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Definition: Sewell, Anna from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(su'əl), 1820–78, English author. Her only work, Black Beauty (1877), the story of a horse, became a children's classic and has gone into many reprints. Her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, 1797–1884, was also a popular writer for children.

  • See study by M. J. Baker (1957).

Summary Article: Sewell, Anna
from Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature

Born into a strict Quaker home, S. was educated at home. She assisted with the household duties and acted as the family housekeeper while her mother wrote children's books. At fourteen she was injured in a fall that left her crippled for life. Although unable to walk far, she could drive her parents' carriage; in her thirties and forties she established a Working Man's Evening Institute to teach local miners and laborers.

Her only book, Black Beauty: An Autobiography of a Horse, was published in 1877, a year before she died. Black Beauty was adapted by The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and accomplished the purpose for which the book was written, to improve conditions for horses. S. wrote Black Beauty to “induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment of horses.” The book also highlights the cruel treatment of working-class people at the time through its dramatic presentation of widespread social problems such as poverty and alcoholism.


Bibliography Something about the Author, vol. 23. 1981 Silvey, Anita, ed.Children's Books and Their Creator. 1995. Fiction, FOLKLORE, FANTASY and POETRY for Children, 1876–1985. 1986

Irvyn Gilbertson

© 2005 The Continuum International Publishing Group, Ltd

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