Anna Sewell was born on March 30, 1820, in Yarmouth, England, to Quaker parents of gentle beliefs and practices. She lived in a combined house and clothing shop in London until moving with her family to Dalston in 1822. Her humanitarianism developed early, as is evidenced by an event that occurred in Dalston. When Sewell and her brother Philip learned of the Irish potato famine, they forfeited a long awaited vacation in order to send money to Ireland. Fortunately for the children, an uncle soon sent them to the seaside at his own expense.
Similarly, Sewell displayed sensitivity toward the treatment of animals early in her life. At nine years of age, she refused to allow a man to retrieve a blackbird he had shot in her yard and scolded him for his cruelty. As both a child and an adult, Sewell often spoke out against the abuse of horses.
Sewell never married, remaining with her parents throughout her life except when visiting relatives or attending health spas and clinics for her weak ankle. Injured in a fall when she was fourteen, her ankle never healed. When the family moved to Lancing in 1845, the injury worsened, and Sewell was often barely able to walk. She got around with a pony and a cart that she allegedly guided in the same way that Black Beauty's favorite drivers handled him: she simply held the reins in her hand, voicing the directions for the horse to follow.
Sewell began writing Black Beauty at the age of...
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