‘Anna would have approved’: special edition of Black Beauty will help horses

  • A special edition of Black Beauty is to be published to help horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

    The University of East Anglia (UEA) is behind the project, working with Redwings, which last year took on guardianship of Black Beauty author Anna Sewell’s childhood home. The announcement was made today (30 March) on what would have been Anna’s 203rd birthday.

    “There have been countless editions of the novel – one of only a handful of works to have sold more than 50 million copies around the world and remain in print 150 years after publication – but never before has its sale been used to directly benefit the animals Anna loved so much,” a Redwings spokesman said.

    “The special edition will be published in November and is available for pre-order now for the advance price of £8 (usual price £9.99). Half of all proceeds will go to Redwings.”

    The edition features a foreword by children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, a “lifelong Black Beauty fan”, and an afterword by UEA professor Thomas Ruys Smith, a specialist in 19th century literature. The publication also marks Redwings’ 40th anniversary next year.

    “We are so excited about this amazing collaboration,” said the charity’s chief executive Lynn Cutress.

    “Anna said her aim in writing this book was to ‘induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses’. Black Beauty is credited with changing attitudes around how we see and work with these magnificent creatures, including helping to bring about a ban on the use of the bearing rein, a cruel piece of tack she highlighted in her novel.

    “This, though, is the first time its sale has directly benefited horses in need, with 50% of the proceeds from every copy sold directly supporting Redwings’ work across the UK. Last year we gave a home to 109 horses and ponies who needed help and our field officers identified and intervened in 175 cases, improving the lives of 622 of these wonderful animals.

    “We are very grateful to the UEA for this opportunity and all their kind support and feel sure this is something Anna would have approved of.”

    Professor Ruys Smith said the project had been an “incredible one”.

    Black Beauty is a book with so many wonderful connections with Norfolk and the world of animal welfare and it has been fascinating to unearth both its local history and its global legacies for this new edition,” he said. “The text is based on the first edition of Black Beauty that Anna hand-dedicated to her aunts, which is now located at the Norfolk Heritage centre. It is designed to be as accessible as possible, produced in a font commissioned by the Braille institute, and will be entirely produced and printed in Norfolk. We hope this special Redwings edition, putting Anna’s novel to work in the service of the horses she so loved, means we might finally be able to come to a proper reckoning with Norfolk’s most successful literary export.”

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