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Historical Context in Black Beauty

Historical Context Examples in Black Beauty:

Part I - 08-Ginger's Story Continued

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"Tattersall's..."   (Part I - 08-Ginger's Story Continued)

Founded in 1776, Tattersall's is the leading auction site for horses in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"gypsies..."   (Part I - 09-Merrylegs)

Gypsies once relied almost exclusively on horses for transportation; when that no longer became necessary, they began to breed horses. A gypsy horse is thought to have something magical, or perhaps enchanting, about them. 

"lamp..."   (Part I - 10-A Talk in the Orchard)

In order to travel the dark, unlit roads at night, carriages often hung lanterns on either side of the vehicle to be able to see the sides of the road. 

"three shillings..."   (Part I - 17-John Manly's Talk)

A unit of British money, the shilling was worth about twelve pence (the equivalent of a penny); three shillings, then, was worth roughly thirty-six cents.

"the fever..."   (Part I - 17-John Manly's Talk)

Many people died in epidemics of different fever outbreaks, such as yellow fever or typhoid fever. The specific fever is unknowable to us here, but people at that time would have been familiar with regional outbreaks of fever.

"Dalby..."   (Part I - 19-Only Ignorance)

A supposed medicine developed by Englishman James Dalby. It claimed to be the cure for bowel and stomach problems in young children. One of the ingredients was opium, suggesting the medicine was one of many common quackeries (false or fake medicines). It was sold in America in the early 1800s. 

"bled..."   (Part I - 19-Only Ignorance)

Blood-letting was a medical procedure which was done on both humans and animals. The theory behind the practice was that the four body humors (fluids) had to be in balance for good health. Physicians generally tried to remove the amount of blood which they thought was in the hurt, sick, or diseased area (i.e., leg, arm). For hundreds of years, it was the primary treatment for every kind of disease or ailment.

"W----, ..."   (Part I - 21-The Parting)

Many 19th-century novels omitted the names of certain people and places, substituting a dash for all but the first letter—or perhaps the first and last letters. One reason may have been to allow the reader to concentrate on the story more than these kinds of details. 

"had two churches..."   (Part II - 29-Cockneys)

The pastor belonged to two churches, a common practice in rural areas.

"cockneys..."   (Part II - 29-Cockneys)

Specifically, a cockney is anyone born within the sound of the church bells of St. Mary-le-Bow, located at the east end of London. In general, the term refers to working-class Londoners. In this case, those who are not used to horses and riding because they are not aristocratic gentlemen.

"gas lamps..."   (Part III - 32-A Horse Fair)

Gas lamps were the early version of street lights, gas lanterns were either affixed (attached) to or hung from wrought iron poles, and every evening someone would light them.

"Crimean war..."   (Part III - 34-An Old War Horse)

Fought between October 1853 and February 1856, the Crimean War was fought in southern Russia (by Russia) against Britain, France, and Sardinia. It is considered the first modern war because of the technologies used and because it was so well documented by modern technology. The entire regions was forever changed by this war.

"knackers..."   (Part III - 40-Poor Ginger)

A knacker is someone who gets rid of dead animal carcasses, especially those which cannot be used for food, by turning them into something more useful. A horse carcass would often have been used to make dog food and glue, for example.

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