Black Beauty

Anna Sewell

Illustrated by Annette Hamley-Jenkins

Introduced by Michael Morpurgo

One of the best-selling and most widely read books of all time, in this new Folio Society edition Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty is introduced by Michael Morpurgo and embellished with nostalgic illustrations.


‘One of the greatest books ever narrated by a horse, with a fine message: be kind to animals, and they’ll be kind to you.’

  1. Michael Morpurgo

Many writers spend a lifetime working towards literary recognition; Anna Sewell wrote a single book and it is still one of the best-selling titles of all time, having sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Its longevity is testament to the simple yet enduring theme of animals’ interaction with humans, and children still laugh and cry with the equine protagonist as sincerely as when Black Beauty was first published nearly 150 years ago.

Production details

Bound in blocked cloth
Set in Dante with Rumble Brave display
224 pages
Frontispiece and 5 colour illustrations
Running horse motif on text pages
Printed slipcase
9˝ x 6¼˝

A horse at the mercy of human benevolence

Black Beauty has an idyllic early life and spends his formative years living with his mother, Duchess, on a farm owned by a kindly man. However, at age four, it’s time for the colt to be sold: he must leave the only home he’s known to start his working life and it is now that Beauty learns of mankind’s propensity to maltreat animals. The mistress of the new house likes the horses’ heads to be pulled back high when drawing her carriage, a fashionable whim that constricts the windpipe and drags the bit back painfully into the mouth. While other horses rebel against such cruelties, Black Beauty retains his poise. As he moves from master to master and job to job, his compliant nature is both abused and embraced, but ultimately he knows that humans have the upper hand and their animal workforce must always be subservient or suffer the consequences.

An early work of animal rights awareness

Afflicted by a debilitating injury at a young age, Sewell spent much of her life unable to move freely and reliant on horses for transport. She grew to love and understand them, and her concern for their welfare planted the seed for the novel, which is unashamed in its condemnation of animal cruelty. Adapted for film and television on numerous occasions, as well as being translated into 50 languages, Black Beauty helped change perceptions of animal welfare through greater empathy and awareness.

Introduced by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo discovered Black Beauty as an adult reader. An animal lover and one of the greatest children’s writers of the 21st century, he charts his appreciation of this enduring tale in his wonderful introduction to our edition. After seeing illustrator Annette Hamley-Jenkins’s longlisted entry in the 2016 Book Illustrations Competition – a series of moving depictions of Morpurgo’s War Horse – we knew she was the perfect choice to illustrate Black Beauty. Her nostalgic full-colour images beautifully convey the era and her statuesque portrait of Black Beauty himself illustrates the binding. Fifteen miniature portraits bring Black Beauty to life running through the book as you fan the pages: a unique addition to a lifelong literary companion.


Michael Morpurgo is the best-selling author of over 140 books for children, including The Butterfly Lion (1996), Kensuke’s Kingdom (1999) and Private Peaceful (2003). The theatrical production of his award-winning 1982 novel War Horse celebrates its tenth year in 2018 with a return to the National Theatre. In 2011 War Horse was released as a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Morpurgo and his wife, Clare, founded the charity Farms for City Children, which offers children and teachers from urban primary schools the chance to gain hands-on experience in one of three country farms. In 2003 Morpurgo was appointed Children’s Laureate, a post he helped to set up with Ted Hughes in 1999. He received an OBE for services to literature in 2006 and a knighthood in 2018.


Annette Hamley-Jenkins graduated from Bath University in 1993 with a degree in Design & Illustration, then embarked on a career in the visual arts. Her atmospheric moonlit landscapes were chosen for exhibition at the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize in 2016 and the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2017, and her illustrations for Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse were longlisted in the 2016 House of Illustration Book Illustration Competition. Since 2014, Hamley-Jenkins has been Roaming Artist at Wilderness Festival.


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