Walter Farley was born in Syracuse, New York on June 26, 1915. He began writing The Black Stallion when he was a student at Columbia University and completed it while working as an advertising copywriter in New York City. It was an immediate success when it was published in 1941. During World War II, he served in the army where he wrote the second book in the series, The Black Stallion Returns. After his discharge from the service in 1946, he became a full-time author. He wrote 20 novels in the Black Stallion series. His also wrote a fictionalized biography of America's greatest Thoroughbred, Man O'War. He died of heart failure on October 17, 1989 at the age of 74.