Dear Readers and Riders: The Beloved Books, Faithful Fans, and Hidden Private Life of Marguerite Henry

ISBN: 9781646011940
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Release Date: May, 2024

Book Details

The untold story of the favorite children’s book author, featuring original artwork by Wesley Dennis from some of Henry’s best-known books, as well as over 100 personal photographs, letters, and artifacts.

In certain circles, her name inspires immediate recognition and pronouncements of a committed admiration that has likely spanned decades. As an author, Marguerite Henry was indeed remarkably prolific, with 59 books published, millions of copies sold, and nearly 80 years of her life spent writing them—or responding personally to the stacks of fan mail she received—at her typewriter. Her books, most meticulously researched historical fiction about influential horses and the hosts of fascinating characters who surrounded them—to name just a few, her Newbery Award winner King of the Wind, the book that changed an island Misty of Chincoteague, and the glowingly reviewed Justin Morgan Had a Horse—have had an outsized influence on those who grew up reading them, ultimately leading to writing careers, lives dedicated to riding and caring for horses and other animals, and even fan memoirs describing Henry’s impact.

But despite a professional existence that became profoundly public, particularly after Misty of Chincoteague, published in 1947, became a bestseller and eventually a popular feature film in 1961, Henry’s own life was mostly shielded from view.

With particular purpose to uncover what is little known about the author, as well as superb instincts for illustrating fascinating details that help readers construct the settings in which Henry’s creative mind, intensive historical and scholarly research, and storytelling ability matured and evolved, accomplished journalist and author Lettie Teague has provided a unique biography that is as much a pleasure to read as her subject’s own books. Highlighting over a dozen titles that represent, to Teague, not only the best of Marguerite Henry’s work but help tell the story of Marguerite Henry herself, and following the trail of some of her remarkable collaborators—most importantly, the charismatic and talented artist Wesley Dennis—Teague gives Henry fans what they always strived for through their thousands of letters: personal connection.

Perhaps what Henry would deem less important, but becomes more and more valid as time passes, is Teague’s desire for the author’s legacy to live on. Many of Marguerite Henry’s books are still very much in print, but as time passes, fewer will remember once writing her fan letters, or perhaps think of the author at all. In these pages, Teague ensures that Marguerite Henry the writer will always be considered as every bit as remarkable as the books that she wrote. Featuring original artwork by Wesley Dennis from some of Henry’s best-known books, as well as over 100 personal photographs, letters, and artifacts few have seen, this is a warm and wonderful biography for bibliophiles, horse lovers, aspiring writers, and Marguerite Henry fans, young and old.

By Lettie Teague

Lettie Teague has been The Wall Street Journal’s wine columnist since 2010. Before joining the Journal, Teague was the executive wine editor and columnist for Food & Wine magazine. She is the author of two books, Wine in Words and Educating Peter, and co-author and illustrator of Fear of Wine. Her writing has won three James Beard Awards, including the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. More importantly, Teague has been a fan of bestselling children’s book author Marguerite Henry since she was nine years old. A horsewoman as well as an oenophile, Teague’s first horseback ride took place around the same time as her first Marguerite Henry book (Born to Trot) and she, like Henry, grew up in the Midwest aspiring to be a writer. “Perhaps that’s the biggest reason why I want to tell Marguerite’s story,” says Teague. “I feel like so many of the same things have shaped our lives.” Teague is currently based in New Jersey, which she proudly notes happens to have one of the highest horse populations in America. As Teague points out, it may be called the “Garden State” but it might as well be entitled “The Horsiest State.” (Teague is working on this as a proposed license plate.)

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