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Discussion of Anna Sewell (1820–1878), English novelist famous for her only novel Black Beauty (1877), which protested against cruelty to horses and became a classic of children’s literature.
Anna Sewell was born on 30 March 1820 in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England, the eldest of two children of Isaac and Mary Sewell (née Wright), who both came from old Norfolk, Quaker families. Her childhood was happy but punctuated by her parents’ financial difficulties which led to several relocations across England as her father took up various occupations including draper, travelling salesman, maltster, brewer, and bank manager. Shortly after Sewell’s birth, the family moved to London because her father’s drapery partnership could no longer support them. Sewell’s London infancy was marked by her father’s further difficulties in a series of Quaker draperies and her mother’s loathing for the Capital, which culminated, soon after her brother Philip’s birth in early 1822, in financial...