November 24 – Black Beauty Captures Hearts

Posted on November 24, 2016

On this date in 1877, the world was treated to the story of a horse's life – through a horse's point of view!

The best-selling novel Black Beauty is a sort of autobiographical memoir – a fictional one, of course! – of a horse. We start with Black Beauty's happy colt-hood on an English farm, we learn about his troubles while pulling cabs in London, we rejoice in his happy retirement at the end of the story.

The author of Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, was disabled as a young teen by an accident, and she was basically unable to walk. She had to rely on horses for transportation, and she spent many hours driving her father to and from work via horse-drawn vehicles.

Sewell also helped out her mother – a popular author of children's books – learning about writing while helping her mother edit her books.

Anna Sewell only wrote one book – but Black Beauty was a huge hit. A more-than-fifty-million-copies-sold kind of hit! A one-of-the-best-selling-books-of-all-time kind of hit!

A has-been-adapted-to-seven-movies-plus-two-TV-series kind of hit! There has even been an LP adaptation and a theatrical adaptation of the well-loved story.

The book was not particularly meant for kids – it was meant to encourage people who work with horses to be kind to them – but it is thought of (at least now) as a kids' book. It is preachy and teachy, but the preaching and teaching are all about treating people and animals with kindness and sympathy. Here is one quote:

".... [T]here 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...."

I can dig that, can't you?

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