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Florence Hightower

Dark Horse of Woodfield
Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1962, Illus Josh Tolford
Macdonald, London, 1964, 176 pp. Illus A H Eisner

Puffin Books, London, pb, 1973, illus A H Eisner

Set in the 1930s, during the Depression, the Armistead
family is desperately short of money, having lost most of it.
They are still living at Woodfield, but most of their famous
horses have been sold. Maggie wants to enter her mare,
Stardust, in the Unior Hunter Stakes, but she knows she
has to make the entry money herself. The one member of
the Woodfields who wasn’t keen on horses was Great-Uncle Wally, a poet. Maggie thinks she might be able to make money by winning an essay prize, and to her surprise, she finds Great-Uncle Wally has a lot to teach her.

Florence Hightower wrote six children’s books, all loosely based on her life. One was a horse book, describing the exploits of Maggie Armistead as she battles with her family’s chronic shortage of money. Whether Florence Hightower ever experienced the Depression as sharply as Maggie I don’t know; she was born in Boston, grew up in nearby Concord, and graduated from Vassar College in 1937, which suggests there was at least enough money to send her to a good college. She married a Professor of Chinese, J R Hightower, and they spent some time in China. She had four children.

Finding the book: the book is reasonably easy to find in all its printings, though I have noticed the Puffin paperback is getting more expensive now.

Links and sources

Dustjacket of the American printing of Dark Horse of Woodfield

A review of Dark Horse of Woodfield

A biographical snippet

Bibliography - horse books only