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Black Beauty

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As a young horse, Black Beauty is well-loved and happy. But when his owner is forced to sell him, his life changes drastically. He has many new owners--some of them cruel and some of them kind. All he needs is someone to love him again...
Whether pulling an elegant carriage or a ramshackle cab, Black Beauty tries to live as best he can. This is his amazing story, told as only he could tell it.

245 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1877

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About the author

Anna Sewell

273 books646 followers
Anna Sewell was a kind and generous woman whose great love for horses and desire to see them better treated resulted in the most celebrated animal story of the nineteenth century.

Born into a strict Quaker family who lived at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, she was brought up to believe in the importance of self-reliance, moral responsibility and 'tender consideration for the Creatures of God'. From an early age she developed a strong love of animals and abhorred any form of cruelty towards them. She seemed to have a natural affinity with horses, and the great knowledge of horsemanship evident in Black Beauty was born from a lifetime's experience. Anna received her education at home from her mother, who as well as instilling in her a sense of duty and religion also filled the house with music, painting and poetry - she was herself an accomplished ballad-writer - and Anna soon proved a capable pianist and artist. When she was fourteen, Anna - who already suffered from a crippling bone disease - had a fall which left her an invalid for the rest of her life. By her mid-thirties she was no longer able to get around by herself and relied on a pony cart to transport her. Characteristically she never used a whip on her own horses, and one of her intentions with Black Beauty was to 'induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses'.

Confined to her room through ill-health, Anna started writing Black Beauty in 1871 but later abandoned the project until 1876. Afraid that she would not live to see the book published she worked laboriously on it despite failing health. Her mother found a publisher for the book and a delighted Anna saw her work in print in November 1877. She died five months later and was buried at the family plot near Old Catton in Norfolk. What Anna did not live to see was the effect her 'little book' has had on the millions of people around the world who have read it. It has been translated into many languages and there have been several attempts at filming it. As Anna hoped, Black Beauty has exercised great influence on the treatment of animals, a fact highlighted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommendation of the book.

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Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
October 9, 2021
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

Black Beauty is an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell.

It was composed in the last years of her life, during which she remained in her house as an invalid.

The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success.

With fifty million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time.

The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by the titular horse named Black Beauty—beginning with his carefree days as a foal on an English farm with his mother, to his difficult life pulling cabs in London, to his happy retirement in the country.

Along the way, he meets with many hardships and recounts many tales of cruelty and kindness.

Each short chapter recounts an incident in Black Beauty's life containing a lesson or moral typically related to the kindness, sympathy, and understanding treatment of horses, with Sewell's detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behavior lending the novel a good deal of verisimilitude.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «زیبای سیاه»؛ «سیاه زیبا»؛ نویسنده: آنا سیوئل (سول)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هجدهم ماه نوامبر سال1990میلادی

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ نویسنده: آنا سیوئل (سول)؛ مترجم: منوچهر کریم زاده؛ امید اقتداری؛ تهران، فرهنگخانه اسفار، 1368، در 313ص، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ آنا سیوئل (سوئل)؛ مترجم: فرینوش ایرانبدی؛ تهران، توسن، 1369، در 273ص؛

عنوان: سیاه زیبا؛ آنا سول؛ مترجم: فرمهر منجزی؛ تهران، مدرسه، 1377، در 150ص؛

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ آنا سوول؛ مترجم: عبای راهبی؛ مشهد، نخست، 1380، در 111ص، شابک9649061479؛

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ آنا سوول؛ مترجم: منوچهر کریم زاده؛ امید اقتداری؛ تهران، لوح فکر، 1382، در 255ص، شابک9649403159؛

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ آنا سوول؛ مترجم: جبیب گوهری راد؛ تهران، نیک پیام، 1382؛ در 128ص، شابک9648439001؛

عنوان: زیبای سیاه؛ آنا سول؛ مترجم: شیوا مقانلو؛ تهران، ثالث، 1392، در 200ص، شابک9789643807320؛

داستان این کتاب از زبان یک اسب سیاه، که نخست «سیاه»، و سپس «زیبای سیاه» نامیده می‌شد، بیان می‌شود، و به بیان درد و رنج اسب‌ها در سده ی نوزدهم میلادی، و بیان بدرفتاریهای انسانها با اسبها می‌پردازد؛ کتاب «زیبای سیاه»، رمانی نوشته ی «آنا سوول» است، که نخستین بار در سال1877میلادی منتشر شد؛ «زیبای سیاه»، اسبی جوان، زیبا، خوشرفتار، و قوی است؛ او در ماههای نخستین زندگیش، به همراه مادر عزیز خویش، و نگهدارنده ی مهربانشان، آزاد و رها، در علفزارهایی سرسبز گشت و گذار میکند و میتازد؛ اما زمانی که صاحبان «زیبای سیاه» مجبور میشوند او را بفروشند، او از یک زندگی‌ سرشار از راحتی و مهربانی، به دنیایی پر از رنج و کار و بیرحمی وارد میشود؛ او با شجاعت، تا جاییکه میتواند کار میکند، و از دست انسانهایی رنج میبرد، که با حیوانات بدرفتاری میکنند؛ اما «زیبای سیاه»، روحیه و عزمی شکست ناپذیر دارد، و مصمم است که از آن شرایط جان سالم به در ببرد؛

نقل از متن مترجمان: امید اقتداری، منوچهر کریم‌زاده؛ تهران، لوح فکر، 1382هجری خورشیدی؛ در 255ص: (دیگر داشتم زیبا می‌شدم. پوست سیاه و براقم لطیف و نرم شده بود؛ یک پای سفید داشتم و ستاره‌ ی سفید زیبایی روی پیشانی‌ ام بود؛ همه‌ی این‌ها باعث می‌شد که من را خیلی زیبا بدانند؛ تا چهار ساله نمی‌شدم، صاحبم من را نمی‌فروخت؛ چون عقیده داشت پسربچه‌ ها نباید مانند مردها کار کنند، و کره‌ اسب‌ها تا خوب بزرگ نشده‌ اند، نباید مانند اسب‌ها کار کنند؛ وقتی چهار ساله شدم، «اسکوییر گوردن» آمد من را ببیند؛ چشم‌هایم، دهانم و پاهایم را وارسی کرد؛ همه را لمس کرد، بعد باید پیش روی او راه بروم، یورتمه بروم و تاخت بزنم؛ به نظر می‌آمد که از من خوشش آمده؛ گفت: «وقتی خوب تعلیم داده شود، خیلی خوب از آب درمی‌آید.»؛

