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Beatrix Potter and the Magic of Peter Rabbit

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Few words in children’s literature are more familiar and comforting than these...

“Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and their names were - Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter.”

And so begins Beatrix Potter’s THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, one of the most beloved and treasured children’s books of all time. A new generation will be introduced to Peter on the big screen when the movie is released on February 7th. It is my hope that it will bring all those movie-goers to seek out the rest of the story in the magic that is the life’s work of Beatrix Potter that began 125 years ago.

As a child, Beatrix Potter owned a pet bunny named Peter Piper, whom she loved dearly and used as her inspiration for Peter Rabbit. She took Peter for walks on a leash, and would sit by the fire with him in the evening. She later described him as “an affectionate companion and quiet friend.” She was fascinated with nature and all animals, spending hours studying and drawing them. Her interest in nature brought her to study plant life as an adult. Beatrix drew over 300 drawings of mushrooms, which led her to submitting a paper on spores to the Linnean Society of London. Her paper and drawings had to be presented by another botanist, a man, as they would not allow a woman to do so. Even so, Potter continued to draw and write.

When one of Potter’s friend’s children fell ill, Beatrix sent the child a letter with a little story about four rabbits named Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter and later sent letters to the young boy’s sisters about Squirrel Nutkin and Jeremy Fischer. These would later become the basis for her books when Potter was encouraged by her friend to expand and publish the stories her children had so loved. She submitted THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT to one publisher after another, being rejected six times. She disagreed with the publisher’s edits and with their notion that the books should be larger and more expensive, as she felt the book should fit into a child’s hand and be affordable, saying, “Little rabbits cannot afford to spend 6 shillings on one book and would never buy it.” She decided to self-publish her book and had 200 copies of The Tales of Peter Rabbit made, and quickly sold out and reprinted them.

In 1902, THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT began to be published by Frederick Warne and Company and through their distribution became even more popular. When Beatrix Potter heard that her book had been printed over 56,000 times, she said, “The public must be very fond of rabbits! What an appalling quantity of Peter!” Just a year later, she began to sew a Peter doll of gingham fabric, using hairbrush bristles for the whiskers, and with that, the first commercially licensed character was born. Soon Peter Rabbit could be seen on tea sets, figurines, and games.

All these years later, the appeal of the charming bunny in a blue coat endures. There's a timelessness about the stories; the adventures and mischief that Potter’s animals take part in bring delight to children of all ages. Her graceful writing and beautiful, detailed illustrations of animals in their elegant clothes will be an important part of children’s literature for all time.

Peter Rabbit will visit the store for a special story time this Wednesday, January 24th at 11am! In the meantime, we have a wonderful selection of Peter Rabbit books here at Interabang. Here are just a few of my favorites:

 

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780723247708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Warne - September 16th, 2002

Where's Peter? (Peter Rabbit) Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780723266365
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Warne - January 20th, 2011

Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales (Peter Rabbit) Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780723258049
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - October 19th, 2006

Sweet Dreams, Peter (Peter Rabbit) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780241275993
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - January 24th, 2017

The Tale of You: Hopping into Life (Peter Rabbit) Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780141363844
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - March 8th, 2016

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Story Board Book Cover Image
$6.99
ISBN: 9780723244325
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - March 1999

Peter Rabbit Naturally Better Classic Gift Set Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780723264231
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - September 3rd, 2009

Tickle, Tickle, Peter!: A First Touch-and-Feel Book (Peter Rabbit) Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780723267508
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - February 16th, 2012

Peter Rabbit Doodle Book Cover Image
$14.29
ISBN: 9780241249369
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Warne - July 19th, 2016