Anna Sewell Birthday Bicentenary – Writing to Celebrate Her Legacy!
It has been 200 years since Anna Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth, on March 30th, 1820. One of the bestselling novel’s in literary history, Black Beauty was written to end cruelty to horses, going on to sell an estimated 50 million copies worldwide. Anna Sewell’s legacy of kindness resonates in current times – housebound for over six years while writing Black Beauty, she died months after it was published in 1877, showing fierce resilience in the face of vulnerability and illness, to finish it.
To celebrate her life and work, Norfolk County Council are funding free creative writing workshops with writer Ruthie Collins and charity Feathers Futures, for women to write in her memory.
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the workshops will be online, facilitated from Norfolk, with a face to face option in Great Yarmouth planned for when it’s safe to meet up again. These workshops are for all experience, from total beginners to women writers wanting to celebrate Anna Sewell for wellbeing, in a nurturing and fun environment. Selected writing will be recorded and available for sharing at community events as a lasting legacy of Anna Sewell’s life and work.
Anna Sewell in East Anglia
Anna Sewell had very strong links to Norfolk and East Anglia. Anna Sewell House where she was born in Great Yarmouth is now a popular tea room, Kirsty’s Cakery, which has its own substantial collection of Black Beauty books.
Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty in the White House, Old Catton, Norwich. Written to inspire ‘sympathy’ for horses, Black Beauty was sold to Jarrold for £20, who were the novel’s first publishers in 1877. It’s widely credited with the abolishment of ‘bearing reigns’, a type of reign that was very painful for horses. First edition copies of the novel are in Norwich Library Heritage Collection.
You can see traces of Anna Sewell’s influence in Norwich, with Sewell Park named in her honour, formerly owned by her brother Phillip, whose horse Bess, is thought to have been the inspiration for Black Beauty.
One of the bestselling children’s books in literary history, Black Beauty was the first novel to be narrated by an animal. It’s been turned into several films, a TV series, with a new film with British actress Kate Winslet, planned for release in 2020.