A limited edition of Black Beauty is being auctioned to raise funds for a horse sanctuary.

Bidding has opened on the 1915 edition of the literary classic, which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year.

The rare edition was donated by a supporter, who asked that the book be sold to help care for horses in need.

It features colour illustrations by Lucy Kemp-Welch and is currently housed at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell as part of a special exhibition celebrating the book’s anniversary.

Black Beauty is the only novel of the late Anna Sewell and was first published in 1877.

It is told through the eyes of a horse who witnesses and experiences kindness and suffering at the hands of humans through his life.

Lynn Cutress, chief executive, said this “stunning edition” is a “most fitting donation”.

“It is not only a rare copy of a classic novel that deserves to be treasured, but a symbol of respect for animals and a lasting reminder of author Anna Sewell’s lifelong passion for preventing horses from suffering,” she said.

The bearing rein was abolished in Victorian Britain following outcry over its depiction in the novel.

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“Since [Anna Sewell’s] time, the world of animal welfare has evolved and there are new laws in place and organisations, like Redwings, working hard to protect animals, such as Black Beauty and his friend Ginger, from suffering neglect and abuse,” added Ms Cutress.

“Sadly, however, our rescue work goes on but as a charity completely funded by donations this can only continue with support from the public.

“We hope as many people as possible will take part in the auction and we wish all bidders the best of luck.”

Silent bids are being taken until 25 November and can be submitted at the museum or via the charity on 01508 481000 or fundraising@redwings.co.uk

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