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Black Beauty  
First Edition, F.M. Lupton Publishing Company, New York City, New York
Author Anna Sewell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher F.M. Lupton Publishing Company
Publication date 24 November 1877

Black Beauty is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she was confined to her house as an invalid.[1] The novel became an immediate bestseller, with Sewell living just long enough (five months) to see her first and only novel become a success.

Although not originally intended as a children's novel, but for people who work with horses, it soon became a children's classic. With 50 million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time.[2] While outwardly teaching animal welfare, it also contains allegorical lessons about how to treat people with kindness, sympathy and respect. Despite recollections to the contrary, there is no evidence that this book was ever banned in South Africa [3].


Plot Introduction

The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by a horse named Black Beauty—beginning with his carefree days as a colt n an English farm, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, to his happy retirement in the country. Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness. ach short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty's life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses, with Sewell's detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behaviour lending the novel a good deal of verisimilitude.[1]


Crippled and unable to walk since a young child, Anna Sewell began learning about horses early in life, spending many hours driving her father to and from the station from which he commuted to work. Sewell's introduction to witing began in her youth when she helped edit the works of her mother, Mary Wright Sewell (1797-1884), a deeply religious, popular author of juvenile best-sellers. By telling the story of a horse's life in the form of an autobiography and describing the world through the eyes of the horse, Anna Sewell broke new literary ground.[4]

Sewell said that her purpose in writing the novel was "to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses"[1]—an influence she attributed to an essay on animals she read earlier by Horace Bushnell (1802-1876) entitled "Essay on Animals".[5] Her sympathetic portrayal of the plight of working animals led to a vast outpouring of concern for animal welfare and is said to have been instrumental in abolishing the cruel practice of usng the checkrein (or "bearing rein", a strap used to keep horses' heads high, fashionable in Victorian England but painful and damaging to a horse's neck).[4] Black Beauty also contains two pages about the use of blinders (calling them blinkers) on horses, concluding that this use is likely to cause accidents at night due to interference with "the full use of" a horse's ability to "see much better in the dark than men can."

"There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to other animals as well as humans, it is all a sham."
Black BeautyChapter 13, last paragraph.

The book describes conditions among London horse-drawn taxicab drivers, including the financial hardship caused to them by high licence fees and low legally-fixed fares. A page footnote in some editions says that soon after the book was published, the difference between 6-day taxicab licences (not allowed to trade on Sundays) and 7-day taxicab licences (allowed to trade on Sundays) was abolished and the taxicab licence fee was much reduced.




  • Black Beauty/Black Auster/Jack/Darkie—The narrator of the story, a handsome black horse. He begins his career as a carriage horse for wealthy people but when he "breaks his knees" (i.e. develops scars on his "knees"--anatomically, wrists—after a bad fall) he is no longer considered presentable enough and is put to much harder work. He passes through the hands of a series of owners, some cruel, some kind. He always tries his best to serve humans despite the circumstance.
  • Duchess/Pet—Beauty's mother, who encourages Beauty to be good from a young age.
  • Rob Roy—A fellow black horse from Beauty's original farm, who is killed in a hunting incident. It is later learned that he was Beauty's half-brother, an older son of Duchess.
  • Lizzie— A high-strung, nervous mare who Lady Anne rides one day and is spooked until Black Beauty comes to her aid with his rider.
  • Ginger—Named for her chestnut colour and her habit of biting, which is often how the spice, ginger, is described. Ginger is a more aggressive horse due to her traumatic upbringing.
  • Merrylegs—A short, white, handsome pony who is polite to humans and horses alike. He is ridden by the young daughters at Birtwick Park.Then later on sent to live with the three ladies.
  • Sir Oliver—An older horse who had his tail docke to his great annoyance and discomfort.
  • Rory—A job horse usually paired with Black Beauty. Became a coal carting horse after getting hit in the chest by a runaway cart.
  • Peggy—A hired horse who cannot run very fast due to her short legs.
  • Captain—A former army horse who witnessed horrific incidents in the Crimean War, although he was well treated and received no wounds. He lost his beloved master in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He became a cab horse for Jerry, where he works with Black Beauty.
  • Hotspur—A five year old horse bought to replace Captain.
  • Justice—A calm, peaceable horse Beauty meets at Birtwick Park.

Beauty's owners

This copy of the first edition of the book was dedicated by the author to her mother. It was auctioned off at Christie's in London in June 2006 for £33,000.
  • Farmer Grey—Beauty's first owner, a good kind man who trains him well.
  • Mr Douglas Gordon(Squire Gordon)-A very kind and loving master who was also the squire.
  • Mr Barry—A man who tries to treat horses well, but lacks knowledge on horse care.
  • Mr Jeremiah Barker—A kind owner who uses Beauty as a cab horse. Owns Captain and Hotspur.
  • Mr Jakes—An owner who uses Beauty as a work horse, forcing him to carry heavy loads.
  • Mr Nicholas Skinner—A ruthless cab horse owner who wears out horses through hard work and mistreatment.
  • Farmer Thoroughgood—A kind owner who cares for Black Beauty when he is at his weakest.
  • The three ladies—His final home were he spent the rest of his days very well treated.