صاحبم گفت که خودش من را تعلیم خواهد دارد، چون نمی‌خواهد من بترسم، یا صدمه ببینم؛ برای اینکار وقت تلف نکرد؛ و از همان روز بعد شروع کرد؛ ممکن است همه ندانند تعلیم دادن چیست؛ بنابراین آن را شرح می‌دهم؛ تعلیم یک اسب، یعنی به اسب یاد بدهند که یک زین و یک افسار را تحمل کند، و بر پشتش مرد، زن، یا بچه‌ای را حمل کند؛ و درست همان‌طوری که سوارش می‌خواهد، راه برود، و رفتار آرامی داشته باشد؛ علاوه بر این باید یاد بگیرد که یک یوغ، یک دم‌بند بپوشد، و وقتی که این‌ها را به او می‌پوشانند، بی‌حرکت بایستد؛ بعد یک گاری یا کالسکه خصوصی، به پشتش بسته شود، طوری که اسب نتواند بدون کشیدن آن به دنبالش راه یا یورتمه برود؛ اسب باید به میل سوار خود، تند یا کُند قدم بردارد؛ هرگز نباید از چیزی که می‌بیند رَم کند یا با اسب‌های دیگر حرف بزند؛ یا گاز بگیرد، یا لگد بزند، یا هیچ اراده‌ ای از خودش داشته باشد، و همیشه خواست صاحبش را انجام دهد؛ حتی اگر خیلی خسته یا گرسنه باشد، اما بدتر از همه این است که وقتی یر��ق گذاشته شد، اسب نه موقع شادی، می‌تواند بپرد، و نه موقع خستگی می‌تواند دراز بکشد؛ پس می‌بینید که تعلیم دادن چه چیز مهمی است!؛

من، البته از مدت‌ها پیش به افسار و سربند، و به آرام هدایت شدن در مزرعه، و کوچه‌ها عادت کرده بودم؛ اما، حالا باید یک دهنه و افسار می‌داشتم؛ صاحبم، مثل همیشه مقداری علف به من داد، و پس از آن‌که مقدار زیادی نوازشم کرد، دهنه را در دهانم گذاشت، و افسار را محکم کرد

اما چیزِ نفرت‌انگیزی بود! آن‌هایی که هرگز دهنه در دهانشان نداشته‌ اند، نمی‌توانند بفهمد که دهنه داشتن چه احساس بدی به وجود می‌آورد؛ یک تکه فولاد سردِ سخت، به کلفتی انگشت یک انسان، به داخل دهانت فشار داده می‌شود؛ بین دندان‌ها و روی زبانت! دو انتهای آن از گوشه‌ی لبت بیرون می‌آید و با تسمه‌ هایی روی سرت، زیر گلویت، دور بینی‌ات و زیر چانه‌ات، محکم نگه داشته می‌شود؛ به‌ طوری که به هیچ طریقی نمی‌توانی از شَرِّ این چیزِ نفرت‌انگیزِ سفت خلاص بشوی. خیلی بد است! خیلی بد!؛

دست کم من این‌طور فکر می‌کردم؛ اما می‌دانستم که مادرم همیشه وقتی بیرون می‌رفت، این‌ها را می‌پوشید، و همه‌ ی اسب‌ها وقتی بزرگ می‌شدند، می‌پوشیدند؛ خلاصه، به کمک علف‌های خوش‌مزه، و نوازش‌ها و کلمه‌ های مهرآمیز، و روش ملایم صاحبم، یاد گرفتم که دهنه و افسارم را بپوشم)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 16/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Susan.
125 reviews9 followers
September 10, 2014
This is the first book I ever read. I remember the day that I brought it in to show to my teacher, Miss Gerardi. She asked me if I could read it, so I started reading it aloud to her right away.

The story is told in Black Beauty's own words. Beauty's friends are hard to forget, especially high-spirited Ginger. Anna Sewall's words are full of loving empathy for these beautiful animals. The story was set in 19th century England, at a time when almost everyone came into frequent contact with horses. I hope that her story caused at least a few people to treat them with greater kindness.
Profile Image for James.
Author 18 books3,536 followers
January 6, 2019
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a beautiful story meant for older children or very young adults. It was written in the 19th century by a woman who passed away shortly after its publication. I enjoyed the story and have given it a 3 of 5 stars, which is still very good in my book.

A few interesting things:

1. The point of view in the book is from Black Beauty, the horse.
2. It takes place in London nearly 150 years ago.
3. It's still a cherished story for both pleasure reading and education purposes.

I received it as a gift when I was about 8 or 9, as I had asked for several "classics" for Christmas. When I saw the cover, I thought it looked pretty. But not enough to read it. It sat on my shelf for probably two years until one day, I said "let's just give it a chance." I was afraid it would be too boring... I've always preferred complex plots and strong characters. I wasn't sure this would really work for me. I was wrong!

Seeing how people mistreated and misunderstood animals was a big benefit of the book. It opens your eyes to things from another perspective, and if it helps just a little to develop a bond between younger adults / children and animals, then it's served its purpose.

It's one of those books everyone should read... but not as a forced school assignment. It should be something parents want to share with their kids around 7 or 8... teaching them about how to be respectful and kind to all creatures. And then take them horseback riding to see what it's actually like. That's what I did when I finished it... went with a small group of friends to a riding academy / farm a few towns over and learned about horses for one summer. I kinda miss riding... maybe I should try it again. Off topic again... what is up with me today on these reviews! :)

FYI - Wrote this review ~2017 from memory as I want to have a review for everything I remember reading. If I messed it up, let me know! LOL :)

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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September 7, 2022

My first read on anthropomorphism!!
Having read novels using literary devices as various personifications but none on anthropomorphism, Black Beauty was a cathartic reading journey for me.

Anna Sewell, deep-rooted love for horses and deep-rooted dejection against ill-treatment towards animals, douses the novel with sensitivity, love, kindness and compassion. This novel educates the
public about horses, love, prevailing empathy and apathy towards them.

Being an ardent animal lover, Black Beauty rendered me with an emotional yet an invigorating reading experience. The journey of Black beauty from a colt to a stallion, from an empathic caring owner to an apathic cruel one. Being introduced to different hostlers, horse-friends and experiences from the paddock, open meadows to being stranded in a stable, from facing a fire incident to being shifted to another cleaner one. There is not a single page which I would want to skip or ramble through casually. The comforting words of the caring-owner during the deep dark moments in the novel "Lassie" incite a whirlpool of emotions in an overtly emotional person like me.

