Hoffman, Eleanor

About the author

Eleanor Hoffman was a reasonably prolific author. She was born in Belmont, Massachusetts to achieving parents; her father was Ralph Hoffman, a well known naturalist and ornithologist, author of A Guide to the Birds of New England and Eastern New York (1904), the first field guide to focus on everything necessary to identify a bird: field marks, behaviour, habitat, call notes and songs. Eleanor Hoffman’s mother was Gertrude Wesselhoeft Hoffman, a German-born actress whose Hollywood career was notable for starting when she was 60.

Eleanor Hoffman was educated at Radcliffe College, and also took courses at Massachusetts Agricultural College. After a spell teaching at the Hampton Institute, she travelled, at one time living in Moroccan Fez. She set several of her children’s books in Arab countries, including White Mare of the Black Tents, a story about an Arabian horse and its boy owner. She moved back to California, which became the setting for later books, mostly ranch stories. I suspect she may well have written more horse books than I have been able to trace so far.

Finding the books
The Tall Stallion is very hard to find. As it is illustrated by Paul Brown, it will be expensive. Summer at Horseshoe Ranch and Trouble at Sweet Spring Ranch are also very difficult to find. The White Mare of the Black Tents is not particularly common; Sierra Sally is findable, as is Melika. Son of the Black Tents, the UK printing of White Mare of the Black Tents, is findable in the UK. No other title had a UK publication.

Links and sources
Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
Dustjacket of Trouble at Sweet Springs Ranch
The Hoffman Bird Club
Gertrude Wesselhoeft Hoffman on IMDB
Many thanks to Lisa Catz and Alison MacCallum for the photographs and information.

Bibliography (horse books only)

Melika and Her Donkey

Frederick A Stokes Company, New York, 1937, 195 pp

Sierra Sally

Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York, 1944, 139 pp, illus Louis Lundeen

Sally is a cowpony, but she hates cows. Sally wants to explore. She wants to be a pack horse, or trail horse. She fights her breaking-in, knowing that in the end she will be forced to work cows. She gets her chance for excitement when she helps fight a canyon fire. After the fire, Sally and her rider, Red, are heroes, and Sally’s owner gives her to Red. Sally’s dream comes true as Red takes her
to his home in the Sierras. Again she proves her worth, when she comes to Red’s aid in an

White Mare of the Black Tents

Dodd, Mead, New York, 1949, 214 pp.

As Son of the Black Tents, Hutchinson, London, 1959, 160 pp

Young Omar is desperate to ride with the raiding party on his white war mare Bayeeda. However, the mare is captured, and Omar is threatened with having to betray his King in order to get the mare back.

The Tall Stallion

Dodd, Mead, New York, 1950, illus Paul Brown, 180 pp.

Tom and Bess live on the California Rancho Cabrillo, where their father is the foreman. When the ranch is sold, though their father will remain in charge of the prize Hereford cattle, the cattle will take second place to the breeding and training of thoroughbred show horses. The children are initially unhappy, but Copper, the handsome stallion, three lovely mares, and their friendly trainer, Fred, begin to change their minds. When the ranch is in a financial crisis, the children secretly train the horses to be good cattle horses as well as show horses to make them more useful.

Trouble at Sweet Springs Ranch

Dodd, Mead, New York, 1954, 237 pp, illus Algot Stenbery

Summer at Horseshoe Ranch

Dodd, Mead, New York, 1957, 306 pp

Karen sells her favourite mare, a palomino called Star Dust to Jack. She thinks Jack is the right owner, but little does she know that city girl Patsey will distract Jack so much he forgets about the horse.

Short stories

American Girl Book of Horse Stories

Illus Sam Savitt

Fiesta Parade by Eleanor Hoffman