her youth, and grew up in the west loving the wild horses which roamed free. However, many ranchers resented the wild horses which grazed feed they felt was needed for cattle and rounded up the wild herds for slaughter. Annie followed a truck load of wild horses dripping blood, and began a campaign to stop the slaughter of the wild mustangs. The publicity she created eventually brought about a Bill to protect the free roaming wild horses from slaughter and provide a refuge for them. 

Dear Readers and Riders

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1969
Republished as Dear Marguerite Henry

A collection of letters to Marguerite Henry and her answers to readers asking questions about all of her books which had been published up to this time. It’s a fascinating collection of background facts. There are pictures of the real Misty, the real Brighty, her Morgan horse, Friday, Gibson White and Rosalind, the real Gaudenzia, the actors from the MISTY movie, Wild Horse Annie and much more.

San Domingo, Medicine Hat Stallion

Rand McNally, Chicago, 1972
Collins, London, 1975 and 1977, illus Robert Lougheed
Republished as Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion

A story of  early life on the American prairie. Peter Lundy is the son of Jethro Lundy, a trader. Jethro has  an Indian pony with the rare medicine hat markings, which has a similarly marked foal which Peter names San Domingo. The mare was stolen from Indians, and Peter trades with the chief to keep the foal. Tragedy strikes when Peter and San Domingo have to join the Pony Express.

A Pictorial History of Misty

Rand McNally & Company, NY., 1976, 140 pp., illus Wesley Dennis

This is a pictorial story of Misty: her life with Marguerite Henry, her promotional tours for the movie, her return to the Beebes and her many foals, grandfoals and great grandfoals. There are photos of the final “life” of Misty, stuffed and exhibited on the Beebe farm and many photos of her children. Interestingly, there are a few photos of Sunshine, the dam of Misty’s Twilight.

One Man’s Horse

Rand McNally & Company, NY, 1950 & 1977, 103 pp, illus Wesley Dennis

This story was originally included within the story of  Born to Trot. Marguerite Henry later brought it out as this separate book and added a final chapter on the history of the Standardbred breed and the growth of harness racing. It has many portraits of famous Standardbreds including many
of George Ford Morris’ works – a highly collectible artist.

Our First Pony

Rand McNally & Company, NY., 1984, n.p., illus Rich Rudish

Justin and Joey Franklin, twin boys, live on a farm but they want a pony. They are offered a
piebald pony called Midge, who, it turns out, is in foal to a Welsh pony stallion. The boys care for Midge until she foals one night presenting them with twin pintos. Unfortunately, one baby is a runt and is too weak to nurse so the boys work with the vet to save Teeny, the foal, while Midge cares for Friday, the stronger foal. Of course, with much care, they are successful.

Misty’s Twilight

Macmillan Publishing Company, NY, 1992, 143 pp, illus Karen haus Grandpré

Dr Sandy Price visits what’s left of the Beebe farm and sees many of Misty’s descendants.
She buys a pony called Sunshine, which produces a pinto filly which Sandy names Misty’s Twilight. When Sandy tries to place the horse with a prominent trainer as a cutting horse, she runs into discrimination as Chincoteague ponies (and pintos) aren’t supposed to be able to compete against quarter horses. Twilight is then trained as a jumper, and then as a dressage pony. She goes on to win the American Horse Shows Association Zone IV award as well as the Pinto Horse Association All-Breed Award. A remarkable pony!

Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, NY, 1996, 79 pp, illus Bonnie Shields

Molly loves horses. When her father takes her to a horse sale she is thrilled, but they can
only afford an old mare, Lady Sue, who then produces a mule foal. Brown Sunshine proves
to be an exceptional mule and is chosen as the King Mule in the Tennessee State contest.

The Illustrated Marguerite Henry

Rand McNally & Company, NY, 1980, 128 pp, illus Wesley Dennis, Robert Lougheed, Lynd Ward and Rich Rudish. 

A factual book with data on the four major artists who illustrated Marguerite Henry’s books. The major portion covers Wesley Dennis but there’s lots of background on the other three as well and reproductions of black & white and colour illustrations from the various books they illustrated. The format is slightly larger than the usual Marguerite Henry hard cover editions.  

The misty treasury

Macmillan, 1982
Simon & Shuster, 2004

Contains:

Misty of Chincoteague
Stormy, Misty’s Foal
King of the Wind

OTHER BOOKS

Misty Makes a Movie

Rand McNally & Company with 20th Century Fox, 1961, n.p.
This is a Little Golden Book, and is based on the Marguerite Henry MISTY book. Author not stated. It is the story of the 20th Century Fox film MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE with colour photo illustrations from the movie. An interesting collectible.

1993 Album of Horses: A Pop-Up Book

OTHER BOOKS – non horse

1940 Auno and Tauno: A Story of Finland
1940 Dilly Dally Sally (illustrated by Gladys Rourke Blackwood)
1941 Alaska in Story and Pictures
1941 Canada in Story and Pictures
1941 Mexico in Story and Pictures
1941 West Indies in Story and Pictures
1942 Birds at Home
1942 Geraldine Belinda
1943 Their First Igloo On Baffin Island
1943 Argentina in Story and Pictures
1943 Brazil in Story and Pictures
1943 Chile in Story and Pictures
1943 Panama in Story and Pictures
1946 Australia in Story and Pictures
1944 A Boy and a Dog 1945 Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman
1946 Bermuda in Story and Pictures
1946 British Honduras in Story and Pictures
1946 Dominican Republic in Story and Pictures
1946 Hawaii in Story and Pictures (illustrated by Kurt Weise)
1946 New Zealand in Story and Pictures
1946 Virgin Islands in Story and Pictures
1947 Always Reddy (also published as Shamrock Queen)
1947 Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin (illustrated by Wesley Dennis)
1949 Little-or-Nothing from Nottingham
1955 Wagging Tails: Album of Dogs
1956 Cinnabar, the One O’Clock Fox (illustrated by Wesley Dennis)
1959 Muley-Ears, Nobody’s Dog (illustrated by Wesley Dennis)
1971 Stories from Around the World