I thoroughly enjoyed devouring this beautifully crafted anthropomorphic classic. Far from pontification, Anna Sewell very humbly and realistically takes us through the emotional journey of horses.

I deeply admired the bond and understanding between Black Beauty and the high-spirited Ginger.

It is a deeply involving, compelling and a-must read for everyone.
I will surely revisit this novel whenever I experience a reading slump and want to live with the horses (imaginatively ofcourse!), experience their love, agony and deep compassion for the world and people.

A definite 5-star for this rarest of the rare masterpiece!!!!
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,082 followers
September 18, 2018
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I had never actually owned a copy of this wonderful classic until very recently when I spotted this one well worn and loved in a house clear out of a relative and when I was asked if there was anything I would like to take as a memento I was so happy to give a home to this stunning book. Black Beauty was always out on loan from my school library and as a child I remembering constantly requesting the one copy as it was one the most popular read along with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I adore animals of all shapes and sizes and cannot abide any sort of animal cruelty but this book brings back wonderful childhood memories for me and I think its an important book for children to read and understand that animals have feelings and they too feel pain just as humans do.

What a unique, heart-breaking and compelling read that is as beautiful and poignant today as it was when I read it as a 10 year old girl and am sure it was way back in 1877. The story is narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir told by Black Beauty himself. The Story begins with happy times as a colt on an English farm with his mother and the book continues as he goes through life.
This is a tale of hardships ,cruelty and kindness that broke my heart as child and all over again as an adult. It teaches real life lessons as bad things happen in life and yet there is always goodness out there somewhere, we just have to look for it sometimes.

We shall all have to be judged according to our works, whether they be towards man or towards beast.”
― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

A beautiful book that has pride of place on my bookshelf for I hope many years to come.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 284 books96.9k followers
June 3, 2017
This was one of my very first 'horse' books. I read it when I was nine or ten, and it left a deep impression on me.

Told from the viewpoint of the horse, it starts with Beauty's gentle upbringing and careful training. Well cared for and well mannered, Beauty is a valued animal with a good life at first. But a mishap or two is all it takes for Black Beauty to begin a downward spiral into a world where the appearance of an animal matters far more than its comfort, and into the depths where the only fate for a horse is to be 'used up' in any servitude it can finally be put to.

Like Lassie Come Home, the story does wind to a gentler and comforting ending, but along the way there are some dark times. It's an insight into another time as well as a different view of the world.

Once considered a classic, I don't see it recommended as often as it used to be. So I will recommend it here.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,121 followers
May 2, 2020
"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.".

BLACK BEAUTY, with the help of some of her friends and acquaintances, narrates her own life story in this absolute gem of a children's classic. I've always loved the beauty and grace of horses, but now have an even greater respect and appreciation for them......and their needs.

A few heartbreaking stories are told here, but the positive, encouraging message and education for children and adults alike is priceless.


Profile Image for Melody.
2,623 reviews254 followers
February 11, 2008
I revisited this classic horse story not knowing what to expect, really. I have found that I can't really trust my childhood memories. In this case, however, the years made no difference. The odd thing I noticed while reading this book was how completely I'd internalized the messages regarding animals and how one should treat them. I know that I must have read this 20 or 30 times before I was 14, but I didn't realize that I was memorizing whole chunks of it and grafting it into my moral code. It's a wonderful book.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
510 reviews390 followers
January 29, 2023
Black beauty is one of the most sensitive and heartfelt animal stories I have read. Being an autobiography of a horse, Black Beauty exposes the suffering of horses due to the thoughtless and cruel conduct of humans and advocates the need for their overall welfare. It is said that what inspired Anna to write the only book she ever wrote was to create social awareness of the suffering of horses, and induce them to be treated with kindness, compassion, and understanding.

Although the story is focused on horses, it teaches the world in general the need to be kind, considerate and sympathetic toward all animals. I read this story for the first time when I was about nine. I remember being heartbroken and unhappy for days, for I was a very sensitive child. I’ve heard that some say this book is unsuitable for children as it unsettle their mind. I’m no psychologist and cannot account for its truth, but I think this should be read by children. Kindness, compassion, and sympathy towards all beings are qualities that we have to cultivate in children's minds from an early age. The best mode to instill those qualities in children is to show how other beings suffer in their absence.

Written of the world as seen through the eye of a horse, the story creates a certain sense of shame. Humans as an intelligent species to have treated their inferior beings in the manner described in this story are quite shocking. I’m inclined to think that in modern times we do treat animals far better.

The story is beautifully written. From the first chapter, the reader is drawn into the life of black beauty. It is amazing how strongly the readers get attached to the main character and narrator, black beauty that when he suffers, our heartbreaks and when he is happy and content, our hearts are overjoyed. The simple and sensitive presentation and the truthful and sincere storyline are extremely touching. I enjoyed the read very much, perhaps more so the second time around. My revisit of this beautiful classic was due to a goodreads challenge that I have taken, and I'm really glad to have done so.
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books681 followers
November 25, 2019
Okay it had started as a review but it ended up becoming something totally different. It is rather dark, you have been warned.

"In Defense of Cannibalism"

"I think the story starts when, as a kid, I was a neighbor of this family of slaughterers for a short while and, though they did their work within walls of their house, still sitting inside our home, we could hear the cries of goats, full of pain, as they were being slaughtered. These cries would go on for several minutes. It was unbearable for my family to hear those cries day after day. Personally, I found their reactions more annoying.

I have never liked these kind- hearted people. Animals have always been slaughtered, and most of them never show concern except when it happens right in front of them, which is when their hyper-sensitive imagination starts working and they suddenly grow compassionate. Their compassion creates an inconvenience when things happen in their backyard, an inconvenience which they want removed. They can't care less for animals. They won't mind if it happens at some distance, away from their physical presence.

And this is true generally, even when we are talking about suffering of humans too. There is a reason Europeans do not want immigrants from middle-East. There is also a reason why it needed an hours-long disgusting scene on the roads of their capital city, for Indians to start remembering how terrible the position of their women is. And if we tried so hard to get the criminals punished, it wasn't out some sense of justice, it was just that we were made uncomfortable by the whole scene and needed someone to get our anger out.

