Anna Sewell was the older child of the married couple Mary Wright Sewell and Isaac Sewell. Her brother Philip was two years younger than her. The family moved to London in Anna Sewell's early childhood ; because of economic difficulties she often changed her place of residence. Anna and Philip Sewell were first homeschooled by their mother, who was a Quaker who was an anti- slavery worker. Mary Wright Sewell also wrote children's literature.
Anna Sewell later attended secondary school. One day on the way home, when she was fourteen, she suffered an ankle or knee injury that never healed properly. She therefore lived in her parents' household until her death - the father died in the same year as his daughter, the mother lived until 1884.
Her sister-in-law died in 1866. To be of service to Philip Sewell, who had seven children, the parents moved with Anna Sewell to Norfolk, where the family lived, and Anna Sewell helped raise their nieces and nephews. From 1867 she lived in the so-called "White House" on Spixworth Road in Old Catton. The property is now known as Anna Sewell House.
Anna Sewell's mobility outside the home was ensured by a pony carriage that she drove herself. The pony she pulled is said to have later become the model for the pony Merrylegs in her novel Black Beauty ; the figure of the black beauty himself is said to go back to her brother's carriage horse, a black mare named Bess. She probably took the name "Black Beauty" from a children's book by Maria Louisa Charlesworth , Ministering Children , published in 1854.
At the age of over 50, she decided to write a book about horses. She had less of a children's book in mind, but wanted to educate horse owners and users about animal-torturing husbandry conditions and cruelties such as the attachment reins , which forced the horses to carry their heads in an unnatural position, and thus caused overexertion and breathing difficulties that quickly wore out the teams led. In the last years of her life she could not leave the house because of an illness and had to dictate part of the book to her mother by sentence. She did not receive high payment for the manuscript. It was published shortly before her death; she never saw it become a bestseller.
Anna Sewell was buried in the Quaker Cemetery at Lamas or Lammas near Buxton in Norwich county. Her headstone has been preserved, but has not been in its original location since the grave was leveled in 1984.
Anna Sewell's birthplace is now a museum. In Norwich, at the intersection of Constitution Hill and St. Clement's Hill, at the entrance to Sewell Park, there is a fountain in the shape of a horse trough, which Ada Sewell had installed there in 1917 in memory of Anna Sewell. Sewell Barn, which is now home to the Sewell Barn Theater Company, is believed to have been the home of the horse that inspired the figure of Black Beauty. The building belonged to the estate of her brother Philip, whose actual house has not been preserved.
- Literature by and about Anna Sewell in the catalog of the German National Library
- English e-book Black Beauty as download from Project Gutenberg
- biography on online-literature.com
- biography on oldcatton.com ( page no longer available , search in web archives ) Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF file; 491 kB)
- Materials at penguinreaders.com (PDF file; 413 kB)
- Pictures and information on literarynorfolk.co.uk
- kurzbiographischer entry in thefreelibrary.com
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||British writer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||March 30, 1820|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Great Yarmouth , Norfolk , England|
|DATE OF DEATH||April 25, 1878|
|Place of death||Old Catton , Norfolk|