Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Anna Sewell (March 30, 1820 – April 25, 1878) was a writer, born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. She was the author of Black Beauty, a famous children's book which has been made into films and TV series.
Anna at the age of 14 fell while walking home from school in the rain, injuring both her ankles. Possibly through mistreatment of her injury, she became lame for the rest of her life, unable to stand or walk for any length of time. She never married or had children, but remained very close to her mother and lived at home.
Anna's only publication was Black Beauty, which she wrote between 1871 and 1877 during a period when her health was declining and she was confined to a sofa. For most of this period she dictated to her mother and in 1876 began to write on slips of paper which her mother then transcribed. She sold the novel to the publishers Jarrold & Sons for 40 pounds on November 24th, 1877 when Anna was 57. Although now considered a childrens classic, she wrote it originally for those who work with horses. Anna said 'its special aim being to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses' (Mrs Bayly, 272). The books sales broke publishing records, it is said to be 'the sixth best seller in the English language' (Chitty in Wells and Grimshaw, x).
Anna died of hepatitis or phthisis on 25 April 1878 just five months after its publication, living long enough to see the books initial early success. She was buried on 30 April 1878 in the Quaker burial-ground in Lammas near Norwich.
Her birthplace in Church Plain, Great Yarmouth, is now a museum.
- Adrienne Gavin (2004), A dark horse: the life of Anna Sewell, ISBN 0750928387
- Adrienne Gavin, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Mrs Bayly (1889), The life and letters of Mrs Sewell [biography of mother] ASIN B000867LT4
- E. B. Wells and A. Grimshaw (1989), The annotated 'Black Beauty' ISBN 0851314384
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