A kid falls from his/her bicycle and a good number of these compassionate idiots will gather around him/her, their faces full of concern. Over 6 million children dead due to famine in Somalia, and millions still starving - and I could like to know how many of these kind-hearted spirits get a single hour of sleepless night upon knowing it. Out of sight, out of mind. And if this doesn't flood the newspapers with the news and pictures, there is a reason for it.  Mere knowledge of things is not enough, compassion needs sensory evidence to exist and persist, we know it - we use this knowledge to avoid this inconvenience by denying ourselves sensory evidence. I tell you, nothing makes humans as hypocrite as compassion does.

... I'm getting to it, I know you want me to get to the point about cannibalism. Have patience.

And these people try their best to kill this compassion - so, since they can't imagine themselves killing and eating a cow, they call it a beef. Takes the picture out of mind. And since last thing you want to imagine when you sit down to eat is meat of a pig slaughtered just for you, it is conveniently renamed as pork. A sheep being murdered doesn't cut so nice a picture and so it becomes mutton.

Don't assume for a single moment that I am some sort of animal lover. The last thing I will like to be compared to is one of these PETA folks. I can't care less for them - especially dogs. Man's best friends, you say? The stupid creature can't even catch its own tail. And if any animal deserved a kicking, it is those cats. They need to be shown their places.

Plus, people eat the animals they love. Don't you love turkey or chicken? And oh, fish!

Wait, wait.. let me say what I have to say, it is all related...

And don't even get me started on pet lovers. Whatever they might say, theirs is the most selfish kind of love. Imagine yourself being kidnapped away from your family at a young age by aliens, who can't speak your language, and forced to live with them - seeing other humans only rarely, and allowed sex only at fixed times and that too without any dating. They might love you, smother you with their hugs, care for you, train you to do things you can't see the meaning of, provide you great food as well as crumbs that might fell from their plate, dress you in a beautiful way which is uncomfortable for you - but will you ever overcome the loneliness? Why then do such a thing to a creature you claim you love? I think many people can say that they need pets, but no one can say they deserve one.

Anyways, nothing could be done about our neighbors - they were simply doing their job, only thing they were skilled in. And they were pretty nice folks too - I remember how they were there for us when my mom died.

Also, it didn't stop me or my family from eating our share of chicken's fetus; and I don't grudge people all the cows and pigs they want to eat. Let us face it - they provide all those proteins and nutrients, and they are delicious. But let us also call things by their real names, shall we? A cow is a cow is a cow. A pig by any other name is pig still. And a mutton is a sheep's cooked corpse and an egg is a bird's fetus. Period.

And  before you assume I'm being satirical for promoting vegetarianism or something, I will tell you I never liked those vegetarians - they are only slightly less cruel to animals than pet lovers, I mesn think of all those hens that are being nourished and cared for because there is demand for their children's fetus. Who will care for them if people just stop consuming their product? I, for one, am going do my part to see that they don't get unemployed. Just imagine all the animals these Vegetarians want to be left uncared for, just because of their misguided conscience! Why do you think animals, whose cooked corpses we consume, never go extinct? Because we provide food and shelter to them before we kill them. It is only animals that serve humanity some purpose that are above danger of extinction. It is only by eating goats, we make sure that they don't go extinct.

But I deviate yet again. To turn back to the story of my neighbors, the thing was made much worse because they killed the animals according to Hallal method (the method permitted by Islam) - not merely killing at once with a single blow (animals about to become food aren't shot before being killed anywhere in India as far as I know and you can forget stunning); but were rather killed in a slow and painful method of blood loss while a prayer is read over them. Don't jump to conclusions again. They were compassionate people - animals were well fed before they were killed, they won't let an animal see the blade being sharpened or another animal slaughtered before it. See, they felt for the animal.

Compassionate killers have always been there. Some ancient Hindu kings who hunted animals for fun often considered dishonorable to kill animals engaged in sex or pubs or breastfeeding mothers. And of course holy cows!

Wait a little more... I'm just about to get to cannibalism.

Personally I think that to relief an animal of useless pain could be better but only slightly - as whether or not they are stunned, animals will lose their lives anyway. But I'm sure there will be some compassionate souls who will advocate for less painful methods of killing them.

Also, it is this Hallal practice that made one of my favorite Sufi poets, Bulleh Shah, comment "Hallal nalo murdar bhala" (dead is better than Hallal food) - arguing that he could rather eat the dead than Hallal food.

Now a lot of people think he was talking about dead animals, not humans, but that is only yet again the superiority complex which make humans think that they aren't one of the animals anymore. I, for one, was shocked when I learnt that cannibalism is considered a barbarous practice.

At first, I could not understand what was so barbarous about cannibalism? it hardly harms anyone. I mean the dead they eat are ... you know, dead and their bodies would be wasted otherwise. If anything, it is a better utilization of resources. Think of all the proteins, minerals and stuff. And I bet human eyes must be delicious too - all you can say about other dead animals is true for dead humans too, and it is much better than animals killed specifically for consumption. Moreover, you will either bury or burn your dead. The first consumes a lot of land which could house homeless humans (or hens left unemployed because of those mean, mean vegetarians) and second causes pollution; besides the already stated wastage of resources - in a time when children are dying of hunger! And it saves money too, think of it, the dead could finance the food served in their own funeral! And before you give reasons of sentiments of their family, I agree, the dead are someone's parents who have, for years, fed their children. Do you think they will grudge them a last nutritious meal? In case they are someone's significant other, remember, lovers bite each-other all the time. And you can spare the bones for your beloved dog.

Also, if you eat some other dead animal, you are called non-vegetarian; but if you eat a dead human, you become a cannibal. Why make the distinction at all? Because of that superiority complex again? Because it will make non-vegetarians comfortable? There you go, the whole beef and pork thing all over again. Let us use one word for all such humans - either cannibal or non-vegetarian. I prefer cannibal. It sounds sexier. And while we are at it, let us include vegetarians too - it is only human ignorance which makes us presume that just because plants can't scream, they don't feel the pain. Lack of sensory evidence, my friend!;There is no difference between plants or animals - so vegetarians need not be high-brow either. We all kill, cause pain, to eat. We are all cannibals.

I think, if you have followed my chain of reasoning,  we can safely say that we are all already cannibals, so why waste dead humans? If you were struck in an island with corpse of a friend who just died and a living animal, won't it be more humane to eat the corpse instead of killing the beast for food? Why kill living animals, when we can have dead humans?"

