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From its first publication in 1877, Black Beauty has been one of the best-loved animal stories ever written. The dramatic and heartwarming tale is told by the magnificent black horse himself, from his idyllic days on a country squire’s estate to his harsh fate as a London cab horse and his merciful rescue by two kindly old ladies.
Filled with vivid anecdotes about animal intelligence, the novel derives a special magic from the love of all creatures, great and small, apparent on every page. But the book’s lasting impact comes from its descriptions of a human society struggling to find the goodness within itself and its plea for kindness to all creatures - a message so powerful that this favorite classic began a crusade for animal welfare that continues to this day.
Anna Sewell was born in England in 1820. As a young girl, she witnessed great and frequent abuse of horses. A knee injury at 14 left her disabled, but she rode and drove horses very well, controlling them with voice alone, never a whip. She wrote Black Beauty in her 50s and died about a year after it was published in 1877. The book has had a tremendous impact in creating a new wave of humanist thinking towards animals.
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- Jessica Clapp
A Story for the Young at Heart
I read Black Beauty for the first time when I was a young teenager (12-14). Like all girls of that age, I was enamored of horses and I considered BB to be a bible on horses, horse care, people in general, and Anna Sewell was my muse. Fast forward 20 years, and I've actually owned horses. They aren't naturally kind, gentle, magical, intelligent creatures: they just want their next meal and a predictable routine. They kick and bite even the most gentle hands. Obviously kindness toward animals is important, but my rereading as an adult has vastly changed my impression of this book. My own experience with horses aside, the book was preachy and naive--the kind of material that appeals to a young mind as fact, but comes across to a seasoned mind as a disappointment. The world is portrayed in black and white: there are people who are kind and gentle to horses and people who abuse them--there is little in between. The narration and performance was quite good, but the story itself is best for young readers who deal in concrete ideas, not reality.
1 person found this helpful
- Adrienne Brown
a beautiful book
I decided to listen to many of my childhood books and after listening to Black Beauty I was thrilled with my idea. I cried at the end. As an adult I realized that Anna Sewell wrote this book as a lesson for all owners of domestic animals that cannot speak for themselves.
Read this book before getting any creature
The narrator has a lovely, perfectly balanced voice that gives depth and perspective to Black Beauty. Miss Sewell has written a beautiful story about the plight of horses but also no less the known, and possibly unknown, or sufferings of all.
It's terribly sad that after many millennia man is no better or kinder than we see in our historical past. I believe all people who wish to own any creature should listen to this book. My hope is it would stem the unending tide of cruelty to poor, defenseless animals. I think you will find this story to be among your favorite classics.