Back in 1983, I was a horse crazy kid who subscribed to Horse & Rider magazine. That magazine gave me hours of entertainment, even though it catered to Western style riding and I rode English. Anyway, there were lots of horsey ads in Horse & Rider and back in the early 80s, that magazine frequently advertised books by Robert Vavra, an extremely well-regarded horse photographer. Vavra had a lot of beautiful books and calendars for sale, but the book I was most curious about was one called Unicorns I Have Known (1983).
With a list price of $39.95, it was too expensive for me to purchase and I don't think I ever bothered to tell my parents about it because it was about unicorns and I had a feeling my very practical mom would scoff. Besides, I was not one of those unicorn crazy girls... I was just fascinated by how Vavra managed to capture the mythical creatures on film. Still, this book never fully left my consciousness.
Fast forward about 30 years. I'm now 40 and know that the mystical unicorns in Unicorns I Have Known are actually just white and grey horses wearing fake horns. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful hardcover book and I managed to score a used one at a very nice price on Amazon.com.
Robert Vavra writes this book as if unicorns really do exist. He writes a first passage about his first encounter with the one horned white beast. About half of the rest of this book consists of gorgeous pictures of unicorns in a variety of exotic locations, from lush jungle settings with waterfalls and tropical birds to arid desert scenes. The photos are accompanied by quotes from well known writers such as W.B Yeats, Peter Beagle, William Wordsworth, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The second half of the book are Vavra's "notes on unicorn behavior". This section includes Vavra's unicorn related anecdotes and notes on each of the magical photographs in this book.
I waited about thirty years to own my own copy of Unicorns I Have Known and I must say it was well worth the wait. Vavra's photos are magical and the unicorns look so real you could almost believe in them. He separates each section, placing photos of unicorns in forests, in the sea, or in the mountains. It's very inspiring to look at these imaginative and creative photographs in beautiful settings around the world.
I think Unicorns I Have Known is certainly a great book for young girls who love unicorns. It's also a lovely, unique book for adults who just like to dream. It is unfortunately out of print, but used copies are readily available on Amazon.com. If there is a unicorn lover in your life, I highly recommend this book.
For more information: http://robertvavra.com/
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