Kathleen Walker-Meikle’s book, The Horse Book, has some background on the well known book Black Beauty. I loved this book as a child and thought I could share what she says about it here.
The novel Black Beauty was written by Ana Sewell ‘to induce kindness , sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses’. Sewell, who was disabled from a young age, became dependent on horse-drawn transport and respected the horses that did this work. The book was a strong call against contemporary cruelty to carriage horses. She particularly took against the bearing rein, which forced horses’ heads up high into an uncomfortable but fashionable position. The book became an international bestseller when published in 1877. It is narrated by Black Beauty, the horse, whose adventures as a carriage horse form the basis of the novel. Other horses that make an appearance include the cab-horse Captain (an old war-horse who had been ridden in the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava.), a cheerful pony named Merrylegs and the tragic Ginger whom Black Beauty last sees as a broken down cab-horse and then dead in a cart.Kathleen Walker-Meikle
I think it would be fair to say that every person who loves horses has probably read this book. It does not sugar coat the plight of horses in Victorian times. Have you read it ?
I’d love to hear from you!