Black Beauty artwork goes on show in Norwich to celebrate new edition

Caroline Jarrold(with original and new editions) at the launch of the new edition of Black Beauty an

Caroline Jarrold(with original and new editions) at the launch of the new edition of Black Beauty and an exhibition of the original artwork by Cecil Aldin.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It has sold some 50 million copies and is one of the best-selling books of all time – and it was written in Norfolk.

Black Beauty original artwork by Cecil Aldin.PHOTO BY Submitted

Black Beauty original artwork by Cecil Aldin.PHOTO BY Submitted - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Great Yarmouth-born author Anna Sewell penned the classic Black Beauty at her Old Catton home, and it was first published by Jarrold in Norwich in 1877.

The Jarrold family has still got much precious original material from early editions of the book, including most of the artwork from a 1912 edition.

Usually the magnificent water colours, by renowned artist Cecil Aldin, are kept under lock and key in darkness to protect them from light.

But this week people are offered a rare opportunity to enjoy the illustrations, at a special exhibition co-inciding with the publication of a new edition of Black Beauty.

Black Beauty original artwork by Cecil Aldin.PHOTO BY Submitted

Black Beauty original artwork by Cecil Aldin.PHOTO BY Submitted - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

This is published by American publisher Norton, and is a facsimile of the 1912 Jarrolds edition save for the cover.

Caroline Jarrold, whose great great uncle W.T.F Jarrold wrote the introduction to the edition, said: 'It's marvellous that Norton has decided to invest in re-publishing it.'

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The artwork was last displayed to the public in 1982, but appeared on Antiques Road Show in 2004 where the paintings were valued at £3,000 to £4,000 each.

An enthusiast offered to buy the collection, but this offer was declined.

'We see them very much as being part of the history of Jarrolds,' said Ms Jarrold.

Jarrold is the sole UK stockist of the new edition of Black Beauty until the new year.

The exhibition is on the first floor of 3 St James Court in Norwich, near to the Puppet Theatre, and is open from 10am to midday from today until Friday.

About Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth in 1820, in a house on Church Plain.

Her mother, Mary, was a successful author of children's books, and Anna helped edit these in her youth.

She attended school for the first time in London, and at 14 years old she slipped and badly injured both ankles.

Through mistreatment of the injuries, Sewell became unable to walk or stand for any great length of time.

The family later moved to Brighton where her father, Isaac, was appointed manager of a bank, and while there a remedy to cure her was tried.

A doctor bled her severely, and this is though to have added to her health problems.

She wrote her only book, Black Beauty, in her house in Old Catton between 1871 and 1877.

By telling the story of a horse's life in the form of an autobiography she broke new ground, and her sympathetic portrayal of the plight of working animals helped animal welfare causes.

She died of either hepatitis or tuberculosis in 1878 just five months after the novel was published, but in this time she saw the beginnings of its success.