From its first publication in 1877, Black Beauty has been one of the best-loved animal stories ever written. The dramatic and heartwarming tale is told by the magnificent black horse himself, from his idyllic days on a country squire’s estate to his harsh fate as a London cab horse and his merciful rescue by two kindly old ladies.
Filled with vivid anecdotes about animal intelligence, the novel derives a special magic from the love of all creatures, great and small, apparent on every page. But the book’s lasting impact comes from its descriptions of a human society struggling to find the goodness within itself and its plea for kindness to all creatures - a message so powerful that this favorite classic began a crusade for animal welfare that continues to this day.
Anna Sewell was born in England in 1820. As a young girl, she witnessed great and frequent abuse of horses. A knee injury at 14 left her disabled, but she rode and drove horses very well, controlling them with voice alone, never a whip. She wrote Black Beauty in her 50s and died about a year after it was published in 1877. The book has had a tremendous impact in creating a new wave of humanist thinking towards animals.
“One of the best animal stories every written,
Black Beauty charts the decline and fall of a wellbred horse brought low by neglectful grooms and overwork in the cab trade…Black Beauty himself is finally saved…less fortunate is his highspirited friend in harness Ginger, whose ignoble death in the streets of London makes for one of the most powerful passages in all children’s literature.” (
The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English)
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