Anna Sewell was born in Norfolk in 1820. She fell down when she was fourteen and severely injured her ankles. Anna used a crutch to walk and often depended on horse-drawn carriages to move around. This inspired her love for horses and motivated her to pen Black Beauty, which was her sole published novel. Anna died in 1878, shortly after Black Beauty was published.


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.

Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty is one of the first animal fiction novels in children’s literature. It is the touching story of a well-bred horse that is forced to leave its safe home in the middle of a pleasant meadow to move to Victorian London.

The story is narrated from the perspective of Black Beauty, the eponymous beautiful black horse. It explains every step in its journey, starting from its childhood days at the meadow, and its experiences in Birtwik. It also relates, in meticulous detail, how it changed masters and ended up in London as a cab horse.

The novel is divided into 4 parts, each dealing with a different facet of the horse’s life. Though Black Beauty is the main narrator, the novel also features many other interesting characters such as Jack, John, Ginger, Merrylegs, among others. All of them add value to the story in their own unique ways. Every character is neatly etched with a gripping backstory.

The author painstakingly explains the pain suffered by horses due to the bearing reins, tight saddles, horseshoes, and the tight bits placed inside their mouths. She subtly drives home the now well-known fact of even animals having feelings. She successfully inculcates in children the notion that animals, just like human beings, also experience emotions such as pain, sorrow, joy and fear. The story, and her own life to a large extent, underscore an animal’s ability to develop feelings of compassion and empathy toward other living beings.

Black Beauty can also be regarded as a political commentary against the cruel treatment of horses during the Victorian era. However, unsurprisingly, the novel is no less relevant in the twenty-first century. It vehemently insists on the need to live in harmony with nature and other living creatures. Apart from this, the plot also reminds young readers that, no matter what the circumstances, one must never give up.

The book is both fast-paced and engaging. The writing is uncomplicated and fairly easy to understand. And probably that is why excerpts from the book can be found in several English-literature textbooks.

Ameya Rating:

Black Beauty is completely worthy of a 4.5-star score. The story of Black Beauty can entertain and educate children like few modern works of fiction can. In addition, the book is also replete with moral values, which young minds are bound to accept and embrace by the end of the story.

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