Author(s): Anna Sewell
Black Beauty is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she remained in her house as an invalid. The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success. With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time.The text advocates fairer treatment of horses in Victorian England. The story is narrated from Black Beauty's perspective and resultantly readers arguably gained insight into how horses suffered through their use by human beings with restrictive technical objects like the "bearing rein" and "blinkers" as well as procedures like cutting off the tails of the horses. For instance, Ginger describes the physical effects of the "bearing rein" to Black Beauty, by stating, "... it is dreadful... your neck aching until you don't know how to bear it... its hurt my tongue and my jaw and the blood from my tongue covered the froth that kept flying from my lips". Tess Coslett highlights that Black Beauty's story is structured in a way that makes him similar to those he serves. The horses in the text have reactions as well as emotions and characteristics, like love and loyalty, which are similar to those of human beings. Coslett emphasises that, while Black Beauty is not the first book written in the style of an animal autobiography, it is a novel that "allows the reader to slide in and out of horse-consciousness, blurring the human/animal divide".