Saturday, 2 April 2011

B is for...Black Beauty

Black Beauty is like a Virginia Andrews book about horses. Just when you think Beauty’s life will be happy he is in danger of the knacker’s yard again. (Incidentally, I thought the knacker’s yard was somewhere full of old knickers when I was little, so my first reading of Black Beauty was rather confused, to say the least.)

Beauty is a kindly chap of a horse who, no matter his situation, makes the best of things, and always treats his fellow humans and animals with respect. Are there lessons to be learnt from this? Of course! The book is positively stuffed with lessons, but the story is so compelling that the drip-feed of morality goes un-noticed – that is, until the last chapter is finished and you are outside waving a placard supporting animal rights.

The plight of working horses and the financial hardship faced by their owners is meticulously described through Beauty’s eyes, and the result on publication was a huge wave of concern for animal welfare. This led to several reforms in the law, ending up both beneficial for horses and humans alike. What a fantastic legacy Anna Sewell left us.

Black Beauty
Published: 1877
Author: Anna Sewell

Beautiful fact one: As a child I cried buckets over the fate of Ginger, and drew a picture to tuck in the end pages of the book showing Black Beauty, Ginger, and Merrylegs all happy together in heaven!

Beautiful fact two: I’ve twice been horse-riding (or rather, horse-sitting).

Beautiful fact three: The first time I was aged five and hoisted up on a giant shire horse.

Beautiful fact four: They didn’t fix the saddle properly so I ended up hanging off its tummy for most of the ride until someone noticed.

Beautiful fact five: The board game ‘Buckaroo’ used to scare me silly. Probably still would!

Three A-Z Highlights for 'B'

Ellie Garratt warns us about the perils of Book-Bonking
Eliza at Just Twaddle ponders Boobs and Bras
Madeleine at Scribble and Edit talks about when to introduce a Back story

51 comments:

The Words Crafter said...

I read this book when I was pretty young and I cried, too. I can barely watch any version of the movies because of it....

My uncle had horses and he'd put me up on one with his son, who was younger than me. Once, the saddle did the same thing-we hung from the horse's belly for a few moments-scary!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Hi Jayne, I read this too when young, little did I realise that I would have to learn about horses very late in life in order to complete my book Candle Dark! Carole.

Madeleine said...

Black Beauty is a great classic. I love the game Buckaroo. I used to be scared on horses though. Bless you for highlighting my blog post :O)

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

Fabulous moral tale, and I read this as very small kid. Horses have always played a huge role in my life, and not so long ago there was that terrible scandal of ex race horses ending up in Egypt (half-starved) pulling heavily laden carts and beaten mercilessly with whips/canes to go faster. Yes, they were bred for speed but not bred to be beasts of burden!There are breeds of horse for that kind of task.

best
F

Out on the prairie said...

I have always been a fan of horses so read this book twice as a kid.It was one of our permanent books at our home library.

Old Kitty said...

Oh I remember reading this and sobbing buckets!!!!!!!!! Loved it!!! Was it really published in 1877?!?! It truly was waaaaaaaaaay ahead of its time!!!

Take care
x

Paula Martin said...

I cried too when I read it - doesn't everyone?
Look forward to more of your A-Z posts, Jayne
http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com

Rebecca Bradley said...

I have to admit that Black Beauty is a book I haven't read, though I did love the televised serial when i was growing up. I spent several years horseriding between about 8 and 12 and think they are beautiful creatures. Lovely post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jayne .. good post - particularly as Elizabeth Taylor died this week .. I need to read this Classic again .. thanks for the memory jog ... good write up - cheers Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

Loved Black Beauty when I was a kid - I was horse crazy too.

Love BFF #4 :)

Ju Dimello said...

Wow..I'd almost forgotten about black beauty! One of the first books I read from as far as I could remember...!!!!

Following you from A-Z challenge !

Tracy said...

I too read this book as a youngster and it made me cry and watching the movie still makes me cry.
I didn't have a positive experience the first time I was on a horse and subsequently, am not a fan of riding, although I wish I was.

:)
Happy A to Z!

Laura Marcella said...

It's been a long time since I've read Black Beauty! I loved it as a kid. I've been horseback riding four times in my life. I want to go on more though! Horses are so sweet.

Linda Fischer said...

I love Black Beauty! Another gem that I have found is called Beautiful Joe, a similar type of story about a dog. You might enjoy it!

Beth said...

Great post on a classic ;)
bethfred.com

Facing50Blog.com said...

I still get very soppy about books about animals. 'Black Beauty' and 'Tarka The Otter' were the first I howled through.
I loved the idea of you drawing a picture of a happy ending and keeping it in the book...oh dear I think I'm going to sniff again.
Really enjoyed this and your Alice post. They returned me to my childhood.
Carol

Arlee Bird said...

I like that you're linking to other blogs.

Never read Black Beauty but I guess I probably saw the movie when I was young.


Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.
Thanks.

Lee
Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Renae said...

I remember Black Beauty, what a wonderful classic!

Eliza said...

Wow, thanks for featuring my post today. :-)
Black beauty is just too sad, especially if you are a horse lover like me. I love your description of your riding experiences, I've had a few like that in my time.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This one broke my heart in two! I was horse crazy, taking riding lessons when all my little friends where in ballet.

Fran said...

Okay, so that's three blogs now that are doing this A B C thing, and I'm way behind on what's going on in the blogosphere, obviously. I love Black Beauty too. Fabulous.

Ella said...

I so loved this movie; I can't remember if I read the book. I have been on a horse, twice. Nice post and so fitting, with Elizabeth Taylor's passing~ Well Done~

Joe Richardson said...

