Few fictional animals have captured our hearts like those from Beatrix Potter's wonderful and fascinating 23 original tales. From Tom Kitten to Benjamin Bunny, these furry friends of ours continue to grace the literary world (and beyond) with their presence. Not only do Potter's stories remain a popular addition to many reader's bookshelves, but they continue to be adapted for other mediums such as film and TV. So, while we all may have unfortunately spent Easter indoors away from the hopping bunnies (though hopefully with no lack of chocolate at least), it seemed fitting to spend a little time reminiscing about the adventures and escapades of Peter Rabbit and company!
Who else could we possibly begin with? Peter Rabbit is undoubtedly the most famous of all of Potter's critters - most likely because he was the first and, as a result, the most successful character of her 23 stories. Originally written for the son of Potter's former governess, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was privately printed after multiple rejections. Nonetheless, it was later published by Frederick Warne and Co. in 1902 and became hugely successful. It has since sold over 45 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of all time!
The Two Bad Mice
The Tale of Two Bad Mice is exactly what you would expect from the title - a fun tale of two mischievous little rascals getting up to no good until their shenanigans are brought to an end. Wreaking havoc in a doll's house, this story is like many of Potter's in that - while suitable for children - it actually reflects slightly more serious matters. This one in particular has themes of rebellion and individualism, as well as touching on Potter's desire to free herself of her strict parents and create a home of her own without restrictions.
Mr Jeremy Fisher
The fantastic frog, Mr Jeremy Fisher, serves as the titular character of a story that truly represents Potter's adoration for all things natural. As well as paying homage to her father and his friend's past-time of fishing, the setting of the Lake District is also deliberate due to her love for the location - a love she shared for much of the English countryside, shown through her magnificent drawings. Though published in 1906, the character of Mr Jeremy Fisher has his routes all the way back to a letter Potter wrote as a child, 13 years prior, showing that often the most wonderful things come from the minds of children.
The Tale of Tom Kitten is one story that perhaps all children can relate to most - or, at least, the naughtiest of them! When Mrs Tabitha Twitchit invites some friends over for tea, it's her kittens (Tom and his sisters, Moppet and Mittens) who threaten the peace by behaving in a messy and disorderly fashion. Once again, this fun and humorous read is alike many of Potter's in that it touches upon real-life situations and matters. In this case, the topic is manners and how children react to them... which, let's face it, is not always how they should!
Critically considered to be one of Beatrix Potter's best books, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck tells of Jemima, a farm duck, whose eggs are repeatedly confiscated by the farmer's wife who believes Jemima to be a bad sitter. The titular character searches for a place away from the farm to lay her eggs in peace, only to find herself in even more peril at the hands of a sly and untrustworthy fox. What's truly fascinating about this classic tale is that it was greatly influenced by an even older and more infamous story - Potter herself indicated that The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck was a revision of Little Red Riding Hood.
Last, but certainly not least, comes The Tale of Pigling Bland. Following the adventures of the titular pig, Pigling Bland and his experiences are all greatly influenced by events in Beatrix Potter's personal life - which, by now, should come as no surprise. The character himself is inspired by a Berkshire pig that Potter herself acquired in her life, a pig she was fond of and described as very friendly. On top of this, Pigling Bland's life changes upon meeting his soul mate is a reflection of Potter's own personal life at the time with her upcoming marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to read our book blog on Beatrix Potter's 23 tales. We hope you're all staying well and safe out there. If you find yourselves needing a little extra entertainment during this difficult time of isolation and restrictions, feel free to browse our extensive vintage Beatrix Potter book collection to help you pass the time!