Anna Sewell was a kind and generous woman whose great love for horses and desire to see them better treated resulted in the most celebrated animal story of the nineteenth century.
Born into a strict Quaker family who lived at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, she was brought up to believe in the importance of self-reliance, moral responsibility and 'tender consideration for the Creatures of God'. From an early age she developed a strong love of animals and abhorred any form of cruelty towards them. She seemed to have a natural affinity with horses, and the great knowledge of horsemanship evident in Black Beauty was born from a lifetime's experience. Anna received her education at home from her mother, who as well as instilling in her a sense of duty and religion also filled the house with music, painting and poetry - she was herself an accomplished ballad-writer - and Anna soon proved a capable pianist and artist. When she was fourteen, Anna - who already suffered from a crippling bone disease - had a fall which left her an invalid for the rest of her life. By her mid-thirties she was no longer able to get around by herself and relied on a pony cart to transport her. Characteristically she never used a whip on her own horses, and one of her intentions with Black Beauty was to 'induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses'.