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Black Beauty: his grooms and companions. The autobiography of a horse.

Translated from the original equine.

London: Jarrold and Sons, [1877] Stock Code: 123401
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Rare presentation copy

First edition, presentation copy, inscribed by the author in her own hand on the first blank, "For the Patients of the London Temperance Hospital with the Author's best wishes", and with a secondary ownership inscription ("Hughes") above. Conceivably this is John Hughes (1827-1896) who was treasurer of the London Temperance Hospital for about 25 years. A very apposite association: the London Temperance Hospital, in Hampstead Road, London, opened on 6 October 1873 by initiative of the National Temperance League, and was managed by a board of 12 teetotallers. Anna Sewell and her mother were both heavily involved in the temperance movement and the theme is strongly invoked in Black Beauty.

This Victorian classic was the only book of its bedridden author, who died shortly after its publication, much too soon to appreciate its slowly accumulated worldwide success. Presentation or inscribed copies are understandably rare and the majority are not inscribed by the author herself, but by her mother Mary.

In 1938 Carter distinguished three states of the binding: A with the same blocking as this, but all in gilt; B, as here, with the horse's head, titling, and the rustic portions of the decoration in black (Carter mistakenly describes the titling as gilt, which invariably leads to the B binding being described as a variant), the other parts being gilt; and C, blocked in black and gilt, with a much smaller horse's head gilt in a medallion, facing left, the same design as used for the later editions. Carter A and B are primary, and the earliest dated inscribed copies are Christmas 1877. Anna Sewell died on 25 April 1878.

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Octavo. Original brown cloth, rebacked with original spine laid down, spine and front board lettered and decorated in black and gilt, rear board blocked in blind, brown endpapers (Carter's B binding), edges trimmed. Housed in a custom red morocco-backed slipcase and chemise. Housed in a custom dark red folding case, front cover with a panelled onlay of Black Beauty.


Engraved frontispiece after C. Hewitt, 8 pp. publisher's ads at end.


Tips restored, worn, inner hinges reinforced, occasional soiling, a well-read copy, good.


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