War Horse author writes foreword to special Black Beauty edition

  • A “keepsake” illustrated edition of Anna Sewell’s children’s classic Black Beauty has been published by The Folio Society.

    The new edition of the 1877 book— one of the best selling children’s novels of all time — contains 15 full-colour images by illustrator Annette Hamley-Jenkins.

    The Folio Society has specialised in producing illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books for 70 years, many of which contain forewords by leading figures in their fields.

    For this edition, the introduction has been written by award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo, best known for writing War Horse.

    “Many writers spend a lifetime working towards literary recognition; Anna Sewell wrote a single book and it is still one of the best-selling titles of all time, having sold more than 50 million copies worldwide,” a spokesman for The Folio Society said.

    “Its longevity is testament to the simple yet enduring theme of animals’ interaction with humans, and children still laugh and cry with the equine protagonist as sincerely as when Black Beauty was first published nearly 150 years ago.”

    Anna Sewell grew up relying on horses for transport after badly injuring her ankles when she was 14. In writing Black Beauty, she hoped to promote kindness and empathy in their treatment.

    The tale follows the life of a striking black colt, who spends the first four years of his life living an idyllic existence on a farm. He is then sold on to begin his life as a working horse, where he learns of learns of mankind’s propensity to maltreat animals.

    Anna wrote the book on her sick bed, dictating much of the text to her mother, and never knew of its success, dying five months after its publication in 1877.

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    The book went on to be translated into more than 50 languages as well as spawning numerous film and TV adaptations. Anna’s wish to help improve the lives of horses was also fulfilled — it was considered to have an affect in reducing cruelty, while bearing reins, which caused suffering for many driven horses, rapidly went out of fashion in the years following its release.

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