A Horse's Tale


A Horse's Tale

Mark Twain
Edited and with an introduction by Charles C. Bradshaw
Afterword by Shelley Fisher Fishkin

The Papers of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody Series

224 pages
6 photographs, 17 illustrations, index


December 2020


$19.95 Pre-order

About the Book

At the turn of the twentieth century Minnie Maddern Fiske, a New York actress, socialite, and animal rights activist, wrote to Mark Twain with an unusual request: for Twain to write about the evils of bullfighting equal to that of his anti-vivisectionist story A Dog’s Tale. Twain responded with A Horse’s Tale, a comic animal tale that doubled as a frontier adventure and political diatribe.

A Horse’s Tale concerns Soldier Boy, Buffalo Bill Cody’s favorite horse, as the protagonist and sometime narrator at a fictional frontier outpost with the U.S. Seventh Cavalry. When the general’s orphaned niece arrives, Buffalo Bill takes her under his wing and ultimately lends her Soldier Boy so that they may seek adventure together. Twain uses the friendship between the girl and the horse as the basis for his eventual indictment of the barbarism of Spanish bullfighting. Twain’s novella is unusual for its complex tone—combining a comic children’s story and a dark portrait of animal cruelty. Including the themes of transatlantic relations and frontier culture, Twain offers a fresh look into the world of Buffalo Bill Cody from the perspective of one of America’s most beloved authors.

First published in 1906 in Harper’s Monthly and as a single volume the following year, A Horse’s Tale never again appeared in print except in anthologies of Twain’s work. This edition includes the full text of Twain’s original story, an introduction that situates the work in historical and biographical context, thorough annotations, and the addition of significant archival material related to Twain, Cody, and Fiske.


Author Bio

Mark Twain (1835–1910) was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Charles C. Bradshaw is an associate professor of English at Brigham Young University–Hawaii.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Editor’s Preface
Editor’s Introduction: A Horse’s Tale
A Note on the Text
A Horse’s Tale
Part I:
Chapter 1: Soldier Boy: Privately to Himself
Chapter 2: Letter from Rouen: to General Alison
Chapter 3: General Alison to His Mother
Chapter 4: Cathy to Her Aunt Mercedes
Chapter 5: General Alison to Mercedes
Chapter 6: Soldier Boy and the Mexican Plug
Chapter 7: Soldier Boy and Shekels
Chapter 8: The Scout-Start: BB and Lieutenant-General Alison
Chapter 9: Soldier Boy and Shekels Again
Chapter 10: General Alison and Dorcas
Chapter 11: Several Months Later: Antonio and Thorndike
Chapter 12: Mongrel and the Other Horse
Chapter 13: General Alison to His Mother
Chapter 14: Soldier Boy: To Himself
Chapter 15: General Alison to Mrs. Drake, the Colonel’s Wife
Appendix 1:
Appendix 2:
Appendix 3:
Selected Bibliography

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