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Anna Sewell



Lifetime: 1820 - 1878 Passed: ≈ 144 years ago

Anna Sewell was an English novelist. She is well known as the author of the 1877 novel Black Beauty, her only published work, which is now considered one of the top ten bestselling novels for children, although it was intended at the time for an adult audience. She died only five months after Black Beauty's publication, having lived long enough to see her only novel become a success.


Sewell was born on 30 March 1820 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, into a devout Quaker family. Her father was Isaac Phillip Sewell (1793–1879), and her mother, Mary Wright Sewell (1798–1884), was a successful author of children's books. She had one sibling, a younger brother named Philip. The children were largely educated at home by their mother due to a lack of money for schooling.

In 1822, Isaac's business, a small shop, failed and the family moved to Dalston, London. Life was difficult for the family, and Isaac and Mary frequently sent Philip and Anna to stay with Mary's parents in Buxton.

In 1832, when she was twelve, the family moved to Stoke Newington and Sewell attended school for the first time. At fourteen, Sewell slipped and severely injured her ankles. For the rest of her life she could not stand without a crutch or walk for any length of time. For greater mobility, she frequently used horse-drawn carriages, which contributed to her love of horses and concern for the humane treatment of animals

After the publication of her only novel, Sewell fell seriously ill. Sewell was in extreme pain and completely bedridden for the following months, and she died on 25 April 1878 aged 58 of hepatitis or tuberculosis, only five months after the publication of Black Beauty. She was buried on 30 April 1878 at Quaker burial-ground in Lamas near Buxton, Norfolk, not far from Norwich.

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