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Pedigree geeks--"The Bolinvars" by Marguerite Farlee Bayliss

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  • Pedigree geeks--"The Bolinvars" by Marguerite Farlee Bayliss

    This is a novel that was first published by Derrydale Press, a house that was devoted to sporting books, mostly hunting. It was also the first publisher of General Chamberlin's training books and possibly Littauer's .

    The novel is fascinating to a pedigree wonk because it's filled with TBs and hounds and foxhunting and is placed in the early 1800's. In almost every case, the pedigrees of the animals are given for many generations. In a way, it's almost a history of early American TB breeding. I read the pedigrees and, by gum, I understand them. They are based on real horses and real mares. So that makes the book especially interesting to me, as it's set in the time when Herod ruled American breeding.

    It's a rattling good story as well, very much like Daphne du Maurier. It was picked up and published by the mainstream press and went to many editions. I found the one I'm reading packed away in a box of books and almost didn't bother with it because it calls itself "A Romance".

    It occurs to me that Bolinvar would be a lovely name for a horse.
    Last edited by vineyridge; Mar. 15, 2011, 02:19 PM.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire

  • #2
    VINEEEEYYYYYY!!!! I *knew* you'd be a Bolinvar fan if you ever read it!!!!!

    This is hands-down my favorite horse book ever. Been shrieking about its beauty on here for years. I own several copies (keep buying more for gifts, just got another one) including the 2-volume Derrydale press first edition "box set".

    The author based the book on her own family's history and referred to MANY original sources - letters, diaries, breeding records; that's why the pedigree info is so accurate. I have no doubt that even a lot of the "fictional" horses in it that you can't find on pedigreequery.com probably did exist but simply were not registered (e.g., the 2 grey trotting mares).

    I am OBSESSED with this book and re-read it annually. There's so much great pedigree info in it and it's a cracking good read as well!!

    Edit: "Bolinvar" is a great name for a HOUSE, too - and here it is.
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


    • #3
      Oh, I clearly need to get this book! Thanks for the recommendation!
      Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


      • #4
        The Bolinvars was originally published as a series in Ladies Home Journal (according to the dust jacket). Marguerite Bayliss was a writer involved in the Blue Books, and it is said she could recognise by sight, every horse showing on the east coast.

        Wonderful story. In fact, the first exposure I had to it was when I picked up a collection of short stories illustrated by Margaret Cable Self. The last part was published as "Trail's End" and picks up on Christmas morning, and goes to the kill of the Colfax Fox. In fact, that was the first fox hunting story I fell in love with. I just went hunting this past Saturday for the very first time with the COTH Hunting Princesses.

        A few years ago I ebayed a copy of the entire book, and like War Admiral, read it annually.


        • #5
          Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
          I own several copies (keep buying more for gifts, just got another one) including the 2-volume Derrydale press first edition "box set".
          Ooooo I think I need this....


          • #6
            This is fun
            A review from TIMES Magazine 1944


            • #7
              I *think* the LHJ serialization came later, SmartAlex... The 2-volume 1st ed. by Derrydale Press (titled "Bolinvar" rather than "The Bolinvars") was published in 1937, I think *next* was the serialization in LHJ which was done to publicize the subsequent, edited, single-volume "wartime edition". Could be wrong though.

              The 2-volume 1st ed. is cool in some ways. However, see my review on Ponydom.com for a huge caveat - there is a LOT of really racist stuff in the 1st edition which was cut out for the later editions. The wartime editor did a really good job of taking it all out. I must say I rarely read the 1st ed.; it makes me think a LOT less of the writer. But the downside of skipping it in favor of the later ones is that you also miss some good horse lore - e.g., cubbing as we know it did not exist in America at that time; the typical size of a box stall in those days was 16x16... and so on...

              ETA: Columbus, I'd forgotten about that review. The irony is that what the reviewer meant as a dis is exactly what I LOFF about it: "It reads like a blend of Black Beauty, The Stockbreeder's Manual and The Three Musketeers." It does indeed!!
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                My 1944 copy arrived today. Looking forward to reading it along with a BRIS CD as a "study guide".

                Thanks in advance for the heads-up on this book. I would not have read it otherwise for the same reason mentioned earlier - it states it's a romance.
                "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin


                • Original Poster

                  Keep Pedigree Query and TB Heritage and Bloodlines.net up on your computer as well for guiding study.
                  "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                  Thread killer Extraordinaire


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                    Keep Pedigree Query and TB Heritage and Bloodlines.net up on your computer as well for guiding study.
                    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


                    • #11
                      Another Fan!

                      Just finished this book...a 1944 edition... while on spring break from school last week, and I loved it! What an absolute delight! The author's voice is consistently informative and enthusiastic without being pedantic. A rollicking good story (though the final hunt is a weeeeee bit tall-tale-y) any horse fan would enjoy, even those of us who aren't TB-pedigree aficionados!


                      • #12
                        Bolinvar, the HOUSE, was lovely. I had the pleasure of attending a Christmas party at the house in 2002 IIRC. The house went on the market after the unexpected death of the owner. His widow and son relocated to elsewhere in VA. Lovely people. So sad, they hadn't lived there long.
                        ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                        Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                        "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                        • #13
                          OOOOHHHH there are several copies on ebay right now! I bought the 1st edition with a dust jacket. Can't wait to read it!
                          ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                          Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                          "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bayou Roux View Post
                            A rollicking good story (though the final hunt is a weeeeee bit tall-tale-y)
                            Is NOT! That could totally have happened Someday if I have some spare time, I'm going to map their route.

                            That excerpt was in a collection of horse stories book that my Mom picked up for me at a yard sale years ago. After reading it a dozen times, I sought out the original book. The author was rather fascinating herself. She was one of the people who published the old Horse Show Blue Book and was said to be able to recognise every one of the 2000+ horses on the eastern show circuit by sight.


                            • #15
                              On a pedigree note...

                              Last week or so, I was reading an article about General Lee's Traveller. He was sired by Grey Eagle, a 4 mile racer. The article told about the most noteable race Grey Eagle ran against a horse by Sir Archy, and I thought of the "Sir Archy Hunter". Which one was it? Rupert? Bay with a perfect star...


                              • Original Poster

                                Don't know the answer to that, but Grey Eagle is interesting in the context of saddlebreds, BECAUSE even though he was triple to Sir Archy, four generations back in his damline one finds Pensacola, a stallion imported to the US from Spain or the Spanish colonies--probably the Caribbean Spanish colonies. He's one of at least three very early colonial imports from Spain whose genes have persisted in the modern thoroughbred, thanks to exports of US TBs to Europe. The others are Croucher, a mare who is in both Nearco and Lady Josephine and most QHs, thanks to Meade's Celer and Jane Hunt; and Hunting Squirrel who is in the German Graf Ferry and several other lines that are still alive in the breed.
                                "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                Thread killer Extraordinaire


                                • #17
                                  So, Viney, as I've been re-reading the Bolinvars, I began to wonder if the author was as accurate in her hound pedigrees as she was her horse pedigrees. I'm not a hound person at all, but I did Google St. Hubert's hounds and found that the Monks of St. Hubert's monestary in Belgium did breed a strain of black and tan bloodhound of which they once made a gift of to the King of France, and which was imported to England to become the foundation for the Bloodhound. They were originally used to track wolves, deer and big cats. That makes the book all the more interesting to read.

                                  I didn't find much on the Trojans, but apparently there is some Trojan blood in the foundation of the Middleburg hunt pack?