Mary O'Hara (1885-1980)

A well-loved American author best known for the immensely popular and timeless books about Ken and his horses.

She was born in 1885 in New Jersey. After her first marriage broke up she worked as a screenwriter in the early days of Hollywood silent films. She then married a horse-loving Swede and they moved to Wyoming, buying a ranch and horses. It was at this time she wrote the bestselling Flicka and Thunderhead stories, also set on a ranch in Wyoming and doubtless influenced by her experience of ranch life.

Mary O'Hara also wrote a few other non-horse books and an autobiography. She was in addition a talented musician and composer and also wrote a musical play called The Catch Colt (see below), later adapted into a novel with slight horse content.

The stories of Flicka and Thunderhead have been adapted into a number of films and TV shows - see link for more detailed information.

Flicka and Thunderhead Series:
Mary was best known for her immensely popular Flicka and Thunderhead series which incorporates a huge range of topics from wild horses to training to racing to romance! The series centres around a boy named Ken McLaughlin and the family ranch and surrounding countryside in Wyoming.

Reprinted many times in hardback and paperback.
Originally serialized in
Story magazine's January & February 1941 issues.
A film version was made  in 1943 and it was also the basis of a 1957 TV series.
Also 2006 film version very loosely based on book with Ken being replaced by a girl!
SUMMARY: A classic pony story about a boy's love for a mare named Flicka. Ken is a bit of a daydreamer and a constant source of worry to his practical father. But through his devotion to a horse Ken learns to grow up.

Reprinted many times in hardback and paperback.
Made into a film in 1945 entitled
Thunderhead, Son of Flicka.
SUMMARY: Second in series. Ken wants to train Flicka's son Thunderhead to become a racehorse but things are never that easy in the world of pony books...

Reprinted many times in hardback and paperback.
Made into a film in 1948.
SUMMARY: Ken is now almost grown up and falls in love. Will his new romance threaten his attempt to win an important trotting race?

Collectors Info:
There are numerous editions of the books. A reading copy of any of them will be extremely easy to find in the both the UK and USA.
However the first true (USA) edition of
My Friend Flicka is very scarce & expensive. This edition is NOT illustrated and is priced $2.50.
The first USA editions of all the books in the series are rare, but the UK first editions and hardback reprints are a lot lower priced and not too hard to come by. All the books have been reprinted many times both in hard and softback. In the UK the paperback Armada editions are the easiest to find. In these the stories were split up into parts, two parts in the case of Flicka and three parts for the other two books. If you collected the whole series in this form you would therefore have 8 books!

Other Horse and Pony Books:

( DRAMATIST'S PLAY SERVICE 1964 [as play version] )
(1st UK ED METHUEN 1979)
Reprinted in paperback.
SUMMARY: Not really a pony story in the true sense, this is a love story about two young people set against the backdrop of ranching, and also the story of someone seeking their true identity For older teenagers and adults.

Collectors Info:
Originally a musical play, was later adapted into a novel. The paperback edition of the novel is the easiest copy to come across but is a bit harder to find than the Flicka series.