Walter R. Brooks

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Walter R. Brooks
Walter R. Brooks.jpeg
BornWalter Rollin Brooks
(1886-01-09)January 9, 1886
Rome, New York, USA
DiedAugust 17, 1958(1958-08-17) (aged 72)
Roxbury, New York
GenreShort stories, children's novels

Walter Rollin Brooks (January 9, 1886 – August 17, 1958) was an American writer best remembered for his short stories on Mister Ed the talking horse and children's books, particularly those about Freddy the Pig and other anthropomorphic animal inhabitants of the "Bean farm" in upstate New York.


Brooks was born in Rome, New York. He attended college at the University of Rochester and subsequently studied homeopathic medicine in New York City. He dropped out after two years, however, and returned to Rochester where he married his first wife Anne Shepard in 1909. Brooks found employment with an advertising agency in Utica, and then "retired" in 1911, evidently because he came into a considerable inheritance. His retirement was not permanent; in 1917, he went to work for the American Red Cross and he later did editorial work for several magazines, including "a nonfiction stint with The New Yorker 1932–1933".[1] In 1940, Brooks turned to his own writing for his full-time occupation. Walter married his second wife, Dorothy Collins, following the death of Anne in 1952.

The first works that Brooks published were poems and short stories. Among the latter were a series (from 1937) of short stories featuring "a talking horse and his drunken owner"; it was the basis for the 1960s television comedy series Mister Ed.[1] (Credit is given in each episode to "Walter Brooks" for creating the characters. Brooks himself had died by the time production began on the show; as of early November 2013, it was not known whether his estate collected royalties from its production.) His most enduring works, however, are the 26 books that he wrote about Freddy the Pig and his friends. Boucher and McComas, for example, praised Freddy and the Spaceship, saying that it "offers wit, sound structural plotting, genuine character-humor, and admirable English prose".[2]

In 2009, Overlook Press published a biography on the life and work of Walter R. Brooks entitled Talking Animals and Others: The Life and Work of Walter R. Brooks, Creator of Freddy the Pig and written by Michael Cart ISBN 1-59020-170-1.

Mister Ed stories[edit]

The first story that he published featuring the character Mister Ed was “The Talking Horse”, featured in Liberty magazine for September 18, 1937, which contained two illustrations by Tony Sarge. The last in the series was “With Teeth and Tail”, which appeared in the August, 1945 issue of Argosy magazine. The short story “Ed Signs the Pledge” in Argosy, June 1944, was reportedly the story that Arthur Lubin used to sell the concept for the Mister Ed comedy series to TV executives. The series was produced by Filmways and was syndicated initially. It was picked up by CBS in 1961 and ran on the network until 1966.

In January, 1963, Bantam in New York City published a paperback collection of the Mister Ed stories entitled The Original Mr. Ed which featured illustrations by Bob Bugg.[3]

The Mister Ed character was featured in the following short stories:

  • "The Talking Horse", Liberty, September 18, 1937
  • "Horse Sense", Esquire, October 1938
  • "Mr. Pope’s Thoroughbred", Liberty, June 10, 1939
  • "Ed Has His Mind Improved", Liberty, October 14, 1939
  • "Ed Shoots It Out", Liberty, June 1, 1940
  • "The Midnight Ride of Mr. Pope", Liberty, August 3, 1940
  • "Just a Song at Twilight", Liberty, September 21, 1940
  • "Ed Holds a Séance", Liberty, March 1, 1941
  • "Ed Likes to Be Beside the Seaside", Liberty, July 5, 1941
  • "Ed Takes the Cockeyed Initiative", Liberty, September 27, 1941
  • Ed Gets a Mother Complex, Liberty, November 8, 1941
  • "Mr. Pope Rides Again", The Saturday Evening Post, July 4, 1942
  • "Bird in the Bush", The Saturday Evening Post, September 5, 1942
  • "Dr. Atwood and Mr. Ed", The Saturday Evening Post, January 16, 1943
  • "Do Ye Ken Wilbur Pope?", The Saturday Evening Post, June 5, 1943
  • "Ed Quenches an Old Flame", Argosy, May 1944
  • "Ed Signs the Pledge", Argosy, June 1944
  • "Ed Makes Like a Horse", Argosy, August 1944
  • "Well, Really, Mr. Pope!", Argosy, October 1944
  • "Ed the Were Horse" (a.k.a. "Monster in Horse’s Clothing"), Argosy, February 1945
  • "Ed Goes Psychic" (a.k.a. "Such a Spiritous Horse!"), Argosy, April 1945
  • "Ed Divides and Conquers", Argosy, July 1945
  • "With Teeth and Tail", Argosy, September 1945
  • "His Royal Harness", only in The Original Mr. Ed
  • "Medium Rare", only in The Original Mr. Ed


External links[edit]