Black Beauty — which was first published in 1877 — is still one of the most widely read “horse” books around. Recently it was chosen by NPR for it’s Backseat Book Club.
Black Beauty was Anna Sewell’s only published book, although her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, was a popular writer of juvenile fiction. She died of either tuberculosis or hepatitis only 5 months after it was published. Sewell had a unique relationship with horses — after breaking both ankles at the age of 14, she suffered lifelong consequences from the poor medical treatment she received. As a result, she was dependent upon horse-drawn transportation her entire life.
She was the first author to write a book from a horse’s point of view. Her stated goal with the book was “to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses”—an influence she attributed to an essay on animals she read earlier by Horace Bushnell entitled “Essay on Animals”. In that, she succeeded. Sewell is widely attributed to having eliminated the use of the “check rein” on carriages and, with more than 50 million copies of Black Beauty sold, she continues to influence generations of animal lovers.
I know that most of you MUST have read Black Beauty — not just once, but many times. I know that I did and it certainly made a huge impact on me.
What are your memories of the book?