Robin McKinley was born in 1952 in Ohio, but grew up all over the world as her father moved from country to country as a United States Navy officer. McKinley was educated at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania in 1970–1972 and Bowdoin College in Maine. She worked in a bookshop, during which she wrote her first novel. Beauty, like several which followed it, is a development of a classic fairy tale. Her highest achievements have been with fantasy: her book The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal in 1984.
She rides (in the next village is “a paragon among horses”), and several of her books concern horses, more or less directly. An early essay into adaptation saw her abridge the equine classic Black Beauty. Two of her fantasy novels have a strong horse element: The Hero and the Crown and Pegasus.
She now lives in England with her husband, the brilliant author Peter Dickinson, and the pair have collaborated on some collections of stories.
Finding the books
Black Beauty appears to be out of print, but is easy to find. The other titles are in print.
Bibliography (horse books only)
adapted by Robin McKinley, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Random House, New York, 1986, 68 pp.
An abridged version of the classic horse story.
The Hero and the Crown
Greenwillow Books, New York, 1985, 246 pp
Macrae, Lonsdon 1985, 246 pp
Futura, London, 1986
Ace Books, New York, 1987 & 2007, 292 pp
Aerin is the daughter of the king, but also of a witchwoman. There is no place in the country for her, so she makes a friend of her father’s crippled war horse, Talat. She persuades her cousin to teach her how to fight with a sword, and most importantly, she finds the old recipe for making kenet, which is proof against dragonfire. When Maur, the Black Dragon threatens, there is only one
person who can help when the army is at the other side of the country.
G P Putnam, New York, 2010, 404 pp
Puffin, London, 2011, 404 pp
There is a thousand year old alliance between humans and flying horses. On her 12th birthday, Princess Sylviianel is bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, when she is 12. The two species can only communicate through Speaker magicians: all that is apart from Sylviianel and Ebon. They can communicate directly with each other, and they grow so close that their bond is seen as a threat to both species.