Black Beauty

two horses standing under a tree

Black Beauty: Illustrations

This is only a sampling of the illustrated editions of Black Beauty. I could have used twice as many.

Attribution: Although I drew on six different sources, it should be pretty easy to tell them apart. Illus­trations from the Jarrold (Hewitt), Altemus (faux Beer), Crowell (Bridgman) and Daily Sketch (Kemp-Welch) editions are each identified by the artist’s or publisher’s name after the caption. The unlabeled picture at the beginning of each Part is by Kemp-Welch. Aldin’s paintings have a distinctive white border but no caption. Hovendon (Toaspern), including the drop capitals and most pictures interlaced with the text, is generally captionless and unmarked. Exceptions are noted in the Corrections for each part.

Placement: When an illustration references a particular line of text, I put the picture as close as practicable to the relevant passage. If more than one artist illustrated the same text, I tried to alternate words and pictures.

Technical note: I changed the base color of most line drawings to match the background color of the ebook as a whole. Most were originally printed as black-and-white. The grayscale plates by Lewis Bridgman were kept as-is for contrast.

Finally: If you live outside the U.S., note that many of the named illustrators died at some time in the 20th century—the most recent is 1958—so the pictures may still be under copyright in your country.

cover of 1877 Jarrold edition   cover of 1894 Jarrold edition
C. Hewitt
C. Hewitt’s signature

Other than the bare fact that he existed, I know nothing about C. Hewitt—not even his full name. If you want to split hairs, I don’t even know that he was a he. Aside from the early editions of Black Beauty, his name shows up in a few books from the Sunday School Union, a London publisher. Reading between the lines, he must not have been very expensive in 1877.

Hewitt has two signed illustrations in the 1894 edition of Black Beauty“The moon had just risen” and “The squire stood there”—up from one in the first edition. The two Bearing Rein drawings are unsigned, and may or may not be Hewitt’s work. In fact none of them may be his original art, since the “sc.” in the signature implies that he was only the engraver.

cover of 1894 Hovendon edition
H. Toaspern
H. Toaspern’s signature

Hovendon, 1894 (New York) is one of a long list of more-or-less-pirated U.S. editions. The title page promises “twenty-two original illus­trations”. This figure seems to have been arrived at by counting five decorative capitals—most of them used more than once—and the cover, in addition to the sixteen illus­trations proper. Apart from the cover, all illus­trations are line drawings.

Assuming H. Toaspern was the father of philatelist Herman “Toasty” Toaspern—and really, how many H. Toasperns can there be?—the artist was New York-based Hermann Toaspern Jr. He was born in 1856 and died no later than 1907, when his wife Lelia remarried.

The Hovendon edition’s chosen subtitle was “His Groom [sic] and Companions”, augmented with the usual “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” reference. But there’s a further quirk to this edition. Long sections of text—typically character description or social commentary—are unexpectedly italicized. It’s as if some reader marked the passages she found especially moving, and then this marked-up copy was handed over to a typesetter who mistook the under­linings for typographic instructions.

cover of 1895 Crowell edition
Lewis Bridgman
L. J. Bridgman’s monogram in color L. J. Bridgman’s monogram, black-and-white

You won’t find Bridgman’s name—or its frequent misspelling “Bridgeman”—anywhere in this book, published by Thomas Y. Crowell in Boston, 1895. He probably did get paid, though: he was local, his mono­gram is clearly visible, and his name appears on other books from the same publisher in the same time period.

Like Toaspern, Lewis Jesse Bridgman (1857–1931) is so obscure that—wait for it—at time of ebook preparation he didn’t even have a wikipedia entry. He doesn’t seem to have been related to the marginally better-known George Bridgman. (George was born in Canada in 1865, while Lewis lived and died in Massachusetts.)

Most illustrations are full-page grayscale plates; only the frontispiece (top of this page) is in color. There are also four line drawings, marking the beginning of each Part, and a smaller picture for the title page. For the ebook, I’ve shifted these drawings to the main page, especially the Table of Contents.

The captions to the Bridgman plates include page numbers. I’ve retained these for completeness. Though they are not exactly the same as the pages in the edition used for the etext (Jarrold 19th), they are surprisingly close.

cover of Altemus edition
in imitation of John Beer

When the money started rolling in, Jarrolds got John Beer (1853–1906) to illustrate the 5th edition of Black Beauty. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a downloadable copy of this edition, so instead here’s an approximation. Near Beer, let’s say.

