Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Famous American author best known for the classics of American literature
Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain was his pen name. He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He worked as a printer, river boat pilot and gold miner, before turning to journalism. Writing was soon to prove his forte, with his short humourous pieces, his travelogues and later his novels all becoming extremely popular and successful.

It is a perhaps less well known fact that he wrote a horse story, a tale set in America and Spain in the late 19th century, partly told by the horse himself. The book is something of an exploration of man's cruelty to animals, a cause which Twain first took to heart in his similar work,
A Dog's Tale. A Horse's Tale was the result of an actress friend, Minnie Madden Fiske, asking him to help support her stand against bull fighting. It was not surprising that the author added this cause to his many others: Twain was also an abolitionist and proponent of women's rights. The book is at times an interesting and humourous read but this is tempered by some highly unpleasant (if short) sections and cannot be recommended to anyone who is easily upset. The book can be read on-line for free.

Despite Twain's success and literary standing, he was not so skilful with money as with the pen, and became bankrupt!

There is plenty of information to be found on Mark Twain on-line and elsewhere so I am not going to go into any more detail about the author or his works here.

Pony Books (Adult Fiction):

Originally published in 2 parts in
Harper's Magazine in 1906.
The full book version was published in 1907.
Reprinted a number of times.
In print at the moment in paperback.
SUMMARY: WARNING: Contains some distressing content. Short adult novella partly told from the horse's viewpoint, partly by letters or conversations from various human characters to one another. Soldier Boy is a handsome black horse, somewhat famous amongst other horses as he is the steed of 'Buffalo Bill' William Cody who is at the time of the story is working as a scout for the American army. When Cathy, the half Spanish 9 year orphaned niece of the Fort's general is sent to stay with him, she soon becomes a favourite of all the soldiers for her happy and loving ways. She is befriended by Buffalo Bill who teachers her to ride on Soldier Boy. Soon girl and horse are in love and she is given the horse for her own. But when the General must leave for Spain, Cathy says goodbye to her old friends to visit her homeland, and on their travels Soldier Boy is stolen. Cathy is distraught and Soldier Boy goes through a succession of bad homes. Then in Spain, the pair are re-united, but at what cost?
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Collector's Info:
As is expected of the work of an author of such repute, the book has been reprinted many times and is still in print and is easy to find in the UK, the USA and elsewhere. As it is out of copyright and in the public domain, it can also be read on-line for free. First editions are quite pricey, however perhaps not as expensive as one would expect, possibly due to the lesser known status of this book compared to his other more famous works.