Who Is Misty of Chincoteague?
Misty of Chincoteague is a novel written by author Marguerite Henry in 1947. The book won the Newbery Honor in 1948 and became a children’s classic, second only to Black Beauty. The 1961 film Misty was based on the book. Mrs. Henry later wrote a series of sequels to the original book.
Marguerite Henry was inspired to write the book when she traveled to Chincoteague Island to witness the annual Pony Roundup and Swim. She wrote the book, at least in part, while staying at Miss Molly’s Inn on Chincoteague. The book is fiction, but based on real people, Paul, Maureen, Clarence (Grandpa) and Ida (Grandma) Beebe, and real Chincoteague Ponies, Misty, Phantom, and the Pied Piper.
The book is about Paul and his sister Maureen who lived on Chincoteague Island with their grandparents. Paul and Maureen helped their grandfather raise and train ponies and they dreamed of owning a pony of their own.
Paul and Maureen worked numerous odd jobs to earn enough money to purchase a pony at the auction held during Pony Penning. Paul is able to ride for the first time with the men who round up the wild ponies. Much to everyone's surprise Paul is able to corral the elusive Phantom and her new born foal Misty. When Misty begins to struggle swimming across the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague Paul jumps in and swims her to safety.
Paul and Maureen are able to purchase the Phantom and Misty at the auction. They spend the next year training Phantom to ride and keeping Misty out of trouble. Paul rides Phantom in the big race the following year on Pony Penning Day. Paul and Phantom win a prize of twelve dollars.
The real Misty was born on July 20, 1946 at the Beebe Ranch on Chincoteague Island, owned by Clarence and Ida Beebe. Marguerite Henry wanted to buy Misty to take back with her to be the model for her book. Clarence Beebe at first refused, but sold her after Mrs. Henry promised to include his grandchildren Maureen and Paul Beebe in the book. Misty stayed with Mrs. Henry for over ten years, appearing for her fans at schools, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and horse shows. Misty was sent back to the Beebe Ranch in 1957 to have her foals. Clarence Beebe died soon after Misty's return and Ida Beebe asked their son Ralph to take care of Misty. Misty died in her sleep on October 16, 1972 at age 26.
The premiere of the movie "Misty" on Chincoteague was in 1961, and Misty was led down Main Street by Ralph Beebe. In front of the Island Theater Misty put her front hoof prints in the cement, and Marguerite Henry wrote Misty's name in the cement underneath. Misty's hoof prints can still be found in the sidewalk in front of the newly renovated Island Theater. A bronze statue of Misty is located at Robert Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague. Today you can find direct descendants of Misty at the Chincoteague Pony Center.