Of Horse

Created by Horse enthusiasts for Horse enthusiasts

Get your free account at Of Horse.

  • Vote

    for your favorite new posts
  • Publish

    your own original blog posts
  • Earn

    $15 for your posts voted to Top Posts
  • Sign Up!
A Famous Horse's Tale: "Black Beauty"
Facebook Tweet Google+ Pinterest Email More Sharing Options

A Famous Horse's Tale: "Black Beauty"

As a child this was one of my favourite books, and also one of my favourite TV series, in common with many other kids. The classic novel, Black Beauty, published in 1877, was by English author Anna Sewell, and was her only published work. (She died around 5 months after it came out in print). Apparently it sold around 50 million copies and became one of the best-selling books of all time. The novel is famous for its forthright, didactic tone on animal welfare, and also the  treating of humans with kindness and respect. It was one of the books which influenced the pony book genre of children's literature.

Anna Sewell came from a devout Victorian Quaker family in Yarmouth, England, and her sympathy towards animals, particularly horses, was partly due to her own disability. At the age of 14 she fell and injured both her ankles. The injury was never successfully treated, and so she became unable to walk properly or stand for any length of time for the rest of her life. Consequently she became almost wholly dependent on horse-drawn carriages, and due to spending a lot of time with horses, and learning about them, she developed a deep respect for them, and concern for their treatment. The novel is narrated in an autobiographical way, from the horse's viewpoint, which at the time broke new literary ground.

Although it has become known as a popular children's book, Black Beauty was not in fact written for children, according to the author, but in order to promote the welfare of working horses, which it certainly succeeded in doing. It was said to have influenced concern for animals in the general community at the time, and to have been instrumental in the abolition of the cruel check-rein, or bearing rein, a strap used to keep horses' heads artificially high, fashionable in Victorian England, but painful and damaging to the horses' necks. The story deals with the life and times of a handsome black stallion, named Beauty, and is told from his point of view, as a foal on a farm, through his days of hardship as a cab horse in London, to his happy retirement in the country. Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty's life, which contains a lesson or moral, which is related to kindness and understanding treatment towards horses. The author gives detailed observations and descriptions of equine behaviour, which give the novel a very authentic, believable feel.

There have in fact been several film and TV adaptations of this popular and seminal work, most of which I myself am familiar with. The one I best remember, however, is the TV series of the 1970s, when I was growing up. I think it must have influenced me in my concern about the treatment of animals, as it did so many others.

To quote: “.... 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 man and beast, it is all a sham...." Chapter 13, last paragraph. Amen to that!

Anna Sewell was a very talented and passionate author, and it is a shame she did not publish any other works. This one, however, is a great testament to her intelligence and compassion.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog. Your votes and comments are much appreciated.

Picture courtesy of acsreads.blogspot.com

Yes! Send me a full color horse trailer brochure from Featherlite.

Thanks! Your brochure will be on its way shortly.

Leave a Comment

  1. naturegirl
    Hmmm.... Another one that I've looked at already. I delve much more into the author's biography than the actual story since I read the book a very long time ago and can't really give any quotes or relate the tale too well. I remember how much i had had to beg for my mom to buy it for me because she didn't like the idea of me owning it. I don't remember why. My brother had a story about horses - Black Stallion - so why couldn´t I have one? Ha! She finally gave in. Here´s my article: http://www.ofhorse.com/view-post/A-Tale-Well-Never-Forget Voted for you.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      Thank you. Ooops, once again I am copying you! Not on purpose though! The trouble is, it is hard to avoid a certain amount of duplication and come up with something 100% original for these blogs. But, as you say, yours is more about Sewell's biography, mine is more about the book, so they give different perspectives. That is the the thing about blogging though, it's about personal perspective really, isn't it? The same idea, seen through different eyes.
      Log in to reply.
  2. naturegirl
    Hmmm.... Another one that I've looked at already. I delve much more into the author's biography than the actual story since I read the book a very long time ago and can't really give any quotes or relate the tale too well. I remember how much i had had to beg for my mom to buy it for me because she didn't like the idea of me owning it. I don't remember why. My brother had a story about horses - Black Stallion - so why couldn´t I have one? Ha! She finally gave in. Here´s my article: http://www.ofhorse.com/view-post/A-Tale-Well-Never-Forget Voted for you.
    Log in to reply.
  3. sweedly
    sweedly
    This was my most favorite book as a child. It is no doubt why my imaginary horse was black with a white star on its forehead. I remember now about the bearing rein being mentioned in the book. Thanks for all the back ground info on the author. Voted.
    Log in to reply.
  4. jst4horses
    I heard that this book was not really about horses, even though of course it was about the way horses are treated. My Grandfather was also a New York Quaker. The book was about the different ways humans are treated and relate to the human reality. One thing for sure, horses LIKE to be groomed with a firm hand, and there is no way a human can put more force on a horse than a horse puts on its own hide when rolling, or scratching on a tree. One of the favorite things a horse likes is what we call "cookies" they are round rubbing patterns, and especially around the face. The first thing a foal feels is the mare licking and getting the circulation running and the foal dried with her tongue. It is a rough, round rubbing pattern! I use it for rewards.
    Log in to reply.
  5. jst4horses
    I heard that this book was not really about horses, even though of course it was about the way horses are treated. My Grandfather was also a New York Quaker. The book was about the different ways humans are treated and relate to the human reality. One thing for sure, horses LIKE to be groomed with a firm hand, and there is no way a human can put more force on a horse than a horse puts on its own hide when rolling, or scratching on a tree. One of the favorite things a horse likes is what we call "cookies" they are round rubbing patterns, and especially around the face. The first thing a foal feels is the mare licking and getting the circulation running and the foal dried with her tongue. It is a rough, round rubbing pattern! I use it for rewards.
    Log in to reply.

Sign Up to Vote!

10 second sign-up with Facebook or Google

Already a member? Log in to vote.