The illustrations for this series were created by Scott McKowen, who, with his wife Christina Poddubiuk, operates Punch & Judy Inc., a company specializing in design and illustration for theater and performing arts. Their projects often involve research into the visual aspects of historical settings and characters. Christina is a theater set and costume designer and contributed advice on the period clothing for the illustrations.
Anna Sewell (30 March 1820 – 25 April 1878) was an English novelist, best known as the author of the classic novel Black Beauty.
Sewell was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, into a devoutly Quaker family. Her father was Isaac Phillip Sewell (1793–1879), and her mother, Mary Wright Sewell (1798–1884) was a successful author of children's books. She had one sibling, a younger brother named Philip and was largely educated at home.While seeking to improve her health in Europe, Sewell encountered various writers, artists, and philosophers, to which her previous background had not exposed her.
Sewell's only published work was Black Beauty, written during 1871 to 1877, after she had moved to Old Catton, a village outside the city of Norwich in Norfolk. During this time her health was declining. She was often so weak that she was confined to her bed and writing was a challenge. She dictated the text to her mother and from 1876 began to write on slips of paper which her mother then transcribed.
Sewell sold the novel to local publisher Jarrolds on 24 November 1877, when she was 57 years of age. Although it is now considered a children's classic, she originally wrote it for those who worked with horses. She said "a special aim [was] to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses".
Sewell died on 25 April 1878 of hepatitis or tuberculosis, five months after her book was published, living long enough to see its initial success.