Anna Sewell (1820-1878)
Black Beauty was the only book Anna Sewell was to ever write but its influence on the world of children’s literature remains significant.
Born in Norfolk, England, Sewell’s early Quaker upbringing instilled a lifelong sense of compassion and kindness for all creatures. She sustained an injury at an early age that was to leave her permanently disabled. As a result, she relied on pony carts and horse-drawn carriages for mobility.
Black Beauty is told from the horse’s perspective, starting with life as a young foal and then growing into a mature and (by story’s end) world-weary animal. Detailing the horse’s experiences at the hands of multiple owners, the story is not only a plea for more humane treatment of animals, it is also a vivid and insightful commentary on the customs and social conditions of Victorian England.