Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell

This edition adapted by Deidre Laiken and published by Baronet Books in 1977

233 pages

Originally published in 1877, this novel tells the story from the point of view of a horse named Black Beauty. Although I read the abridged and adapted version, it did not lessen the overall mood of this novel, which was heart-rending. The novel focused on people’s cruel treatment towards animals, particularly horses.

As a colt, Blackie grew up with a good master who really cared for his horses. He did not sell him to anyone until Blackie was four years old – old enough to do some jobs. He was sold to Squire Gordon, who lived at Birtwick Park and had a well-kept stable. It was Blackie’s new master that renamed him as Black Beauty.

Black Beauty had a good life at Birtwick Park, having been cared for by good stable grooms while his master was a considerate man who worked his horses accordingly. There also, Black Beauty befriended Merrylegs the pony and Ginger, a female horse. Ginger had had a traumatizing past, in which she had been sold over and over while being subjected to cruelty from many of her previous owners. She only found contentment after being brought to Birtwick Park.

Unfortunately, their happy days at Birtwick Park did not last long. After about three years, their master’s wife had fallen seriously ill and the doctor had suggested the family moved to another place where the climate would be more agreeable to her health. And so the family had to move, and the animals also had to find a new home. Merrylegs was given away to the vicar, while Black Beauty and Ginger found a new home at Earlshall Park.

The mistress of Earlshall Park was a fashion-forward lady who would stop at nothing as long as she looked fashionable. She wanted her carriage horses to also look fashionable, and so Black Beauty and Ginger was reigned so tightly that it hurt them.

Up to this point, Black Beauty had only listened to other horses’ tales about being mistreated. But now, throughout his days at Earshall Park, he finally experienced it first hand. Both Black Beauty and Ginger were worked to the point of exhaustion that in the end they were separated to face different fates.

Black Beauty was later sold to a Mr Barry, who was a good man but did not know anything about managing horses. After changing new grooms and both grooms had failed their duties miserably, Mr Barry thought it was too troublesome to keep a horse and so sold Black Beauty at a horse fair.

Black Beauty was later bought by a Jerry Baker, who was a kindly man with a nice little family. The family also loved Black Beauty so much and treated him with kindness. Although Black Beauty was used as a cab horse as a means for Jerry to make a living, Black Beauty had a good life with Jerry.

Meanwhile, it was during his days as a cab horse that Black Beauty finally met Ginger again, for the last time. Ginger had had a harder life than he did, and she had been so worn out that she looked so ill. Ginger was shot dead not long after, and Black Beauty believed that it was best that Ginger died rather than continuing a miserable life.

Black Beauty’s happy days with the Bakers also came to an end after Jerry fell ill and cannot work as a cab driver anymore. Jerry and his family moved away, but not before Jerry sold Black Beauty to an acquaintance whom he trusted as a good man. Unfortunately, the man in question was not always around to monitor his subordinates' actions and Black Beauty ended up being overworked.

Black Beauty changed owners again and continued to be ill-treated. When he was at the point of exhaustion, Black Beauty had wished he would also drop dead or shot like Ginger had been, for that would ensure the end of his troubles once and for all.

One day, Black Beauty collapsed while being overworked, and was taken ill for some time. When he was finally able to stand again, Black Beauty was auctioned off at a horse fair alongside other broken-down horses.

Black Beauty was bought by Farmer Thoroughgood, who nursed him back to good health before giving him to a trio of elderly sisters who had promised to treat him with kindness. Black Beauty was contented with the women, but he was most happiest when he discovered that the groom at his new home was Joe Green, whom he had known from his happier days back in Birtwick Park. Joe recognized Black Beauty instantly, and Black Beauty was so happy and glad to be reunited with Joe. With the three sisters promising they will never sell him, and having Joe as his groom, Black Beauty knew his life would be in good hands at last.


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