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Juvenile Books Author of the Month
Walter Farley
Walter Farley
26 June 1922 -- ???

Walter Lorimer Farley was born on June 26, 1915 in Syracuse, New York to Walter and Isabelle (Vermilyea) Farley. He grew up in Manhattan, where his father worked as an assistant manager of the Hotel Roosevelt. Farley was fond of New York City because of its year-round opportunities for sports and other activities.

Looking back on his childhood, Farley states,"It was a great place for kids in those days and perhaps still is, providing kids take advantage of what is there. Like most kids, I was very interested in sports and was able to play tennis, ride, run, and ice skate most of the year. And there were plenty of horses -- in Central Park, Squadron A with its indoor polo, Long Island, Connecticut, and Westchester trails, and the race tracks at Belmont, Jamaica, and Aqueduct where I spent many, many days." [2]

As it can easily be imagined after reading his these words, Farley's greatest childhood dream was to own a horse. Living in New York City, it was something that he could never attain. However, between his adventures riding horses at various nearby stables and by using his literary creativity, he found happiness. He wrote stories of horses that combined his own personal experiences with with those of his uncle, who was a noted horse trainer.

Farley commuted by subway to Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. There were a number of high schools closer to the Farley home, but Erasmus was well known for its track team. During his high school years, Farley continued writing. One of the reasons so many of his stories focused on horses was that there were so few books available for youngsters. Farley was very fond of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and Wil James' Smoky the Cow Horse, but it just wasn't enough.

In 1931, Farley began attending Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, where he participated in track. He continued to write stories for children as he had since he was 11 years old. After graduating in 1935, Farley attended Columbia University until 1941. With the help of one of his English professors, he put the finishing touches on The Black Stallion, which was published in 1951.

Upon gradutating from Columbia University, Farley found a position as an advertising copywriter at Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osborn, an advertising firm in New York.

Like many Americans, Farley found himself in the military at the start of World War II. He served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1946. For most of that period, Farley was assigned as a staff member at Yank, an army weekly magazine. He also served in a tank as part of the Fourth Armored Division.

It was during the war that Farley met and married Rosemary Lutz. They were married on May 26, 1945. In 1946, Farley was discharged from the army. The Farleys took an opportunity at that point to travel widely. They also established a farm in Earlville, Pennsylvania in order to breed horses. In effect, Farley devoted his life to writing about horses and raising them.

Besides the farm in Pennsylvania, Farley and his family also spent part of each year in Florida. The Farley family quickly grew as Rosemary and Walter had four children: Pamela, Alice, Steve, and Tim. One of his daughters passed away in the 1980's.

Farley writes most of his books from a small office in his Florida home, which overlooks the water. "It's good for my eyes to look up from the typewriter to the horizon. There's been lots of close work through the years. And I love the water. We have a small Boston whaler and a thirty-four-foot Rhodes-designed sloop. We sail a lot, race a little, and skin dive as much as possible ... I also do lots of riding, mostly on Arabians." [2]

In 1962, Rosemary and Walter Farley organized a group which formed the Friends of the Library of the Venice Area with the purpose of establishing a free public library. The Venice Public Library opened in 1965 and has become one of the busiest libraries in the Sarasota County area.

Farley has authored 34 books that have been read by three generations of children. These books have been published in 22 coutries and in several languages. The Black Stallion series has also been transformed into a successful series of movies by American producer Francis Ford Coppola starting in 1979. Farley's literary contributions have become some of the most influential and inspirational books that have been enjoyed by young readers from around the world.

Information for this bio raphy was taken from:
1)Tracy Chevalier (ed.). Twentieth Century Children's Writers; Saint James Press: Chicago, 1989.
2) Anne Commire (ed.). Contemporary Authors, #43; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1986.
3) The Venice Public Library: Walter Farley Literary Landmark; http://www.venice-florida.com/Community/Education/farley.htm

Fiction Titles
E-ABC-Farley Little Black, a Pony (1961) -- When a small boy graduates from his little pony to a big horse, the pony is sad until the time comes when he is able to do something the big horse cannot do.

J-FAR The Black Stallion (1969) -- Alec Ramsay first saw the Black Stallion when his ship docked at a small Arabian port on the Red Sea. Little did he know that the magnificent horse was destined to play an important part in his young life.

J-FAR The Black Stallion and Flame (1960) -- A plane wreck at sea separates Alec and Black until the search for a rabid vampire bat leads the boy to Flame's island sanctuary.

J-FAR The Black Stallion and the Girl (1971) -- Alec Ramsay has a hard time persuading his partners to retain the girl he hires as a trainer and an even harder time convincing them to let her race the Black Stallion when Alec is suspended as a jockey.

J-FAR The Black Stallion Challenged (1964) -- Alec receives a letter from a boy named Steve, who owns a horse of his own named Flame. Steve believes flame is faster than Black, but only a race between the two of them will prove who is the fastest.

J-FAR The Black Stallion Mystery (1957) -- When three colts that look amazingly like the Black Stallion arrive from Spain, Alec wonders if Black's legendary sire could be alive. Alec will stop at nothing to find out.

J-FAR The Black Stallion Returns (1945) -- A night prowler attempts to destroy Black, leaving behind only a gold medallion on which a large white bird can is embossed. Is this medallion enough to help Alec find Black's attacker?

J-FAR/J-P-FAR The Black Stallion Revolts (1953) -- The Black Stallion is getting short tempered. Henry Daily, his trainer, thinks that Black is out to kill everyone, but Alec knows it is just because he is no longer free and takes Black out to roam the open acres of the West.

J-FAR The Black Stallion's Courage (1956) -- With Henry and Alec needing money to rebuild their barn, the Black Stallion comes out of retirement to run a race against two of the greatest horses of all time.

J-FAR The Black Stallion's Ghost (1969) -- Alec and Black ride off for a relaxing day in the Florida Everglades, but they run into a mysterious man riding a gray mare.

J-FAR The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt (1954) --Bonfire, the Black Stallion's second colt, is frightened and rebellious due to a track accident. Alec and Henry have taken over his training, but there are only two weeks before Bonfire's next big race.

J-FAR The Horse-Tamer (1958) -- Black's trainer Dailey tells the story of how he became a trainer that could cure any horse of biting, kicking, balking and other rebellious actions.

J-FAR The Island Stallion (1948) -- A boy and his archeologist friend spend two weeks on a desolate Caribbean island where they discover a hidden valley, underground tunnels built by Spanish Conquistadors, and a wild flame-colored stallion.

J-FAR The Island Stallion Races (1955) -- Two visitors from another world enter the secret valley of Azul Island and provide Steve with a chance to see how Flame can do in competition with the world's fastest horses.

J-FAR The Island Stallion's Fury (1951) -- Pitch and Steve's secret island valley is discovered and invaded by a vicious man, who is a threat to the island stallion and his band.

J-P-FAR Son of the Black Stallion (1947) -- The Black Stallion's son, Satan, just arrived from Arabia, but he proves to be dangerous and difficult. Alec is determined to win the love and the confidence of this wild beast and turn him into a champion racehorse.

Venice Public Library: Walter Farley Literary Landmark (http://www.venice-florida.com/Community/Education/farley.html) -- The Friends of the Venice Public Library in Florida built this dedication to Walter Farley after his long time support of the library. It inlcudes some interesting biographical information as well as a complete list of all of the author's works.

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