Those were the thoughts that I discussed with a friend, who had listened impatiently and then after some reflection told me something which showed me the obvious fault in this scheme, which I, being slow to understand such things, hadn't noticed that far.  

"You don't understand anything about civilization. Being civilized," he told me,  "means that we show more compassion to dead humans than living animals."
Profile Image for Bhavya .
476 reviews834 followers
May 11, 2022
“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”

~ First Read- 2013 ~
~Second Read- 2021 ~

~First Rating- 4 stars ~
~Second Rating- 5 stars ~

Content / Trigger Warnings-
Animal Cruelty

Note- I have tried to include all the content warnings that I noticed, but there is no guarantee that I haven’t missed something.

-Mention of some of these in the review-

“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham - all a sham, James, and it won't stand when things come to be turned inside out and put down for what they”

Black Beauty, a beautiful horse, has spent his youth in a loving home, surrounded by friends and cared for by his owners. But when his circumstances change, he learns that not all humans are so kind. This book, told from the perspective of a horse, is about Black Beauty's experiences in his different homes.

“It is good people who make good places.”

I read Black Beauty for the first time when I was a kid. I recall picking up a dusty old copy from my school library, and finding the idea of a book told from the perspective of a horse intriguing. I remember being enchanted by the story, flipping through pages with curiosity, and being very interested in what Black Beauty had to say. I was horrified by the wicked way he was treated, and my face burned with fury at every monstrosity he went through.

“Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?... It is because people think only about their own business, and won't trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrong-doers to light... My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”

On my reread- around seven years later, I still felt the same way, but I also felt so much more. I noticed how despite this book being a book about animal cruelty, it was a also a display of society, as most classics are. It shows us that if are 'different' in any way, we will be belittled and mocked. We will be criticized, our ideas will be dismissed and we will be considered 'separate' from the rest, for no reason other than just existing. We will be the Black Beauties of the world, and everyone else will disregard us. They will not see our strength or our courage. They will think of us as unimportant. As weak. Or at least, that's my interpretation of it.

“What right had they to make me suffer like that?”

Black Beauty made me question and think a lot about animals. I've never been a huge animal lover, but I'd never thought much about the struggles animals go through before reading this book. It enlightened me on several things, and even though this book was written years ago, I believe it is relevant even today.

“Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find things out for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was more prompt and perfect in it's way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.”

Maybe if I revisit this book in a few years, my thoughts will change. Or maybe they will remain the same. But there is no denying, that Black Beauty is an impactful story, in spite of being a simple tale. Most importantly, its a reflection of how some humans treat animals. It provides an insight on how we sometimes ignore the feelings of others for our own selfish needs. It is in my opinion, a masterpiece.

“This horse has got a good master, and he deserves it.”

Review written on 21st January, 2022.

DISCLAIMER-All opinions on books I’ve read and reviewed are my own, and are with no intention to offend anyone. If you feel offended by my reviews, let me know how I can fix it.

How I Rate-
1 star- Hardly liked anything/ was disappointed
2 star- Had potential but did not deliver/ was disappointed
3 stars- Was ok but could have been better/ was average / Enjoyed a lot but something was missing
4 stars- Loved a lot but something was missing
5 stars- Loved it/ new favourite


5 stars again. Loved my reread. Review to come.
Profile Image for Kerri.
972 reviews344 followers
April 27, 2020
I think this was my first 'favourite book'.

I've read it over and over again, and I still cry every single time, at so many different points. It's such a beautiful book and I always feel it so deeply. The way some people treat animals (and each other) can be appalling. On the other hand, some people can be incredibly wonderful, the kind of person we all should want to be, and hopefully know (this applies to both the book and life in general of course). Black Beauty's life has a great many ups and downs and although I know the story so well I go through a roller coaster of emotions as I read. Lots of sad parts, many painful truths that are unfortunately still very relevant today and also some very happy, beautiful times. 🍁
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,806 followers
January 16, 2013
I'm sorry, I read this book when I was 6 or 7 and it almost scarred me for life..the sight of Ginger's body being carted away stayed with me for years. Between this, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Yearling, and of course Old Yeller I have to assume that somewhere there is a Marquis de Sade school of children's literature. I never gave these to my children as they were growing up (they had to make do with Narnia, Charlie Bucket, and some others). Neither the books nor the movies did I take them to. If they want to read them later on their own, that's up to them.

Note....There is a spoiler below line.--------------

I hated it.

Update Jan. 2013

Okay I originally reviewed this in 2009 (just after my wife died). There has been a lot of "controversy" over my dislike of this book (as there has been over my reviews of Old Yeller, The Yearling, etc., etc...). This was (I think) the first book my dad bought me when it became clear I was reading well beyond my "school fellows" (I was 6 I think).

I hated this book. I still retain the picture in my mind of Ginger being removed lolling head and all. In my life I've had enough of pain. As a kid (on a farm) I had 2 dogs shot lost a dog to distemper and had to deal with deaths of other animals I loved. I also had to deal with the loss of people I loved.

My dad (and mom) were of the generation that said, "their just animals". I believe they thought that stories like The Yearling, The Red Pony and so on toughened kids up and prepared them for life. The fact I actually loved my pets was almost foreign to them. They saw no difference (or little difference) in a dog and a hog or a beef cow or whatever.

I have dealt with the actual pain of loss in life and I see no reason to spend good time and money to experience artificial emotional pain. Yes life can be hard, but love is worth it. In the darkest view of things to love anyone or anything is a down-payment on pain. To love a pet or a person one of you will in most cases die first. Still to concentrate on that misses the truth that with pain there is a time of love.

C.S.Lewis said:“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

I don't think inoculating a child with stories like Old Yeller helps them. It actually helps build those walls. As I noted. The books still exist. If my kids choose to read them they can. They're both adults now. I think they actually effected me negatively and chose not to expose my kids to them. Had one of them brought one of these books home from the school library I'd have warned them it was sad but they would then have read it, I wouldn't have forbidden it. I just didn't choose to supply that experience.

We have lost pets to death and from that I think they have understood that life ends. Their mother (my wife) died in 2009. They know people you love pass. I don't think children need these books to "get it". Each parent will decide on their own...but MY EXPERIENCE of these books has been negative and I rate them accordingly. Each here may rate and review them as they see fit...please if these are books you like enjoy.

I've lived life and don't need my free time reading (or indeed viewing) to tell me how life can hurt.

Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,075 reviews104 followers
April 14, 2019
Anna Sewell's evocative, poignant and yes, often devastatingly brutal autobiography of a horse, her 1877 Black Beauty, is a novel which even though I very much and dearly cherish and appreciate (and consider it even a personal favourite), I am also glad to have first read as an adult, and NOT as a child. For with horses being amongst my favourite animals, particularly Black Beauty's many many trials and tribulations, his often neglectful and at times even deliberately cruelly abusive grooms and owners, the fact that there are also horses depicted who succumb, who perish due to abuse and neglect (with poor Ginger's suffering and death being especially sad, heartbreaking and infuriating), all this would have likely been much much too saddening for my sensitive childhood self (and indeed, I would thus not automatically recommend Black Beauty for younger children, and would also strongly encourage parents and caregivers to pre-read the novel, to check if the subject matter could perhaps not be too much for very sensitive children, and especially children who are ethical vegetarians or vegans).

But as an adult (and I first read Black Beauty at around age twenty or so), I can not only appreciate both Beauty's life story, but also (and perhaps even more so) the historical fact that Anna Sewell's masterpiece (written with pathos, understanding, humanity, but also with gentleness and tenderness) actually did have a profound and socially relevant effect in so far that particularly in Great Britain, there was a deliberate move started to make life easier and less strenuous, less harsh for especially work and carriage horses (the eventual banning of the bearing reign which caused horses' heads to basically be yanked into a permanently unnaturally high position, and the even more horrid docking, cutting of horses' tails were two of the most well-known and necessary changes brought about partially due to the popularity of Black Beauty and the public outcry its publication engendered).

Now Black Beauty is in many ways a narrator who thinks and feels as a human being, albeit he is also not ever a typical anthropomorphic human-like entity, as he cannot speak, and still looks, moves and acts like a typical horse. And this is actually the case with most of the other horse characters described in Black Beauty, as Ginger, Merrylegs, even Beauty's own mother all think and emote as humans would, with their thoughts and musings presented by Anna Sewell, but always they do act and react like typical horses, not like horses in a humanoid costume, a for me profound and appreciated consideration, as I have never truly enjoyed very anthropomorphic animals all that much, especially if they act not according to their nature, but according to how humans would act and react (thus, if Black Beauty were to have actually spoken aloud, if he had been depicted as a quasi talking horse, I would definitely not have enjoyed his story quite as much).

And considering that Anna Sewell was an invalid since an accident at age fourteen, and often confined to her bed (in almost constant, often excruciating pain for most of her adult life, she died soon after Black Beauty's publication), the themes and also the writing style are exquisite and nuanced, balanced, showing not only Black Beauty's trials and tribulations, but also equally demonstrating tenderness, joy and much happiness (Beauty's life with his mother and original aristocratic owners, even his first sojourn as a London cab horse are happy, the latter being a rather hard working existence perhaps, but with a kind and thoughtful owner/driver who as much as possible strives to ease the often difficult conditions Beauty faces, until he himself falls ill due to thoughtless aristocratic customers keeping the carriage waiting in the pelting rain and snow, as they arrogantly enjoy society's extravagances). And while Anna Sewell's masterpiece does, indeed, hold very clear and powerful pleas for a change in attitudes towards horses, towards poverty, it is nevertheless Black Beauty's own story that shines through (Black Beauty is thus not simply preachiness, and while the messages are obvious and thankfully strongly and impassionately presented, the plot, the themes, the tale itself always comes first and is as readable and as approachable today as it was in the late 19th century, when it was first published).
Profile Image for Britany.
951 reviews413 followers
September 24, 2019
This was my favorite book growing up as a child. I was obsessed with horses and living in a barn. Black Beauty was the ultimate fan-girl horse book and I ate it up as a little girl. Revisiting this as an adult was equally impactful.

I teared up multiple times as I re-lived Beauty and the slew of his bad owners, his poor knees and despite it all his good, tender heart. This is my favorite animal character in any book and Beauty still has a beloved space that I'll cherish in my soul. This book still holds up over time and one I may revisit again.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,550 reviews473 followers
December 11, 2010
Black Beauty is one of those rare books that can preach without being preachy. Anna Sewell wrote this to illustrate the abuse of horses, in particulary the harsh use of the bearing rein. The bearing rein was used to get the horse's head arched, but made it difficult for the horse to breathe and near impossible for the horse to pull a carriage uphill. When Sewell died, the hearse to carry her body used horses with bearing reins. Her mother went out and made the driver get rid of them.

Another Sewell story. On her way home, driving her own trap, she was able to tell that her horse picked up a stone simply though the reins.
Sewell was an awesome woman.

Sewell was truly a horsewoman and an educator, both of which are on display in Black Beauty. The plot deals with the abuse and mistreatment of horses; it teaches and raises awareness while it entertains. Sewell respects readers of all ages enough not to shy away from unpleasentness, though she never ever descends into shock value (and disregards more pressing questions for the adult reader wonders if Beauty is a gelding). She makes both her animal and human characters real and doesn't over romantize the story, as has been done in some adaptions of her work.

If you liked this book, you might want to check down Black Beauty's Family.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,178 reviews2,240 followers
July 26, 2022
This book happens to be one of my most favourite 2021 reads.

It's packed with emotions and beautiful writing.
The characters are memorable and, most of all, it taught me so many things about horses. I never thought I would be this invested when it comes to stories about horses!

What I came across through this read is that only a few men know how to be actually kind. And it just breaks my heart.

I wish I could save the horses. They are so overworked and being abused. All they need is some good care and kindness.

Is it okay for men to be cruel towards them just because they cannot speak?

If you haven't read this beautiful classic yet, please do pick it up. It's fast-paced and you will love the characters, the horses and a few people who are dedicated towards them.

"My life was now so utterly wretched that I wished I might, like Ginger, drop dead at my work, and be out of my misery."

I just cannot stop crying.

Pick up this book if you haven't yet!
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
785 reviews564 followers
December 29, 2021

A Goodreads member requested some of the Black Beauty quotes be cleaned up. I owned this copy and it became easier to reread and try to fix as many quotes as I could while reading. (I should note that doing this is quite definitely a one-off & that I was intending to read this book next year anyway!)

This is the story of Black Beauty's rise and then fall through the ranks through no fault of his own. BB's voice is quite definitely Ms Sewell's, a kindly woman who wanted to see horses (still the main form of transportation in the 1870s) treated (quite a bit) better. You really feel that BB has a few things he wants to get off his chest!

