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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Anniversary of Marguerite Henry's Birth - April 13, 1902

Today is the 109th anniversary of the birth of Marguerite Henry

Marguerite Henry (April 13, 1902 – November 26, 1997)
In an era gone past few could hear the phrase "horse story" and not think of Marguerite Henry.  By the time I knew her, she was already moving from her acreage at Mole Meadow in Wayne, Illinois to her retirement home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, where she lived out the rest of her life.
Marguerite Breithaupt was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  During her childhood her three older sisters and one brother doted on her.  Her childhood was spent in a lively household.  Birthdays and holidays were occasions for the reading of original poems, and participation in home written and produced plays.
Her father's print shop yielded a treasure of big fat tablets and bundles of pencils that wrote in big black swathes.
Her family had one horse, Bonnie.  Since Bonnie had a habit of biting Marguerite's older brother, Fred, in the breeches, Bonnie was sold without Marguerite every really knowing her.
Printer's ink got in her blood when her father would allow Marguerite to read proof in his small printing shop in Milwaukee.  The treasure of large pads of paper and thick bundles of pencils were a joy to her.
As the fourth child in the family of Louis and Anna Breithaupt, she already had a grown sister, Maria, who made her embroidered dresses, with a sash of her favorite blue.  Elsie, a young nurse taught Marguerite the doorknob method of pulling teeth.  Fred, her grown brother would hold her hand and run with Marguerite until she flew through space.  Gertrude was nearest her age and became her confidant.  Gertrude's advice was sought with each book Marguerite Henry wrote.  Henry often commented, "Editors could be wrong but not Gertrude."
Soon after graduating from a Milwaukee Teacher's College Marguerite meet an married Sidney Crocker Henry.  They settled into an apartment in Chicago and she began writing for The Nation's Business and Saturday Evening Post.  And her writing career had begun. 
When she died at age 95 she was best known for her Misty of Chincoteague, and her Newbery Award winning King of the Wind
My complete files of Marguerite Henry are available at the Sharron L. McElmeel collection, as part of the larger Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota.  Included are copies of the newsletters she published during the 1970s??.  There are many questions and answers regarding her work.
Sharron McElmeel

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