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Black Beauty (Wordsworth Children's…

Black Beauty (Wordsworth Children's Classics) (original 1877; edition 1951)

by Anna Sewell (Author)

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12,499157326 (3.91)1 / 402
A horse in nineteenth-century England recounts his experiences with both good and bad masters.
Title:Black Beauty (Wordsworth Children's Classics)
Authors:Anna Sewell (Author)
Info:Whitman Publishing Company
Collections:Read in 2020, Read after joining LibraryThing, Recommended Books

Work details

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (1877)

Recently added byMuffinMom, janeandelman, WPHECSPEC, pvlmc, AmberLKnight
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English (154)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
Autobiography - I would not think I would like such books. I like historical fiction about real people. I guess you could call this historical fiction. Really though - it is an autobiography about a horse that lived in the 1800's. Very interesting and mostly well done. Every now and then a "this is how you should live your life/treat people" chapter was thrown in that I would not have missed.
12,423 members; 3.9 average rating; 5/2/2020 ( )
  mainrun | May 22, 2020 |
"John had many stories to tell of dogs and horses, and the wonderful things they had done. He thought people did not value their animals half enough, nor make friends of them as they ought to do." (pg. 72)

I'm always pleased when a book surpasses my low expectations and presumptions, so I enjoyed Black Beauty more than its objective quality ought to suggest. Often dismissed as a children's book because it is written in simple prose and concerns animals, Anna Sewell's short novel works on that level but also proves to be much more.

Sewell died just a few months after the book's publication, after a life of sickness and disability, and her modesty and intuitive compassion towards suffering gives Black Beauty a genuine heart. Sentimental but never syrupy, and simple but not simplistic, her book was intended for an adult audience and designed to raise awareness of the proper care of animals. Society at that time revolved around the work-horse, and "ninety-nine out of a hundred [people] would as soon think of patting the steam-engine that drew the train" (pg. 200) as of treating a beast of burden with affection. We follow the titular horse Black Beauty throughout his entire life, in a collection of events that each illustrate some moral message about the proper treatment of and behaviour towards horses – or, to Sewell's credit, towards other people.

The effect is rather like Aesop's fables, and though this approach may often seem childlike, the book is rather an affecting one for any age. The moral lessons are told with a humility and clarity that would not be possible nowadays without seeming preachy or cynical. In Sewell's hands, they come across as entirely proper and are heightened by her attention to the horses' characters: there is a level of detail and accuracy about how horses behave, love and feel pain that, even with the anthropomorphism, comes across as realistic, and there are many well-drawn moments of both happiness and sorrow. It shows Sewell's sincerity where modern "children's" books often seem commercially manipulative or committed solely to inflating self-esteem.

You might be thinking why you ought to read a book that, even if not solely a children's read, is concerned primarily with moral instruction regarding horse husbandry – more of a niche concern in our mechanical and electronical age. It is, first of all, interesting, from a literary perspective, to observe a society that did rely so much on the horse, and the legacy of that today. Secondly, Black Beauty is a good example of how literature, however unassuming, can encourage you to stop and look at things from a different perspective, and to a greater purpose. Horses are "used to bear[ing] their pain in silence" (pg. 138), but they "do not suffer less because they have no words" (pg. 237). It's easy to scoff at the earnest pastoralism of Black Beauty, but giving voice to incommunicable suffering is one of the most admirable things a story can do. ( )
2 vote Mike_F | May 7, 2020 |
blue hardcopy illustrated by katharine pyle. top of spine is worn
  lrenaj | Dec 9, 2019 |
I read this book when I was young. I am still a horse lover. It was a favorite of mine due to the similarities between Black Beautys' life and my own. I now have 2 copies and am pleased with each. It shows how I have always viewed animals and the way they view us. Excellently written and the ebb and flow allows one to see the rhythm of life is similar for one and all. ( )
  Chi-Kara | Aug 8, 2019 |
I remember having read this in 3rd or 4th grade and having liked it. Basically, we have the autobiography of a horse. Black Beauty, it seems, is a stallion (or gelding, we're never told). I always assumed that with a name like that he was a she. But nope! A guy horse. None-the-less, all the 9-year old girls who love horses will adore this book. So, also will old Calvinist moralists, like myself, who like animal stories dosed with some good, old fashioned moralizing.

Anyway, this was quite a fun book. Beauty narrates his life from colthood to old age. He sees many changes in that he switches hands from time to time from a good "master" to a not-so-good one, from good care to negligent care, from proper work to over work, and so on. Along the way, we learn the stories of some of the other horses with whom Beauty shared a stable, and we learn much about the proper way to care for a horse so as to get the best work from him. Horses like to work hard for people they like. Nope, don't mind it a bit. Bless their equine hearts.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (169 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anna Sewellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aldin, CecilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andrew, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Becker, May LambertonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cortese, Edward F.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dennis, WesleyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doremus, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dryhurst, DinahIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edwards, LionelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eichenberg, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gavin, Adrienne E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grealy, LucyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyer, CarolIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hough, CharlotteIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jeffers, SusanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kemp-Welch, LucyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, NaomiForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mozley, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prittie, Edwin JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Redding, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, MontyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scrivener, MaudIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seaton, WalterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinel, WilliamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuliniemi, LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, Florence WhiteIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To my dear and honoured Mother, whose life, no less than her pen, has been devoted to the welfare of others, this little book is affectionately dedicated.
First words
The first place that I can well remember, was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.
.... 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....’ — Chapter 13, last paragraph.
… remember, we shall all have to be judged according to our works, whether they be toward man or toward beast. — Chapter 11 – Plain speaking
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
isbn 0140300643 associated with the novel, not the abridgement.

ISBN 0140366849 is a Puffin edition of Black Beauty.
Please do not combine this work with either books or film adaptations. If you have a copy of this work, please consider supplying the name of the author (in the case of a book) or director (if it is a film).
ISBN 0689842554 is an Aladdin Classics edtion of Black Beauty.
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Haiku summary
A horse's story,
Man's kindness and Man's cruelty,
Black Beauty feels both.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141321032, 0141808357, 0141334886, 0143106473

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100127, 1400108616

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438987, 1909438995

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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