The Blagger's Guide To: Beatrix Potter

The rabbit who just runs and runs and runs

Peter Rabbit has his 110th birthday this year and, because he is a naughty bunny who secretly likes chocolate even better than Mr McGregor's radishes, he has chosen to celebrate it all Easter weekend.

Beatrix Potter's first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and sold more than 8,000 copies in its first edition. The bones of the story and some sketches had been written by Potter in 1893, in a letter to five-year-old Noel Moore, the poorly son of her former governess. In between, Potter sent the manuscript to six publishers, and received six rejections.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit has been translated into more than 35 languages – including hieroglyphs – and sold 40 million copies. The Peter Rabbit series has sold more than 151 million books. Four Beatrix Potter books are sold every minute.

Beatrix had a pet rabbit called Benjamin Bouncer who was "extremely fond of hot buttered toast" and used to be taken for walks on a lead. She borrowed the name for Mrs Tabitha Twitchit (the mother of Moppet, Mittens and Tom Kitten) from the farm cat she met at her Lake District home, Hill Top Farm. She bought a litter of piglets for the farm, the runt of which was rejected. Pig-wig, from The Tale of Pigling Bland, was based on her. She was "very friendly" and "liked being tickled under the chin".

Not all of Potter's animal friends were so cute and fluffy. As children, Beatrix and her brother Bertram kept mice, newts, bats, frogs, lizards and snakes. As a grown-up, Beatrix painted spiders and beetles for the Natural History Museum, and initially included earwigs and centipedes in The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse until her publisher asked her to remove them. She also wrote a scientific paper on fungus for the Linnean Society, but it had to be read on her behalf by a male colleague as women were not allowed to attend meetings.

When her publisher questioned the accuracy of Mr Jeremy Fisher's colouring, Beatrix Potter brought a live frog to his office to prove that she was right.

Beatrix Potter drew herself in two of her tales – as a distant figure watching the rats steal her wheelbarrow in The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, and helping the mother pig, Aunt Pettitoes, send her sons off to market in The Tale of Pigling Bland.

Potter was an expert sheep-breeder, often judged local agricultural shows, and was elected president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association in 1943. She would have been the first woman to hold the position, but died before she could take it up.

Peter Rabbit will be handing out Easter eggs at Heathrow airport all Easter weekend – their busiest weekend of the year. He'll be hopping round several terminals, so you'll have to be quicker than a farmer with a rake to catch him.

Frederick Warne have republished all 23 of Beatrix Potter's original tales in colourful editions, available now at £5.99 each. To celebrate the jubilee, Peter will appear in a union flag-covered edition, and in September, Warne will publish a new story by the actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson. In The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, "Peter's adventures take him beyond the boundaries of Mr McGregor's garden all the way to Scotland ..." A new tartan has been commissioned to mark the occasion.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory