Walter Farley was born on June 26, 1914 in Syracuse, New York. His love for horses began when he was a small boy and continued as he grew up in New York City, where his family moved. Young Walter never owned a horse. But unlike most city children, he had little trouble gaining firsthand experience with horses—his uncle was a professional horseman, and Walter spent much of his time at the stables with him.
Walter Farley began to write his first book, The Black Stallion, while he was a student at Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School and Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, and finished it while he was an undergraduate at Columbia University. It was published by Random House when he was 26. He used his first advance to go traveling and after that hardly stopped longer than it took him to write another book. He traveled and lived in Mexico, Hawaii, the South Seas, most of the South American countries, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe.
In 1940, an editor told him, "Don't figure on making any money writing children's books." Farley disagreed. The appearance of The Black Stallion in 1941 was hailed by enthusiastic boys and girls all over the country. An avalanche of mail urged Mr. Farley to write more about Alec Ramsey and the Black, but World War II intervened. Mr. Farley went into the US Army, where he spent the next five years. Most of the time he was assigned to Yank, the army weekly magazine, and he was also trained in the Fourth Armored Division.
After the war, Walter Farley resumed the adventures of Alec and the Black with The Black Stallion Returns. This was followed by several sequels as well as books about other boys and horses. Children of all ages find his books easy to enjoy, since many of them were written for his own children when they were too young to read them. Older readers and adults have been gripped by his fictionalized biography of America's greatest Thoroughbred, Man O'War. Walter Farley's titles reached a grand total of 34 and his books have been published abroad in more than 20 countries.
Mr. Farley and his wife Rosemary had four children: Pam, Alice, Steve, and Tim, whom they raised on a farm in Pennsylvania and in a beach house in Florida. Mr. Farley died in October 1989, shortly before the publication of the twenty-first book in the Black Stallion series, The Young Black Stallion, written with his son Steve, who continues the series.
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