Black Beauty

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This copy of the first edition of the book was dedicated by the author to her mother. It was auctioned off at Christies in London in June 2006 for ?33, 000. Black Beauty (in full: Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse, first published November 24 1877) is Anna Sewells only novel, composed in the last years of her life between 1871 and 1877 while confined to her house as an invalid. [1] The story is told in the first person (or first horse) as an autobiographical memoir told by a highbred horse named Black Beauty-beginning with his carefree days as a foal on 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. Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beautys life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses, with Sewells detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behaviour lending the novel a good deal of verisimilitude. [1] The book became an immediate best-seller, with Anna living just long enough (five months) to see her first and only novel become a success. Anna said of her purpose in writing its special aim being 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. [2] 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 using the checkrein (or bearing rein, a strap used to keep horses heads high, fashionable in Victorian England but painful and damaging to a horses neck). [3] Crippled and unable to walk since a young child, Annas exposure to horses began early in life when she spent many hours driving her father to and from the station from which he commuted to work. Sewells introduction to writing 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 horses life in the form of an autobiography and describing the world through the eyes of the horse, Anna Sewell broke new literary ground. [3] Black Beauty was not originally intended as a childrens novel, but for people who work with horses. It soon, however, became a childrens classic, a novel of education for generations of schoolchildren to the present day. While outwardly teaching animal welfare, it also contains allegorical lessons about how to treat people with kindness, sympathy and respect.

Later student editions included further study questions, highlighting the moral theme of each chapter. [4] Margaret Blount in her book Animal Land says Black Beauty is the first real animal novel, the most famous and best-loved ...

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