LETTER : Early life of Peter Rabbit

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The Independent Online
From Ms Judy Taylor

Sir: Hunter Davies ("Rawnsley! Thou shouldst be living at this hour," 11 March) is quite right in saying that Canon Rawnsley deserves a full- length biography and perhaps a publisher will have a change of heart after his entertaining piece.

To correct the record, however, I must point out one or two inaccuracies in his account of how Peter Rabbit was first written and published. Rawnsley was certainly a great help to Beatrix Potter in attracting Frederick Warne's attention by retelling the story in his appalling rhyming couplets, but the tale was not written at his suggestion. It was first told in a letter to Noel Moore, the young son of her last governess, some seven years earlier.

The choice of black-and-white for the illustrations was Potter's on account of "the great expense of colour printing - and also the rather uninteresting colour of a good many of the subjects which are most of them in rabbit- brown and green."

The price of the privately printed edition of Peter Rabbit was one shilling, plus 2d postage, not 1/2d - a misreading of 1/2d that began, I believe, in a recent auction catalogue.

Yours sincerely,

JUDY TAYLOR

Chairman

Beatrix Potter Society

London, NW3

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