Anna Sewell & Black Beauty

Anna Sewell (born on 30 March 1820, in Norfolk, England) is a famous English novelist renowned for her best-selling novel ‘Black Beauty’ , considered as a children’s classic.

Her concern with horses began early in life. At fourteen, she slipped in the rain on her way home from school and broke both her ankles. Unfortunately, they were set badly causing her to be disabled. Since she could not stand without crutches or walk for any length of time, she began to rely heavily on horses to pull her around in a cart. Soon she grew to love horses and to resent the careless and cruel treatment they often received from humans.
However, the author also dealt with many social issues of her time, such as poverty, unemployment, alcoholism.
While she teaches respect for animals, the novel also teaches that one must treat people with kindness, sympathy and respect.

Black Beauty – Autobiography of a Horse” addresses the problem of animal abuse during the Victorian age. The novel is written from the perspective of Black Beauty, a horse deeply concerned with justice, used as a mouthpiece for Sewell’s denunciation of animal abuse.
However the author was also concerned with many social issues of her time, such as poverty, unemployment, drinking.
While directly teaching animal welfare the novel also teaches that one must treat people with kindness, sympathy, and respect.

The novel was described in the “Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare” as “the most influential anti-cruelty novel of all time”, and led to a reduction in cruelty to horses.

One example of the anti-cruelty legislation passed after its publication was the abolition of bearing reins, which are particularly painful for horses. They held a horse’s neck in a stiff and unnatural position just to look stylish, but hurt their back, restricted breathing , and prevented them from leaning forward to pull.
The torture of these reins is described by one of Black Beauty’s friends as an excruciating experience: “Before that, I never knew what it was to foam at the mouth, but now the action of the sharp bit on my tongue and jaw, and the constrained position of my head and throat, always caused me to froth at the mouth more or less. Some people think it very fine to see this, and say, ‘What fine spirited creatures!’. But it is just as unnatural for horses as for men to foam at the mouth”.
He also says his neck was “aching until you don’t know how to bear it . . . the blood from my tongue covered the froth that kept flying from my lips”.

Once people began to stand up for horses, they soon began to recognize the rights of other animals, such as the right to live in freedom, to be treated with dignity, or not to suffer unnecessarily.

Anna Sewell (nata il 30 marzo 1820 a Norfolk, in Inghilterra) è una celebre scrittrice inglese rinomata per il suo romanzo “Black Beauty”, considerato un classico per bambini.

Il suo interesse per i cavalli iniziò quando era mol.to giovane. A quattordici anni scivolò sotto la pioggia tornando da scuola e si ruppe entrambe le caviglie. Purtroppo non furono sistemate bene e lei rimase invalida. Poiché non poteva stare in piedi senza le stampelle o camminare molto, iniziò ad andare in giro su una carrozza trainata da cavalli. Presto iniziò ad amare i cavalli e a preoccuparsi per il modo incurante e crudele con cui erano spesso trattati dagli umani.

“Black Beauty – Autobiografia di un cavallo” affronta il problema degli abusi sugli animali durante l’età vittoriana. Il romanzo è scritto dal punto di vista di Black Beauty, un cavallo profondamente interessato alla giustizia, portavoce della denuncia della Sewell sui maltrattamenti agli animali.

L’autrice tuttavia si occupò anche di questioni sociali del suo tempo, come la povertà, la disoccupazione, l’alcolismo.
Mentre insegna a rispettare degli animali, il romanzo insegna anche che bisogna trattare le persone con gentilezza, simpatia e rispetto.
Il romanzo è stato descritto nell’”Enciclopedia dei diritti e del benessere degli animali” come “il romanzo contro i maltrattamenti più influente di tutti i tempi” e ha portato alla riduzione della crudeltà nei confronti dei cavalli.

Un esempio della legislazione anti crudeltà approvata dopo la sua pubblicazione fu l’abolizione delle redini portanti, particolarmente dolorose per i cavalli. Tenevano la il collo di un cavallo in una posizione rigida e innaturale solo per bellezza, ma faceva male alla schiena, limitavano la respirazione e impediva loro di sporgersi in avanti per tirare. La tortura di queste redini è descritta da uno degli amici di Black Beauty come un’esperienza atroce: “Prima di allora, non sapevo cosa significasse schiumare in bocca, ma ora l’azione del morso tagliente sulla lingua e sulla mascella, e la posizione bloccata della testa e della gola, mi facevano sempre schiumare alla bocca . Alcune persone pensano che sia molto bello da vedere e dicono: ‘Che belle creature focose!’. Ma avere la schiuma alla bocca è innaturale per i cavalli quanto lo è per gli uomini “.
Aggiunge che “il collo gli faceva male al punto di non riuscire più a sopportarlo … il sangue della lingua copriva la spuma che continuava a colar giù dalle mie labbra”

Una volta che le persone iniziarono a tutelare i cavalli, ben presto cominciarono anche a riconoscere i diritti degli altri animali quali il diritto di vivere in libertà, di essere trattati in modo dignitoso, o di non soffrire inutilmente.

73 thoughts on “Anna Sewell & Black Beauty

      1. I went through your blog entitled ANNA SEWELL & BLACK BEAUTY . Beautifully worded writings of yours would work as a beacon light for those who are fighting for the animals’ rights . Born about 200 years ago ANNA SEWELL well described about the excess done on the horses during the Victorian period . If he was quite aware of the rights of the animals about 200 years ago , it means he had a magnanimous mind . And your blog makes us all conscious about how we should treat with our animals . That’s why you will be surprised to know that we, in INDIA since ancient period , have considered most of the animals as the God . As the dog is called Vairo , the cow is call Gau Mata ( cow mother ) , the horse is called Ashwa , the hog/pig is called Varah Devta , the bull is called Nandi etc. All these animal Gods are worshiped on the most parts of INDIA with this assertion that these animals have rights to be the God . And thus legitimizing Anna SEWELL and your blog—– both . Thanks !

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The information you have added is really valuable and has greatly enriched my post,
        Once again, thanks a bunch for such a wonderful, informative comment!
        I truly appreciate that you read this and shared your views. Thank you kindly🙏

        Like

  1. One of my favourite books as a child Luisa. I had hear this back story before, but forgotten it. This is a timely reminder, that everyone with pets or raising animals in their business doe snot have a right to treat them badly. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna Sewell and Black Beauty Book world famous specially children’s favourite movie and
    this book my son keeping his bookshelf !! You written her story very touching and inspiring 🌷🙏
    So heart fully Tribute to the Great Author 🌷🙏♥️👏🌷

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Conoscevo e devo dire i cavalli mi hanno spesso intimorito, poi a 16 anni sono stata al Wadi Rum e allora non c’erano altri mezzi per entrare che i piedi o i cavalli!! E per la prima volta ho cavalcato (si fa per dire! Mio padre davanti a me teneva per la corda il mio cavallo😋)
    È da allora quando vado nei amati luoghi lo faccio a cavallo, ma la paura non è sparita del tutto! I cavalli sono molto alti!!😋 brava Luisa e grazie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In another one of our ongoing coincidences (no not blogging on the same topic), I have been thinking a lot about Black Beauty and now you have written a wonderful backstory about how the book came about. I need to go to Project Gutenberg and re-read this classic. I recently saw something that implied it might be an American story but I distinctly remembered it as English. Lovely, Luisa.

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    1. I know there is a book titled: “Black Beauty: His Groom and Companions. The “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” of the Horse” recognizing that Sewell did for the animal rights what “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had done for the slaves
      As regards coincidences, Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia wrote “I believe that the only sure things in this world are coincidences.”

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  5. Nell’anno 1000 in ambito dell’aratura dei campi inventarono per i cavalli e i buoi l’allaccio alla fine del collo onde avere più potenza e non strozzare l’animale che prima l’aveva tra il collo e la testa. Ma non erano bei tempi come ora! (sic).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ho visto il film è devo dire che mi è piaciuto molto. Personalmente adoro i cavalli anche se non je ho mai cavalcato uno perchè la sua altezza m’intimorisce, in compenso però coi cavalli in genere ho un bel rapporto di coccole ❤

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  7. It’s interesting that Sewell wrote a book with such brutal horse cruelty scenes. But of course it makes sense. Sewell wasn’t callous toward animals or anything like that. It’s precisely because she loved horses that she had to write the story.

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  8. A post worthy of inclusion amongst your eclectic mix of authors if ever there was one. Not only was the book a truly inspirational one, your backstory sheds even more light on a classic. Thanks Luisa. Great stuff!

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  9. I find cruelty towards animals not acceptable, no matter in which century. Unfortunately, such bad behaviour has not ceased, even in the 21st century. There were quite a few articles in “MIDI LIBRE”, a newspaper in Southern France, about horses being tortured and shot, while they were outside, on the meadows.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I didn’t know about her disability. Life was very hard in the 19th century. Even the first half of the 20th…
    I though I might have read her as a child, but no. I read Walter Farley’s Black stallion… In another century definitely… 😉🙏🏻🌹

    Liked by 1 person

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