(1820 - 1878)
“We shall all have to be judged according to our works, whether they be towards man or towards beast.”

 When only 14 Anna slipped in the mud whilst running home, injuring both her ankles to such an extent that she was never again able to stand for long periods or walk without crutches.  She therefore became reliant on horse drawn carriages and developed a love of horses which was to last her lifetime. Born into a Quaker family she had grown up with a concern for all living creatures but in the Victorian England of her day she saw horses being whipped, underfed and kept in appalling conditions, often until they died of exhaustion.  A symbol of the cruelty of the day was the practice of using the bearing rein which pulled the horses head up and back, supposedly to show off its conformation, but in actuality putting an enormous strain on the neck and lungs, causing pain and often death.   Her outrage at this often led Anna to confront fully grown men from all walks of life on their use of the bearing rein.  When in her fifties Anna became more or less bedbound and decided to write a story about her favourite animal and the suffering it endured. She wrote in her diary that she intended to write an instructional work to “induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses” .  The book took 6 years to write, and as her illness progressed she frequently had to dictate the story to her mother.  By the time Black Beauty was completed Anna was extremely unwell, dying only 5 months after its publication, although she lived long enough to see it become a huge success.  Originally intended as a sort of primer for the care of horses it has since gone on to become a classic of children’s literature, illustrated by some of the great artists of their day.  Her greatest delight, however, would be to know that it undoubtedly had an effect on the abolition of the bearing rein.

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Black Beauty: