Walter Farley

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Walter Farley 1915–

American young adult novelist.

Since 1941, when The Black Stallion first appeared, horse lovers have looked to Farley's novels for authentic, exciting equine adventures. Horses have been a lifelong obsession for Farley, and his years of association with them as a horse owner and breeder give his stories an authority few other animal stories can match. The Black and his offspring have figured in over a dozen of Farley's books, although he has written about other horses and about dogs. Although his books were immediately popular with readers, he did not receive serious critical attention until somewhat later. The major criticism leveled against his work is that his characterizations of humans are usually very sketchy, providing only enough background to make the events involving the horses credible. Yet with his more recent chronicles of the Black's family this criticism has lost validity, since he has begun to develop some of the regular characters, especially Alec Ramsay, the Black's master, in greater depth. Farley's infectious devotion to his subject appears to compensate for the technical flaws in his writing and explains his large, steady following among young adult readers. Farley's audience has further increased due to the well-received film adaptation of The Black Stallion. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol.2.)

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May Lamberton Becker