Black Beauty:

His Grooms and Companions. The Autobiography of a Horse. Translated from the Original Equine


SEWELL, Anna Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions. The Autobiography of a Horse. Translated from the Original Equine

Jarrold and Sons, 1877.

First edition. Small 8vo. Original green cloth with decoration embossed in gilt and black, Carter's variant B. Frontispiece after C. Hewitt. A very good copy indeed. The cloth is uncommonly bright and hinges tight, with just a small split to the top of the rear hinge. Internally pages are clean, with the occasional finger mark and two small paper nicks, one to the upper corner of the front endpaper and one to the top of the title page.

Confined to the home after a childhood accident, Anna first mentioned that she was writing Black Beauty in her journal on 6th November 1871. She wrote "I am writing the life of a horse, and getting dolls and boxes ready for Christmas". In December 1876 she wrote, "I am getting on with my little book 'Black Beauty'." By this time Anna was becoming more and more crippled and spent much of her time on a sofa writing in pencil, with her mother making a copy. She wrote "I have been confined to the house and to my sofa, from time to time, when I am able, been writing what I think will turn out a little book, its special aim being to induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses". Black Beauty was published at the end of 1877 and Anna lived just long enough to hear of its success. The book has a strong moral purpose and is said to have been instrumental in the abolition of the cruel practice of using the check rein.
John Carter's More Binding Variants refers to three bindings on the first edition sheets. Bindings A and B being exactly the same but for the horses head and border on the front cover being in gilt on binding A and in black on binding B. Binding C is set from an entirely different block. Carter notes that, "C is comparatively common", whilst "A and B are so rare that deductions are inevitably conjectural". However the publishers advertised the original issue at "2/- in cloth boards, 2/6 in extra boards, gilt edges"; further the fifth edition, circulating by the end of 1878, is also bound in the C binding. Thus only variants A and B can be said with certainty to represent states of the first edition and that is likely that those copies in variant C are either bound from remaindered stock or more likely undifferentiated 1878 reprints.
The "comparatively common" C variants are now rather rare in nice condition, which gives a notional indication of quite how rare presentable copies of the first issue are.

Ownership inscription of Agnes Hasted, dated 1878.

Stock ID: 30442


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