They always seemed to think that a horse was something like a steam-engine, only smaller. At any rate, they seemed to think that if they only pay for it, a horse is bound to go just as far, and just as fast, and with just as heavy a load as they please.

Sewell/BB do feel compassion for the poor working class cabbies who have no choice but to work horses they have rented seven days a week. Ginger's

Anyone who is thinking of buying a horse (or any other domestic animal) should read this.

Sewell died a few months after this book was first published. I hope she did get at least to taste a small measure of the book's success.

Profile Image for Debbie Zapata.
1,758 reviews29 followers
March 3, 2016
Do not be expecting an objective review here. I have loved this book since a copy was given to me at the end of my sixth grade school year and have read it so many times I practically know it by heart. And as a matter of fact, I still have that very book! Here is the GR link for it, which did not take me nearly as long to find as I thought it might (there are nearly 800 editions of Black Beauty listed).

The story follows Black Beauty from his days as a foal through training, happy times, sad days, and many unexpected changes in both living and working conditions. We meet the people around him: good ones like John Manly and Jerry Barker, and bad ones like Lady W---. We get to know his friends: Merrylegs the pony, Ginger the high-spirited chestnut mare, Captain the ex-cavalry horse who survived what my adult self recognizes as the Charge Of The Light Brigade in the Crimean war.

Throughout the book we witness the cruel treatment many horses received during Black Beauty's day. As frightening as city streets can be in modern times, with drivers of all skill levels behind the wheels of cars of all shapes and sizes, the London streets of the past would have been much much worse. Cars at least don't think for themselves. But imagine the horses! Being told what to do and where to go, but still with their own brains at work. If one got scared, it could trigger a catastrophe all around.

This book was meant to show the inhumane treatment of horses, and to suggest better ways to behave. I have read a few copycat books written not long after Black Beauty was published, but this is the only one that gets the point across without being annoyingly preachy or interrupting the flow of the story. I thought Sewell's methods were quite effective.

Black Beauty was my dream horse when I was younger, as I am sure he will be for many girls for years to come. It would be poetic for me to say that I thought of this book when I began working with horses myself, and remembered to use Sewell's gentle and friendly approach. But I loved any and all horses so much that it never would have occurred to me to behave any other way.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book463 followers
May 7, 2016
A timeless story that should be required reading for everyone, whatever the age. When this book was written, horses were used for every kind of pleasure and work, and were part of most upper class households. Many thought of them the way we think of cars, vehicles there for our use and disposable when they no longer meet our requirements. These, however, are sentient creatures, with needs and feelings, and Sewell wrote a moving and informative piece in their behalf.

Who would not fall in love with Black Beauty; who would not suffer for these noble creatures when they are mistreated? The descriptions of check-reining made me feel sick for the horses and completely angry with the people who would do such a thing for fashion's sake alone. Some of the horses were treated well with poor owners and some badly with wealthy owners, proof that the difference was in the heart of the person who owned them. Sewell set out to expose the cruelty and idiocies of animal mistreatment and she succeeded in spades.

We don't have the exposure to horses that this society did. There are not horses in our streets and we do not use them for hauling our goods to market, but there are still lessons to be learned here. You can see the results of mistreatment of dogs and other domestic animals as close as your internet connection or your local animal shelter. Man failing to appreciate the animals around him is an age old problem and one that still requires our attention and improvement.

This is the first book that has made me cry quite a while!
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,748 reviews1,214 followers
January 19, 2023
This book probably deserves 5 stars or at least 4, and I do recommend it to everyone, especially to girls who love horses. I’m giving it only 3 stars, however, not because I wasn’t one of those girls who were big horse fans (which I wasn’t really), but because for me it was just too emotionally harrowing. This might have been the first book I ever read that made me sick with depression. The horse goes through a lot of suffering in this book. Not for the overly sensitive but a beautifully told story. Terrific one for teaching empathy for non human animals.
January 11, 2021
“I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play.”

This book was such a pleasant surprise! I did not expect it to be such a page-turner. With its short, straight-to-the-point chapters; the didactic yet never preachy writing style, the clean prose, and the beautiful characters, it made an amazing quick read that will definitely stay in my mind for quite some time. According to the author, this book was supposed to be a sort of "manual" to show people how to treat a horse the right way - changes in the economy had made the use of horses more widespread and many people found themselves in the situation of owning horses but with no experience on how to train them or take care of them - but it reads more as a "manual" on how to be a decent human being, by seeing the cruelty and kindness in men through the nonplussed eye of an animal. Reading this bittersweet story about the delicate relationship between humans and animals, one cannot help to think about those times when, as a kid, we used to play "animals", and try to imagine how a horse would think and talk. Beautiful, enticing read; sometimes heartbreaking. It made me aware of some awful ways people used to treat horses back then. Oh well, some treat them like that today still. A reminder to always be kind with all creatures, regardless of how many legs they have. Heartwarming ❤
Profile Image for Irmak.
400 reviews835 followers
October 21, 2017
Kitaba başlamadan önce bir atın hikayesini okuyacağımı biliyordum fakat kitabın iç kapağında yazan 'bir atın otobiyografisi' yazısını görmediğim için atın ağzından okumayı beklemiyordum. O yüzden kitaba başladığımda bu durum beni şaşırttı.

Siyah İnci Anna Sewell'in yayınlanan ilk ve tek kitabıymış. Geçirdiği bir rahatsızlıktan dolayı hayatının geri kalanında at arabasında taşınmak zorunda kalmış Anna Sewell ve bu rahatsızlığın ölümcül olduğunu öğrendikten sonra yazmış Siyah İnci'yi. Atlara olan düşkünlüğü ve sevgisi yüzünden onların bazılarına yapılan eziyetlere bir tepki olarak yazılmış bu kitap. İyi ki de yazılmış.

Kedilerden sonra en sevdiğim hayvan attır. Onlardaki asaletin hiçbir canlıda olduğunu düşünmüyorum. O yüzden kitaba karşı daha başlamadan bir sempatim vardı ve başladıktan sonra da büyük bir keyifle okudum. Kitaptan bu kadar keyif almamın en büyük etkilerinden birisi de çeviriydi. Kitabın çevirisi gerçekten son derece duru ve akıcıydı. Okurken sizi asla zorlamayacak bir klasik Siyah İnci, zaten çocuk klasikleri arasında yer alıyor. Keşke çocukken okumuş olsaydım dedim bazen, eminim ki o zaman daha başka bir tat alacaktım bu kitaptan.

Kitapta Siyah İnci'nin başından geçen ve şahit olduğu olayları okuyoruz. Doğduğu çiftlikte ona oldukça iyi davranan sahipleri olan Siyah İnci hayatın atlar için hep böyle güzel olduğunu düşünüyordu ama satılacak kadar büyüdüğü zaman başkasına satıldı Siyah inci ve insanların atlara karşı ne kadar kötü olabileceğini öğrendi. Ve birkaç sahip değiştirmek zorunda kaldı. Zaman zaman yük atı olarak kullanıldı, ata binmeyi bile bilmeyen insanlara denk geldi ama şanslıydı Siyah İnci. Her zaman bir yerlerde iyi insanlar da çıkıyordu karşısına.

Bence herkes Siyah İnci ile tanışmalı ve herkes kendisini hayvanların yerine koyabilmeli. Onlara boşuna Allahın sessiz kulları denmiyor. Sana muhtaç olan bir canlıya yaptığın eziyet sana bir gün fazlasıyla dönecektir. Bugüne kadar bana muhtaç olan bir canlıya hiçbir zaman arkamı dönmeye vicdanım el vermedi, yolda bulduğum ya da bir şekilde karşıma çıkan bütün yaralı hayvanlara yardım etmek için elimden geleni yaptım. Bu yüzden hayvanlara zulmeden insanları asla anlamadım, anlayamayacağım da. Bu kitap, çocuklara hayvanların insanlardan beklediği şeyin ilgi, sevgi olduğunu anlatabilecek en güzel kitaplardan birisi. Bence her çocuk bu kitabı mutlaka okumalı ve hayvanları severek büyümeli.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,877 reviews3,383 followers
November 16, 2019
Lessons learned from this book: people are shit. *lol* Nothing new or groundbreaking but maybe readers back then (1877) thought differently. In any case, Anna Sewell found a marvellous way to show humans just how dreadful they can be - through the eyes of an animal.

This is the life story of a horse that has had many names. The first of those names was Black Beauty. He was born from a long line of fine horses, growing up in a wonderful place but eventually being sold. Many different things happen to him along the way, showing nice owners who care deeply and affectionately for their animals, violent drunks, ignorant fools, lazy people, hard workers and people who pretend to be "good Christians" but who really are just spiteful.

Thus, the reader gets to see Black Beauty's carefree days as a colt, how he grew up to be a sweet-tempered horse, how he worked hard and had to endure quite a number of injustices (though not as many as other horses we learn about), even pulling cabs in London, and the friends he made (both human and animal) throughout his life.

My favourite character, to this day I'm pleased to report, is Ginger. My heart always breaks for her.

Some things are hard to read about as well they should be. Animal welfare might not be perfect nowadays but we've certainly come a long way from the days when horse tails were cut off with no anasthesia, flesh and hair and all because it was supposed to look better!

While we see Victorian England, both in the countryside and big city, through the eyes of a horse, we get to see living and working conditions of both rich people and lowly workers as well as the financial situations of the different classes.
Funny fact: Amongst other things, the book describes conditions among London horse-drawn taxicab drivers, including the financial hardship caused to them by high licence fees and low, legally fixed fares. Soon after the book was published, the difference between 6-day taxicab licences (not allowed to trade on Sundays) and 7-day taxicab licences (allowed to trade on Sundays) was abolished and the taxicab licence fee was much reduced. No idea if the book was responsible but it might have drawn people's attention to this injustice and thus helped to change the situation for the better. I'd like to think so at least.

Mainly, the book teaches about animal welfare and that their lives count just as much as human lives (a radical idea back then and, depending on whom you're talking about, even today). But the book generally talkes about how to lead a good life, how to treat anyone and anything with kindness, sympathy, and respect.

A wonderful classic that I'm very glad I revisited.
Profile Image for Barry Cunningham.
Author 1 book183 followers
September 10, 2017
I read this book in my very early teens and loved it, it was a classic then and a classic now, beautifully written it just fires up a young persons imagination and evokes emotions. If you have not read this book then you must.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 4 books571 followers
October 13, 2015
Note, Oct. 13, 2015: The review below is premised on the idea that this is a children's book; it's typically treated as such today, and I did read it as a kid. But my fellow Goodreader Fiona just made me aware that Sewall actually intended the novel for adult readers. This should be kept in mind in approaching and interpreting it!

Since this is basically a children's book, my rating is based on my reaction to it as a child reader. If I re-read it now and rated it as adult fiction, probably the rating wouldn't be as high; and it's also the case that the book wouldn't be as easily read or understood by modern kids as it was by their Victorian counterparts. Only the more motivated and better readers in that age group would be apt to give it 4 stars today.

This "Autobiography of a Horse" narrates an equine life running pretty much the gamut of possible horse experiences (except for cavalry service) in the 19th century, many of them decidedly unpleasant. Sewall's message is a forceful and entirely justified plea for decent and humane treatment of the animals whose well-being is so dependent on us. The book is well-written (being intended for younger readers, its prose is more direct and straightforward than that of much Victorian adult fiction); its human and animal characters are vividly-drawn individuals, the pacing is brisk, and it has a satisfying, full-circle kind of plot. To maintain her conceit of a horse narrator, of course (and to do so for an audience too young to respond to the drastically different style of thinking and narrating that would actually be expected from an animal if it could speak), the author makes her horses much more intelligent and anthropomorphic, and much more capable of verbal communication with each other, than they probably really are. Black Beauty, Ginger, and Merrylegs come across essentially as humans in horse bodies. This makes it easier for kids to identify with them, and to see them as entitled to kind treatment; but it arguably sets that conclusion up for refutation and rejection once the readers realize that this picture of horses isn't accurate. Possibly it might be better not to make the case for decent treatment of animals depend on an anthropomorphic view of them, but rather on the fact that they do have feelings and needs which it diminishes us to ignore and deny. It's also true that children who have no experience at all of horses being used as draft animals might find the issues posed here hard to understand or relate to. But for kids --and adult readers-- who can understand the underlying concept, this book has all sorts of modern-day applications to issues, such as factory-style farming, pet neglect, use (or abuse) of animals for "research" purposes, etc.
Profile Image for Eliza.
593 reviews1,380 followers
August 26, 2017
I read this as a child, many years ago. All I remember is that I loved the story, and wanted my mom to read it to me at least once a month.
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