What is the setting of Black Beauty?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anna Sewell's endearing and poignant story of Black Beauty opens in a large, pleasant meadow with a clean pond at Farmer's Grey in the English countryside, the first home of the young colt.  After he is grown, "Darkie" as he is called, is sold and moves to Squire Gordon's...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

park which "skirted the village of Birtwick.  There Beauty lives in a comfortable stable with Merrylegs and Ginger; sometimes he is turned out into a paddock or an orchard.

When the mistress of Birtwick must move to warmer country, Beauty is ridden to Earls Hall Park. There he lives until he injures his knees and is no longer handsome; the Earl sells him to a livery stable in Bath.  After enduring the whip and other hardships, Beauty is sold to Mr. Barry, who also lives in Bath.  However, after Beauty develops thrush, a fungus of the bottom of the hoof, he is sold after he recovers.

Following his experience at the horse fair, Beauty becomes a London cab horse with a new master, Jeremiah Barker, a kind and good man, until Jerry falls ill and can no longer drive a cab.  So, Beauty is sold to a corn dealer and baker whom Jerry thought would care for the horse.  However, such is not the case as Beauty bore heavy loads and lived in a dismal stable in London.

His new master is Nicholas Skinner and Beauty is a cab horse again, but it is a wretched life as he is overworked and underfed.  After he falls, Beauty is nursed back to health and sold a few miles from London.  It is at this sale that Mr. Thoroughgood buys Beauty and puts him in a meadow where he can recover his strength until he is sold--of all people--to Joe Green, who does not recognize the black horse at first.  Then, Beauty is promised he can live out his days there.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The novel was written "to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses" and focuses on the adventures of the horse Black Beauty and the theme of the mistreatment of horses. The novel is told in first person from Black Beauty's point of view and follows his journey and hardships that arise along the way.

The story is initially set in an English farm, where Black Beauty is living life as a colt with his mother. He is happy and carefree at the beginning, but soon he starts to experience traumatizing events, such as a brutal hare hunt and the pain of having to wear a saddle and bridle.

Black Beauty is then sold to Squire Gordon who owns an estate named Birtwick Hall. There Black Beauty is quite happy for three years, and, although not as carefree as before, he enjoys the company of the other horses.

After that, we follow Black Beauty to London, where he eventually becomes a cab puller. It is hard work but his owner, Jerry, is kind and considerate. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for other horses Black Beauty encounters.

At the end, Black Beauty is finally allowed to enjoy retirement in the Blomefield's family country meadow.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Where does Black Beauty take place? What is the setting?

Black Beauty, published in 1877, is set in various locations in England in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. In it, the horse Black Beauty, through whose eyes the story is told, is sold to different owners. In each setting, Black Beauty learns about the cruel lives of animals, and with some owners, he experiences it himself.

Black Beauty begins life in a pasture in the British countryside, where although his life is mainly fine, he is subjected to being broken for riding and pulling carriages and has to learn to bear the painful bit in his mouth. He is then purchased by Squire Gordon and lives for three years at Birtwick Hall. There, he meets fellow horses Merrylegs, Ginger, and Sir Oliver, and he has a good life because Squire Gordon is very much opposed to beating and mistreating horses. However, Beauty learns of the cruel practice of bobbing dog's ears and hears stories of cruelties other horses have borne.

Life becomes worse for Black Beauty and Ginger when they are sold to the owner's of Earlshall Park. Here, they are subjected to the cruel and painful practice of having their necks held back and unnaturally high by the bearing rein, which is in fashion at the time. Black Beauty also has his knees ruined by being ridden recklessly.

Later the scene shifts to London, where Beauty is bought by the kindhearted Jerry to pulls a cab, which is very hard work. Following that, he is sold to a cruel situation again, including the bearing rein, but at the end of the novel is purchased by kind owners and goes to live happily in the countryside.

Last Updated on