THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, BEATRIX POTTER, 1902 – #illusthursday

The tale of Peter Rabbit is Beatrix Potter’s most popular and well-loved children book; it has been translated into 36 languages, and it is one of the best-selling books of all time (45 million copies sold!).

The story is about a mischievous rabbit that disobeys his mother’s orders, risks his life running off in McGregor’s vegetable garden and faces later the consequences of his actions. What touches the reader it’s not just the story itself, it’s also the exquisite watercolours that illustrate the story: pretty anthropomorphic animals and beautiful bucolic landscapes. Those are all taken from Beatrix’s childhood; she spent her summers surrounded by the green hills of Scotland, exploring the countryside and spending hours and hours in drawing sketches of animals and plants.

She become a fine artist, botanist and storyteller; but as an adult she had to fight to pursue her interests. Incredibly fascinated by the natural world she become an adept scientific illustrator, studying botany and developing  her own theory on fungi’ spores reproduction. Although she could never publish her paper, as women at that time were not permitted to take part in universities, her contribution is still recognised today.

Beatrix’s resourceful spirit also led her to be a businesswoman; after being rejected by several publishers, she decided to independently publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit herself, as long as its success attracted Frederick Warne & Co.’s interest. She was one of the few women at the time to earn her own money. She had the idea herself to create a merchandising based on her characters, remaining involved in the high-quality product development: she designed the first Peter Rabbit plush, the board game, almanacs and painting books, contributing to her children’s book global success.

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Visit Peter Rabbit world.
The evolution of the book covers through the years.

 

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