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Monday, July 28, 2008

Author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit Born on This Day

Today, July 28th, is the birthday of Beatrix Potter author of one of the all time classic children's stories, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which involves a mischievous young rabbit named Peter who disobeys his mother and sneaks into the garden of a cranky old farmer named Mr. McGregor. Peter's reward is a nice meal of greens but his joy only lasts until Mr. McGregor comes by and spies Peter eating up the produce of the garden which he has worked so hard at growing. Grabbing a rake, Mr. McGregor goes after Peter intending, not just to scare Peter off, but to catch and serve him for dinner - just as he served Peter's father who was unlucky enough to be caught while raiding Mr. McGregor's garden. Peter, of course manages to escape but not before he loses the new jacket his Mother had just made for him. Happy to still be alive Peter goes home to a scolding from his Mother and is sent to bed without supper.

This classic tale first appeared in a letter to the child of a friend of Beatrix Potter. The boy was sick and, to cheer him up, Beatrix, who was both a talented artist and naturalist, wrote the story in the form of a letter to the boy. Interspersed among the text were pictures, drawn by Beatrix, that illustrated it.

A few years later, seeking additional income, Beatrix Potter decided to try to have her work published and choose the tale of Peter Rabbit for her first book. Despite being turned down by every publisher she showed the book to, she decided to have 250 copies published at her own expense. Those who read it liked it and soon after she found a publisher who agreed to publish it. The 250 books that Beatrix paid to have printed had been released in 1900 and in December of 1901 the first publisher's edition of 8,000 books hit the market. The book was an immediate commercial success and has remained popular to this day.

Click here for a related article I published on Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit on my BlogEvolve blog.

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