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March 30 is author Anna Sewell’s birthday. The daughter of a successful children’s book writer, she helped edit her mother’s manuscripts from an early age but was not published herself until she was 57. Black Beauty, the first significant children’s story in the English language to focus on animal characters, established the precedent for countless other works.

Sewell wrote the book during the last seven years of her life, when she became an invalid confined to her home. The book was published shortly before her death in 1878 and became one of the best-loved children’s classics o...



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