Rare edition of Norfolk author’s famous work set to go under the hammer

A rare first edition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is coming up for auction

A rare first edition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is coming up for auction - Credit: Archant

Much-loved Norfolk author Anna Sewell sold her masterpiece Black Beauty to publishers for just £40.

Great Yarmouth - BuildingsYarmouth's Anna Sewell House on Church PlainDated 17th March 1982Photog

Great Yarmouth - BuildingsYarmouth's Anna Sewell House on Church PlainDated 17th March 1982Photograph C1779

But now decades on a rare first edition of the endearing novel is set to fetch thousands of pounds when it goes on sale at auction.

The hardback book, which is being sold at Sotheby's in London, is particularly valuable because it is a first edition copy in 'an unrestored and extremely rare binding'.

According to experts three types of binding were used for the first edition of Sewell's famous tale - A, B, and C. And the book going up for sale has B, the rarest of the three.

Its titles are also trimmed in black, rather than gilt making, it a particularly desirable copy.

Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell - Credit: Archant


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The auction house estimates the book could fetch £5,000 - £7,500 when it goes under the hammer tomorrow, among a collection of literature, history and children's books.

Cameron Self, who runs the Literary Norfolk website, described Black Beauty as a 'Norfolk classic' and thought it would be snapped up at the auction.

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'I'm sure it probably will reach that level [of bidding] because it's a children's classic but it was making a serious point as well about cruelty to animals, and things like that,' he added. 'It was ahead of its time.

'The sad thing is she [Sewell] didn't live to see how famous it was going to become.

'She only wrote one book and it was written right at the end of her life, she was bedridden at the time she was writing it.'

Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth in 1820 and was in her fifties and living in Old Catton when she penned Black Beauty, the world-famous tale told from the horse's point of view.

It was first published in November 1877 by Jarrold and went on to capture the public's imagination and continues to delight children across the globe today, and is reckoned as one of the best selling novels of all time.

After her death in 1878 - five months after Black Beauty was published by - the author was buried in Lammas near Buxton, near her grandparents

? Do you have a story about a historical Norfolk character? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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