In June of 2021, I stumbled across a signed, first edition of Misty of Chincoteague on Etsy. The note from author Marguerite Henry was made out to "Susan, with happy wishes from Misty and Marguerite Henry."
Susan, that's a book autographed just for me!
This special copy of Misty of Chincoteague was listed for $350, and that seemed like a steep price tag. I did the math based on how many riding lessons I could have for that dollar amount, and thought about how I could buy a plane ticket for a sunny destination for $350.
I snapped a screenshot and shared this Marguerite Henry treasure in an Instagram story on my Saddle Seeks Horse account, asking my fellow horse lovers whether or not I should buy this copy, even though it was expensive, even though I already had at least one copy of this beloved horse book by my favorite author.
My fellow horse-centric friends on Instagram (should I say "pushers") overwhelmingly responded with, "Yes!" The peer pressure to buy the book was real. Horse Crazy author Sarah Maslin Nir said yes, even my fiscally conservative sister said yes. When I saw her response, I had no doubt in my mind I needed this special autographed copy of Misty. I held my breath and submitted my credit card numbers and the deed was done.
Several days later the precious kids horse book arrived in the mail. I took a photograph of the title page and shared it in a Facebook group for middle age horsewomen. Within 48 hours, that post had over 2,000 likes! And it garnered over 200 comments, many of the women shared tender memories of writing fan mail to Marguerite Henry or visiting Chincoteague Island or even adopting a Chincoteague pony. One woman said she went to Chincoteague for her honeymoon! All because of Marguerite Henry's classic horse book.
It was then I realized how much love still existed for Marguerite and Misty, and I decided that would be a fascinating topic to explore. I had just moved back to Illinois and lived about a half hour from where Marguerite and Misty lived at Mole Meadow. I began asking around at my barn, trying to find out if there were people who knew people who knew Marguerite. I learned the world is small and the horse world smaller, and connected with many people who Marguerite had befriended during the heyday of her author career.
When I found the woman who as a little girl had been the first one to ride Misty, and chatted with her on the phone, she exclaimed, "I loved Marguerite Henry!" And as I continued to meet people online and in person, that was the common refrain.
At first I thought I could write a lovely blog post about my favorite author of horse books, but then I realized I had enough content for a horse book! I decided to write a bibliomemoir, in the style of Julia and Julia. Instead of French cuisine, I would center my book on how my equestrian life and passion for horse books has intersected with a timeless author's. I figured by digging into her history, and discovering her writing practices, it would make me a stronger writer too.
What I didn't count on was the wonderful friendships I would form with fellow Marguerite Henry fans. And I never would have guessed I would travel to Chincoteague twice in the course of four months: once for Pony Penning and another time to stay in the room at Miss Molly's Inn where Marguerite penned a story of a famous golden pony.
I'm excited about my upcoming book Marguerite, Misty and Me. It's time for this talented writer to finally have her backstory shared with the world.