In the late 1890’s, Altemus of Philadelphia joined the growing list of American pirates by putting out their own edition “with fifty illus­trations”. Viewed side by side, the Altemus pictures bear a striking resemblance to John Beer’s designs. They’re not direct copies—nobody sneaked into the Jarrolds office to steal the plates or make photostats—but the derivation is obvious.

As with Hovendon and Toaspern, the figure “fifty” is a slight exaggeration; I make it closer to forty-five. Chalk it up alongside “so many thousands as would always be called ten”. They are all line drawings: some printed inline, some as full-page captioned plates.

The publishers must have especially liked the picture below, a brazen copy of Beer’s frontis­piece and cover. They used it twice: as their own frontis­piece, and then again in mid-text.

Black Beauty stands under a tree, facing the viewer

Black Beauty.


cover of 1916 edition
Cecil Aldin
Cecil Aldin’s signature

Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin (1870–1935) was best known for painting animals, especially dogs and horses. Around 1912 he got his shot at Black Beauty when Jarrolds put out an edition for distribution through Boots the Chemist.

In the ebook, Aldin’s pictures can be identified by their white border, matching the way they appear in the printed book. Except for the title-page drawing (below), all illus­trations were full-color plates. Captions were printed by themselves on a separate page. I haven’t included the captions in the ebook, but did use them as a guideline for picture placement. Page numbers in the printed List of Illus­trations are included here for complete­ness, though they have nothing to do with the pagination of the etext.

title-page drawing from Cecil Aldin edition

“As the sun was going down . . . we stopped at the principal hotel in the market place” Frontispiece
“The first place that I can well remember, was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it” 13
The dogs came dashing across the field . . . the horses following close upon the dogs 19
“I shall never forget the first train that ran by” 26
“The new bit was very painful, and I reared up suddenly” 44
“I will never say I was not frightened, for I was. I stopped still, and I believe I trembled” 74
Then the boy got off and gave him a hard thrashing 78
“I saw James coming through the smoke, leading Ginger” 96
The wheels had stuck fast in the stiff mud of some deep ruts 115
York promptly set himself flat on her head to prevent her struggling 131
“He gave me a steady rein, I gathered myself together and with ONE leap cleared both dyke and bank.” 140
Lord George took Ginger for hunting 142
She strained herself to the utmost and came in with the first three horses 155
“There, that’s the stone your horse has picked up” 162
A Horse Fair. . . . “There was a great deal of bargaining, running up and beating down” 183
“Without a master or friend, I was alone on that great slaughter ground” 199
“At this fair I found myself in company with the broken-down horses” 281
“I was driven every day for a week or so” 290

Lucy Kemp-Welch’s monogram
Lucy Kemp-Welch
another Lucy Kemp-Welch monogram

Lucy Kemp-Welch (1869–1958) was especially noted as a painter of horses—not just idealized abstractions, but real, individual horses. For Black Beauty, in an edition published by the Daily Sketch around 1915, her model for the title character was a horse belonging to Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell.

You might think that by this time there would be nothing new to illustrate. But Kemp-Welch seemed to favor text passages that earlier artists had over­looked—the brick­layer at work, for example. So even aside from her distinctive graphic style, her illus­trations are easy to identify.

In fact, Lucy Kemp-Welch must have loved Black Beauty—or book publishers simply loved her work. There are at least two different, unrelated editions with her name on them. Sadly, this isn’t the one with gorgeous full-color illustrations. So far, that one hasn’t shown up in any downloadable source; it may have been published after 1923, making it off limits anyway.

If this edition ever had a decorative cover, it is now lost; the copy I used has a plain library binding. The illus­trations, all line drawings, are fairly simple: frontis­piece (below), four full-page plates, and a picture heading each of the four Parts. As with Aldin, page numbers in the List of Illus­trations are included for completeness.

“I wonder who is coming in my place?” Frontispiece
James came to me with his arm bound up 13
The bricklayer came and pulled up a great many bricks 189
My dear master and I were at the head of the line 213
We at last reached home, and I, at least, was tired 271

close-up of man talking to a horse

“I wonder who is coming in my place?”