Black Is Definitely Beautiful!

Black Beauty; Anna Sewell; Penguin Classics

– Shana Susan Ninan

Written by English author Anna Sewell, Black Beauty is a heart-warming autobiographical tale of a horse. It is divided into 49 small chapters across four parts. The story is narrated in the voice of Black Beauty a beautiful horse that grew up to a kind master but saw many hardships and cruelty during his lifetime. Sewell was inspired by Bessie, her brother horse, to write Black Beauty. She completed and published it in 1877. Her mother, an established children’s author, helped Sewell to finish it.

Sewell, in a fall when she was 14, injured her knees. This left her a cripple for life. Sewell grew up around horses and was even a great driver. It is said that she could guide her horses with just her voice; of course, she never used a whip, and abhorred the bearing reins (check rein, in the book). Black Beauty, too, suffers a fall in her younger days and is rendered ‘ugly’ due to the scar on her knees. As a result, she’s sold to cab drivers. Sewell, in her crippled state, is quite comparable to Beauty himself – cornered, powerless but willing to live.

Black Beauty has several masters – both kind and rude – in the story. There’s his first owner, Farmer Grey: a good-natured fella, who trained Black Beauty well. Then the Squire Gordon, on whose farm was Joe green and John Manly. This is the same Joe Beauty meets in his last home. Nicholas Skinner, an absolutely heartless cab horse owner, whose greed nearly kills Beauty, must be the villain of the story!

The only novel by Sewell, it was written during her last years. Post-1850s were the time when the greedy businessmen sprang up in England. The Industrial Revolution saw many people flocking to the cities. With men came their horses. The fact that they needed their horses to cart coal and to transport them around didn’t really translate to treating the horses well. Most were overloaded, breaking their wind outta them. All the whipping and the tight reins didn’t do any good either.

Upon reading this novel, Sewell’s words will tread on your softer side. It was my seventh time reading this beautiful tale, but I had tears in my eyes when I came to the part where Beauty explains the torture he goes through. This book teaches us to treat animals kindly, but moreover to treat our fellow humans, too, with kindness and care.

Black Beauty has inspired several movies, serials and TV programs.

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Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)
Black Is Definitely Beautiful! , 9.2 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010 at 9:22 pm and is filed under Appreciation, Children's Classic, Classics, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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