A rare copy of the classic horse book Black Beauty has been donated to equine charity Redwings to be part of a silent auction.
The book, printed in 1915 and with colour illustrations by Lucy Kemp Welch, is on display at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell until November 25. It is part of an exhibition of Cecil Aldin watercolours painted in 1912, to mark 140 years since the publication of Black Beauty.
Black Beauty, by local author Anna Sewell, was first published by Jarrold & Sons in 1877.
The story, told from the perspective of a horse, went on to become a 50 million bestseller.
Jarrolds no longer publishes books and is now a department store.
Cecil Aldin was commissioned by Jarrolds in 1912 to produce a series of 18 watercolours to illustrate a new edition. For these he was paid £189, which was probably quite a high fee for that time.
The watercolours lay undiscovered for many years until the Jarrold family found them carefully stored in a box in 1982. They were then framed and exhibited but can only be displayed for a short while as they need to be protected to preserve the vibrant colours. Thirteen of these works will be on display at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, until November 25.
Bids will be open for the silent auction of the 1915 edition until the close of the exhibition, with the book going to the highest bidder.
All proceeds will go towards helping Redwings’ rescued horses.
Black Beauty was composed in the last years of Anna Sewell’s life, during which she remained in her house as an invalid. The novel became an immediate best-seller, with Sewell dying just five months after its publication, but long enough to see her only novel become a success. With 50 million copies sold, Black Beauty is one of the best-selling books of all time. While forthrightly teaching animal welfare, it also teaches how to treat people with kindness, sympathy, and respect.
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