chapter  4
14 Pages

‘Feeling is believing’

Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and the Power of Emotion
ByAdrienne E. Gavin

Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty with the special aim of inducing kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses. The novel's fulfilment of that aim and its endurance as a beloved book both rely on the narrative's singular power to engage readers' emotions. Now a classic which is often remembered, particularly by women, as pivotal to their childhood literary experience, Black Beauty was originally written for those who worked with horses, primarily working-class boys and men, such as stable hands, ostlers, coachmen, and cab drivers. Black Beauty endures not only as a novel but as a wider cultural text that includes abridgements, films, plays, games, figurines, jigsaws, television series, and comics, and it has been referenced in advertising products from alcohol to breakfast cereal, liquorice to motor oil. Black Beauty's personal account makes equine experience not only seen and felt, but also accessible.