Norwich exhibition celebrates 140th anniversary of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty
PUBLISHED: 16:15 25 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:23 25 July 2017
Norfolk author Anna Sewell’s classic story of Black Beauty is being celebrated in a special exhibition marking the 140th anniversary of the book.
Written from her home in Old Catton in the 1870s, the author’s much-loved story told through the eyes of a horse was first published by Jarrold and Sons in 1877, and it has gone on to captivate readers around the world with more than 50 million copies sold across the globe.
Jarrold and Sons commissioned artist Cecil Aldin to create a series of watercolours for a 1912 edition of the book, and a selection of these illustrations are a key focus of the new exhibition which has just opened at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Visitors can also see a special model of Black Beauty in the museum’s courtyard and there are different editions of the book on display, including a first edition signed by the author as a gift to her niece.
Jenny Caynes, curator of community history at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, said: “It is celebrating 140 years since the publication of Black Beauty. Anna Sewell was a Norfolk girl. She was born in Great Yarmouth and returned to Norfolk to write her book. She travelled around the country quite a bit but Norfolk was her roots. The exhibition is a celebration of words and pictures. The watercolours commissioned by Jarrold and Sons from Cecil Aldin for the 1912 edition are absolutely beautiful.”
On why Black Beauty has stood the test of time to become such a well known classic, she said: “It has got enduring appeal. It is written in the first person, directly from the horse’s mouth, and speaks directly to children and adults alike. It is a classic story.”
The exhibition at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell runs until November 25, and there are a number of themed events taking place at the museum throughout that time. It is part of a series of events coordinated by VisitNorwich to mark the anniversary. Visitors can meet a real-life Black Beauty, otherwise known as Maya, at Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Aylsham, and Jarrold department store is hosting a number of events including offering a Black Beauty-themed afternoon tea in August and selling Woodforde’s Black Beauty beer. For more information, www.visitnorwich.co.uk/explore-and-experience/black-beauty/