The Canadian edition of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was published in 1921 by The Ryerson Press. It is the iconic story of a horse and the inhumane way some animals are treated by their owners. Written between 1871 and 1877, the book was first published by Jarrolds Publishers in 1877.
The Ryerson Press Fall catalogue entry for 1923 reads, “Black Beauty is one of the greatest stories for children that has ever been written. It is a book that will be loved by every boy and girl who knows and understands animals. They will read with genuine emotion the history of Black Beauty, the coal-black horse with the white star on his forehead. There is an intense human quality about the account of Black Beauty’s trials with cruel masters and his joy when he is able to serve a good master. And the story is told with a beautiful simplicity of style which makes it easy for the child to understand. This best-loved of children’s books is delightfully illustrated by Katharine Pyle, well-known illustrator.”
Anna Sewell (1820-1878) was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England and lived the remaining years of her life in the village of Old Catton just outside Norwich. An accident at an early age left her unable to walk any distance without crutches and she was used to being transported by horse and buggy. As a result, she developed a love of animals and horses in particular and the manner in which they were treated by their owners.
As Anna Sewell travelled through Europe she came into contact with many of the writers, artists and philosophers of the day through her mother’s work as an established writer of children’s religious books. The dedication to Black Beauty reads, “To my dear and honoured Mother whose life no less than her pen has been devoted to the welfare of others, this little book is affectionately dedicated.” Over the years, it is safe to say that Anna Sewell herself has inspired many young readers to dedicate themselves to the welfare, affection and humane treatment of animals and horses in particular.
Anna Sewell’s health declined in later years and she was confined to her bed in Old Catton, a village outside Norwich. She wrote Black Beauty between 1871 and 1877 dictating the last few chapters to her mother who transcribed her words for her. The book was published 6 months before her death in 1878. Although Black Beauty is now considered a children’s classic, she originally wrote it for those who worked with horses. She said “a special aim [was] to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses” (Wikipedia)
Anna Sewell died April 25, 1878 at the age of 58. She is buried in a small Quaker burial ground in Lammas, Norfolk where a plaque commemorates her final resting place.