Anna Sewell | Author of Black Beauty
Anna Sewell’s Books on PageVio
Black Beauty (1877)
Black Beauty, Young Folks’ Edition (1902)
Anna Sewell Biography
Anna Sewell is best known for her novel Black Beauty, which she wrote during the Victorian era. Anna Sewell was raised in a strict Quaker family and found solace in writing from an early age. Although she never married and had no children, her legacy lives on through her books. She wrote only one book in her lifetime, but its impact has been felt for generations since it first hit the presses in 1877.
Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, on 30 March 1820. She was the daughter of Isaac Phillip Sewell and Mary Wright Sewell. Philip Sewell, Anna Sewell’s brother, was born about a year later. Due to the Sewell family’s poor finances, Anna and her brother were educated at home.
At the age of fourteen, Anna suffered a severe accident. She slipped and fell, leaving her disabled for the rest of her life. Due to her limited mobility, she traveled in a horse-drawn carriage frequently. This experience no doubt influenced her love of horses and views on the treatment of animals.
Anna’s mother, Mary Sewell, was also a writer, publishing children’s books in the 1830s and 1840s. Anna helped her mother in editing, and Mary’s work is credited with inspiring Anna to become a writer.
Anna began to write the manuscript for Black Beauty in 1871. As she was in bad health, she wrote on slips of paper or dictated the text for her mother to transcribe. It was published in 1877. The book’s main character – a horse named Black Beauty – narrates his experiences with different owners during his lifetime as a carriage horse. Black Beauty was an instant success and was widely read in England and abroad. The novel was praised for its sympathetic portrayal of animals and its advocacy of humane treatment. For example, Sewell was a vocal opponent of using rein on horses and devoted a good portion of Black Beauty to describe the harm they could cause.
Anna wrote the novel to raise public awareness and inspire people to treat animals with kindness and respect, especially those who work with horses, and she said it was to “induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses.”
Following the success of the book, Sewell’s health quickly deteriorated. Sewell suffered from hepatitis or phthisis. She died on 25 April 1878 and was buried on 30 April 1878, but her legacy has endured for over a century. Black Beauty is still widely read today and is a children’s classic. Her work remains an inspiration to those who are passionate about animal rights and the prevention of cruelty to animals. It is a testament to her courage and determination that, even in the face of ill health, she could leave behind such an enduring legacy.