When Marguerite Henry came to Chincoteague in order to research her new book, she stayed here, in our Victorian bed and breakfast. Even in 1946, when Henry visited, this beautiful home was in use as accommodations on Chincoteague Island for vacationers and the like. The owner of the property, Molly Rowley, was a young widow who brought boarders into her home as a way to make a living after her husband passed away. Henry would sit on the porch with Miss Molly and Captain Jack, Molly’s uncle, discussing thoughts and ideas for her new book, Misty of Chincoteague.
History behind the Misty of Chincoteague Book
While Marguerite Henry was on the island, she attended the Pony Penning and met the Beebe family. The Beebes included Clarence and Ida Beebe, as well as their two grandchildren, Maureen and Paul. The real horse on which the book was based was actually foaled in domesticity on Chincoteague at the Beebe Ranch, not in the wild on Assateague Island as was told in the book. However, as in the book, Misty was sired by a stallion named Pied Piper, out of a dam called Phantom. Though these horses also were domesticated in real life, they too provided inspiration for the wild ponies portrayed in the novel.
Henry fell in love with Misty and wanted to purchase her from the family, but Clarence Beebe knew how much the children loved the foal and refused to sell her. Eventually, an agreement was made between Beebe and the author, and Beebe allowed Henry to purchase the horse for $150 if she included his grandchildren in her next book!
Henry followed through with the agreement and published Misty of Chincoteague in 1947, featuring Maureen, Paul, and the little filly as the main characters of the work. Misty continued to grow up on Henry’s farm in Illinois, accompanying the author on book signings across the country.