Film adaptations

The book has been adapted into film and television several times, including:

Influence upon other works

  • Beautiful Joe was a best-selling 1893 novel about a dog that was directly influenced by Black Beauty and followed a similar path to fame through awareness of cruelty to animals.
  • Strike at Shane's: A Prize Story of Indiana is an anonymous American novel that won a monetary award and national publication in 1893 in a contest sponsored by the American Humane Society, and was reprinted several times commercially thereafter. Described in the introduction as a "Sequel to Black Beauty, it tells the story of good and bad treatment of farm animals and local wildlife, especially songbirds, in the America Midwest. The novel is generally attributed as the first published work of the novelist Gene Stratton Porter, and bears a remarkable textual similarity to her other books.
  • Phyllis Briggs wrote a sequel called Son of Black Beauty, published in 1950.
  • The Pullein-Thompson sisters wrote several stories concerning relatives of Black Beauty. They are Black Ebony (1975; by Josephine), Black Velvet (1975; by Christine), Black Princess (1975; by Diana), Black Nightshade (1978; by Josephine), Black Romany (1978; by Diana), Blossom (1978; by Christine), Black Piper (1982; by Diana), Black Raven (1982; by Josephine) and Black Pioneer (1982; by Christine). The book Black Swift (1991) by Josephine is not about a Black Beauty relative. These were published in several compilations as well as some of them beig available separately. Each compilation was subsequently republished, sometimes with a change of name.
  • Spike Milligan wrote a parody of the novel called Black Beauty According to Spike Milligan (1996).


  1. ^ a b c Merriam-Webster (1995). "Black Beauty". Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature.
  2. ^ The Times on Black Beauty: "Fifty million copies of Black Beauty have been sold in the years since Anna Sewell's publisher paid her £20 for the story." (29 February 2008)
  3. ^ The Literature Police Accessed 2009-06-28
  4. ^ a b Anna Sewell, by Prof. Waller Hastings, Northern State University, 2004. copy.
  5. ^ Gentle Heart: The Story of Anna Sewell, by Jen Longshaw.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell
Black Beauty (in full: Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse, first published November 24, 1877) is Anna Sewell's only novel, composed in the last years of her life between 1871 and 1877 while confined to her house as an invalid.
Excerpted from Black Beauty on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

To my dear and honored Mother,
whose life, no less than her pen,
has been devoted to the welfare of others,
this little book is affectionately dedicated.

Part I

  1. My Early Home
  2. The Hunt
  3. My Breaking In
  4. Birtwick Park
  5. A Fair Start
  6. Liberty
  7. Ginger
  8. Ginger's Story Continued
  9. Merrylegs
  10. A Talk in the Orchard
  11. Plain Speaking
  12. A Stormy Day
  13. The Devil's Trade Mark
  14. James Howard
  15. The Old Hostler
  16. The Fire
  17. John Manly's Talk
  18. Going for the Doctor
  19. Only Ignorance
  20. Joe Green
  21. The Parting

Part II

  1. Earlshall
  2. A Strike for Liberty
  3. The Lady Anne, or a Runaway Horse
  4. Reuben Smith
  5. How it Ended
  6. Ruined and Going Downhill
  7. A Job Horse and His Drivers
  8. Cockneys
  9. A Thief
  10. A Humbug

Part III

  1. A Horse Fair
  2. A London Cab Horse
  3. An Old War Horse
  4. Jerry Barker
  5. The Sunday Cab
  6. The Golden Rule
  7. Dolly and a Real Gentleman
  8. Seedy Sam
  9. Poor Ginger
  10. The Butcher
  11. The Election
  12. A Friend in Need
  13. Old Captain and His Successor
  14. Jerry's New Year

Part IV

  1. Jakes and the Lady
  2. Hard Times
  3. Farmer Thoroughgood and His Grandson Willie
  4. My Last Home

Gallery of Illustrations

1895 Illustrations

Simple English

Black Beauty is the name given to a children's book by Anna Sewell.

A horse named Black Beauty is the main character in the book. In this book, the horse tells a story about his own life and experiences.

The story begins with Black Beauty being a comfortable and free young horse living with his mother. When he is old enough, he is sold from farm to farm and is owned by different people. Through his adventures, Black Beauty meets many people, the kind and the cruel. He also makes new friends and experiences many difficulties. The book was published in 1877.


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