Her Majesty the Queen visited Anna Sewell House in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk yesterday (Monday 24 July). The birthplace and home of the author of Black Beauty is in the custodianship of Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the largest horse welfare charity in the UK.

“It was a huge honour that Her Majesty the Queen chose to visit Anna Sewell House, which Redwings has been the custodian of since last year,” said Lynn Cutress, Chief Executive of Redwings. “We had a wonderful day and it all went really smoothly – better than we could have ever expected!

“Black Beauty played an important part in drawing attention to the welfare of horses and is therefore intertwined with Redwings’ own story of rescuing, rehoming and giving a forever home to those who need it within our Sanctuaries.

“We understand that Black Beauty was the Queen’s favourite book as a child, and she told us that she was very excited to be visiting the house where the author of the novel was born and lived. In fact, Black Beauty is one of the current selected books being promoted by HM’s own literacy charity – The Queen’s Reading Room.”

The Queen received a copy of Redwings’ special edition of Black Beauty. Credit: Keith Mindham

During her visit, The Queen toured the building where Anna was born in 1820 to parents Isaac and Mary, her mother a successful author in her own right. Her Majesty met charity staff and Trustees who talked with her about Anna and her novel’s influence on animal welfare, which was one of the first English novels to be written from the horse’s perspective and one of a select few books that has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. It has never been out of print in 150 years. Sadly, Anna died less than a year after it was released in 1877 and never witnessed its enormous success or influence.

Her Majesty viewed a number of early editions of the important novel including an English first edition featuring Anna’s original dedication to her aunts and an American first edition, both loaned by the Norfolk Library and Information Service. The Queen also signed special copies of Redwings and the UEA Publishing Project’s new edition, edited by Professor Thomas Ruys Smith. The book, which is published in November, will raise money for the charity, and a copy was gifted to the Queen. It is available to pre-order here now.

Crowds gathered for the royal visit. Credit: Keith Mindham

“It was an honour to meet Her Majesty today and tell her about our special partnership with Redwings and the creation of this edition of Black Beauty ahead of their 40th anniversary next year,” said Associate Professor Hilary Emmett, a specialist in 19th century American literature at the University of East Anglia. “It’s a wonderful project and the first time the book will be raising funds directly for the horses that we know Anna so dearly loved. We like to think she would have approved.”

The Queen also met a number of Redwings key staff and volunteers as well as Redwings’ resident Shetland ponies Moses and Dhansak and watched some horse-related educational activities being undertaken by children and Scouts from the 1st Caister Scout Group. The music was provided by string quartet Bowjangles and Her Majesty was presented with a posy by Miss Ruby Knight and a special fruit cake baked by neighbours and former residents of Anna Sewell House, Kirsty’s Cakery.

Her Majesty was presented with a posy by Miss Ruby Knight. Credit: Keith Mindham

The new Mayor for Great Yarmouth, Councillor Penny Carpenter, was invited along by Redwings who are one of her chosen charities for this year.

“We were delighted to welcome Her Majesty the Queen to Great Yarmouth and Anna Sewell House,” she said. “I’m tremendously proud to have Redwings Horse Sanctuary as one of my chosen charities for my Mayoral year. Redwings look after and support beautiful horses, nursing the magnificent creatures back to health and ensuring they are protected and safe and I am very glad Her Majesty got an insight into all the wonderful work the charity does.”

For more information about Anna Sewell House and Redwings and the UEA’s special fundraising edition of Black Beauty, visit www.redwings.org.uk

Lead image of The Queen and Redwings’ resident Shetland ponies Moses and Dhansak. Credit: Keith Mindham

Black Beauty was The Queen’s favourite book as a child. Credit: Keith Mindham

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