Very much enjoyed your B books and the vintage art. Nicely done!

Best,
Joe

Dead Reckoning

Alison Miller said...

I love horses and always wished I could've had one, had more lessons... I got to help my aunt take care of horses one summer - loved it.

Great post!

Ann said...

Loving A and B so far... like you (and Alice) I have the Growing problem with chocolate. And I'd quite forgotten about Black Beauty. I look forward to C,D,E and hearing from the novice novelist more regularly....

Myne Whitman said...

I remember reading this book as a child, it was quite emotional.

J.L. Campbell said...

This is one of those classic stories that I haven't read. I hope to remedy that at some point. Had a chuckle at the thought of you hanging off the horse's side.

Hannah Roderick said...

Really enjoyed reading this. What a classic. And looking forward to seeing what comes next, from C through to Z!

Plenty of inspiration to get me reading as well as writing this month. Thank you from that.

From a fellow blogger enjoying the A to Z.

Soooz said...

Greetings from Australia, I do love the way you are featuring classic novels in the A-Z challenge. Fabulous books, I am now following, if you have a moment please stop by.

http://sooozsaysstuff.blogspot.com/2011/04/a-z-challenge-day-3-c-crocodile-with.html

Cheree said...

I haven't actually read this. I have seen some of the movies. I have to actually get around to reading some of the classics.

Holly Jahangiri said...

I'm loving what I'm seeing some of the A to Z bloggers doing, leaving links to some of their favorite entries on other participants' blogs. Definitely more compelling than a numbered list of participants!

I loved Black Beauty. And Misty of Chincoteague. And Brighty of the Grand Canyon... Sensing a theme, here? :) Never heard of the game Buckaroo, though.

I did ride, when I was a kid - well into my 20s. I was a competent rider, nothing more; I cannot tell you how many times I failed to sufficiently cinch my own saddle and ended up riding parallel to the ground.



Holly Jahangiri

It's All a Matter of Perspective

This year, it's personal - I'm now a "survivor." Please give to Relay for Life.

Margo Kelly said...

Happy B-day. I'm a new follower from the A-Z Challenge - nice to meet you! :)

www.margokelly.blogspot.com

Raquel Byrnes said...

Loved this book as a young girl. Haven't thought of it in years. Thanks for reminding me.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Niki said...

I still have my Black Beauty book and I loved the TV series as well.

Julia Smith said...

I LOVE Black Beauty. Also loved the 70's TV version.

Very good to know that the novel led to animal welfare reform - that is truly a touching legacy.

A Piece of My Mind

doreen said...

I read this book as a child and read it to my kids and am now reading it to my grand kids.
Great post:)

Duncan D. Horne said...

Black Beauty rings a familiar bell from way back in my childhood. I'm from England but have been living in Malaysia for the last 5 years!

Duncan In Kuantan

Karen said...

Ah, I loved Black Beauty too and still remember the music from the TV version.

In fact I was always reading horsey books, and pretending the pony in the field near where we lived was mine, but strangely I'm scared of horses now!

Shame Anna Sewell only ever wrote the one book.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Black Beauty was one of my favourite books. I find horses very gentle creatures, unless it needs to be tamed or broken.

Ellie said...

Thank you for highlighting by Book Bonk post. I shall be visiting the other highlights shortly!

What can I say about Black Beauty? For me it was the book that started my passion for reading. I would read it over and over again - I couldn't get enough of it!

Is it alright for me to laugh at the incident with you hanging upside down on a horse? Sorry. I can just picture the scene!

Ellie Garratt

Michael Di Gesu said...

I never realized how long ago this book was written. I always though it was around the 1930's.

I never read it as a kid, but it sounds sad. And me such the animal lover. That is why I probably never read it.

Martha (MM) said...

This sure bring back some old memories. I'm visiting from the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Have a wonderful Sunday and a great A-Z April!

Happy Frog and I said...

Black Beauty was one of my favourite books when I was a child. Thanks for bringing back so many happy memories for me and also for furnishing me with some new (to me) facts. x

Kari Marie said...

I remember reading the book and watching the movie when I was younger. I think I fell in love with horses after Black Beauty.

Tundiel said...

Man, I cry buckets whenever I read this book OR watch any of the tv /film adaptations. I'm such a sap...

Great post - and blog! I'm following. :)

Graywolfie said...

I read this book when I was young..forgot quite a bit of it..maybe I'll pop by the library to pick it up and re-read it..

(dropping by from A to Z challenge)

Graywolfie
Http://graywolfie.andrewandgrace.net

Matthew Vanacore said...

Ah, this was such a tremendously touching book. Pure nostalgia. Nice post!

SharleneT said...

Visiting from the A-Z Challenge. Black Beauty has always been a favorite of mine -- even as an old lady, there's much to consider. Thanks for reminding me.

Come visit when you can at:
http://www.mainstreamsolarcooking.com
http://rockingchairreflections.blogspot.com (A-Z)

Rob-bear said...

Amazing! I was just reading Black Beauty to my grandchildren a couple of days ago. They love books, and they love someone reading to them, though the seven-year-old lad is a good reader in his own right.

I just slipped over from Jacquie's latest post on Beauty in the Ordinary.

sema said...

i remember reading the classic when I was in school.

sema
Expressive Impressive
visiting from the A to Z challenge

Steven Chapman said...

I vaguely remember reading this book in primary school (I remember them taking us to see the 1994 film version with Sean Bean more!), I’m not sure if I have a copy somewhere but I’ll have to have a dig around for one.