Unlock the more straightforward side of Black Beauty with this concise and insightful summary and analysis!
This engaging summary presents an analysis of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, which tells the story of the horse of the title as he moves between different owners, who treat him with varying degrees of kindness and cruelty. Despite the hardship he endures, he does not become embittered and remains determined to do his best no matter the circumstances. The novel was groundbreaking at the time it was written because of its empathy for animals and insistence that they should be treated with kindness and respect, rather than viewed as mere machines to serve humans. It remains a classic of children’s literature and has captured the imaginations of generations of readers.
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ENGLISH NOVELISTBorn in Great Yarmouth (England) in 1820.Died in Norwich (England) in 1878.
Anna Sewell was born into a Quaker family on the east coast of England. The family were extremely poor, and Anna and her brother Philip were educated at home by their mother Mary Wright Sewell, a celebrated children’s author. When Sewell was 14, she had an accident where she slipped and broke her ankle. This injury crippled Sewell for life, and she became dependant on horse-drawn carriages for transport. It is likely that this dependence inspired Sewell’s love for horses, and she began to empathise with the way that animals were being treated.
Sewell struggled with her health throughout her life. When her brother Philip died, leaving a wife and seven children behind him, Sewell and her family moved to Old Catton in Norwich to help her. By 1871 Sewell was bedridden, and it was in the years between 1871 and 1877 that she began to write Black Beauty. Because writing was so challenging for Sewell, she alternated between dictating the novel to her mother, and writing on small slips of paper that her mother would then reproduce. The publisher Jarrolds bought the novel from Sewell in 1877 and it became a resounding success. Tragically Sewell never wrote any other work, and she died in 1878.
A NARRATIVE OF ANIMAL WELFAREGenre: novelReference edition: Sewell, A. (2007) Black Beauty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.1stedition: 1877Themes: animal welfare, compassion, morality, temperance, friendship
Black Beauty was written at a time when horses were the most common form of transport for ordinary people. Victorian society, which had undergone rapid industrialisation, saw horses as another machine, made to fit their purposes. As a result, its attitude to horses was often cruel, whether through ignorance or callousness. Therefore, the overriding message of Black Beauty is the necessity for kindness, and Sewell dedicated the book to her mother to thank her for the kindness that she taught her to offer to other living things.
Sewell also discusses her view of human morality in Black Beauty, advocating for temperance and labour unions, always making her position clear to the reader. Black Beauty
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