I’m not much of an animal lover. Yes, I do like watching cat videos, and believe all creatures should be treated with kindness. But I’m not like the animal lovers I know, and I think I’m rather scared of animals! But one thing I can say for sure is that to read and appreciate Black Beauty, all you need to have is a heart that’s capable of love and kindness.
Black Beauty is a story about a horse, written by Anna Sewell, an English woman who died just months after publishing her only novel. Due to a childhood injury, Anna was unable to stand or walk properly on her own, leading to her frequent use of horse drawn carriages. And that is how Anna fell in love with horses!
The protagonist of the story is a horse, but what’s unusual is that the entire story is told through his eyes! Yes, Beauty, the good looking black horse details his life in the various places he lives, which include good people and bad. Beauty is loved, kept warm, appreciated, overworked, thrashed and rescued – but he always seems to maintain a certain kind of dignity, never stooping to the level of his abusers. I absolutely love that about him – unlike Ginger, the aggressive horse that’s had a traumatic upbringing – Beauty is more invested in doing the best he can, whatever the circumstances may be.
Considering how commonly horses were used for transportation in those days, Black Beauty was an instant hit then, and became the sixth bestseller in the English language. The novel did what Anna wanted it to do – it opened everyone’s eyes to the kind of treatment horses were getting, especially those who worked with taxi cabs in London. It made people realize that horses felt pain, love and fear, just like humans did, and yet they unfailingly served their masters till the day they died.
Black Beauty was written as a children’s book, and I first read it as a child, several years ago. But considering the events happening around us today, I think it’s more relevant than ever – especially for adults. Kindness, respect and self-dignity – these never go out of fashion, and it’s a valuable lesson to learn; whether taught by humans or horses!
Do you like books about animals? Have you given Black Beauty a try?