The University of East Anglia (UEA) is publishing a special edition of Black Beauty in collaboration with Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

The UEA Publishing Project, based in Norwich, and Redwings, who last year took on guardianship of the author’s birthplace, Anna Sewell House in Great Yarmouth – made the announcement yesterday (30 March) on what would have been her 203rd birthday.

There have been countless editions of the novel – one of only a handful of works to have sold more than 50 million copies around the world and remain in print 150 years after publication – but this release is unique as it will directly benefit the equines in Redwings’ care.

The special edition will be published in November and is available for pre-order here now for the advance price of £8 (usual price £9.99). Half of all proceeds will go to Redwings.

It has a foreword by children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, creator of Tracy Beaker and lifelong Black Beauty fan, and an afterword from Professor Thomas Ruys Smith of the UEA, a specialist in 19th century literature. It is being produced to mark the 40th anniversary of Redwings in 2024.

“We are so excited about this amazing collaboration,” said Lynn Cutress, Redwings Chief Executive. “Anna said her aim in writing this book was ‘to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses’. Black Beauty is credited with changing attitudes around how we see and work with these magnificent creatures, including helping to bring about a ban on the use of the bearing rein, a cruel piece of tack she highlighted in her novel.

“This, though, is the first time its sale has directly benefitted horses in need, with 50% of the proceeds from every copy sold directly supporting Redwings’ work across the UK. Last year we gave a home to 109 horses and ponies who needed help and our field officers identified and intervened in 175 cases, improving the lives of 622 of these wonderful animals.

“We are very grateful to the UEA for this opportunity and all their kind support and feel sure this is something Anna would have approved of.”

Professor Thomas Ruys Smith said it had been an “incredible” project to work on.

“Black Beauty is a book with so many wonderful connections with Norfolk and the world of animal welfare and it has been fascinating to unearth both its local history and its global legacies for this new edition,” he said. “The text is based on the first edition of Black Beauty that Anna hand-dedicated to her aunts, which is now located at the Norfolk Heritage centre. It is designed to be as accessible as possible, produced in a font commissioned by the Braille institute, and will be entirely produced and printed in Norfolk.

“We hope that this special Redwings edition, putting Anna’s novel to work in the service of the horses she so loved, means we might finally be able to come to a proper reckoning with Norfolk’s most successful literary export.”

Check out our subscription offer

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue