Black Beauty

1936, illustyrated by K F Barker, in the rare original dustwrapper


Anna Sewell, illustrated by K F Barker


A & C Black, London, 1936
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Printing Details

First edition thus, hardback in rare dustwrapper. 22.5 × 15.5cm. vii, 254pp + 2pp ads. With eight line drawings and wrapper artwork by K F Barker.

Anna Sewell composed Black Beauty 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. It would become one of the bestselling books of all time.

Narrated in the first person as an autobiographical memoir, the book is told by Black Beauty—beginning with his carefree days as a colt 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. Sewell wrote detailed observations and extensive descriptions of horse behaviour leaning a great deal of authenticity to the writing.


The book is in good solid condition, with an old water stain to the pages' top edge and a few specks of foxing but a clean copy with secure binding. The dustwrapper is a little tanned and stained to the spine with general overall wear but has not been price-clipped and is now within a protective sleeve.

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