Marcia Strykowski

Beatrix and Peter

beatrix ovalSomething about this time of year always makes me ponder rabbits. So, who better to feature than the creator of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 and died on December 22, 1943. Young Beatrix spent many hours sketching her beloved animals. She and her younger brother Bertram explored the countryside in England, as well as Scotland. Beatrix_PotterAlthough she studied at the National Art Training School between 1878 and 1883, her delightful style of animal antics was primarily self-taught. Her talent for drawing grew and she later made up animal stories to go with her illustrations. Thanks to her father’s interest in photography, there are many pictures chronicling her life.

 Potter and her mother Helen Leech Potter.

Potter and her mother Helen Leech Potter.

Rupert Potter (her father) Beatrix, Bertram Potter (her brother), 1894

Rupert Potter (her father), Beatrix, and Bertram Potter (her brother), 1894.

PeterRabbitcomboPeterRabbitcombo2

Peter_Rabbit_first_edition_1902aHer first works were printed as greeting cards. In 1902, Frederick Warne & Co. published her enchanting The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This began her career where she wrote and illustrated more than two dozen books for children, including The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and other classics. B_Potter_and_her_husband_W_Heelis_1913In 1913, Potter married local lawyer William Heelis (after a much earlier romance with Norman Warne, who died weeks after his proposal). Her book-work slowed down now that she spent more time on farming and conservation than she did on writing, due not only to a growing interest in her land, but to her failing eyesight, as well. Potter_and_KepShe was also a prosperous breeder of sheep, shown at right with her dog Kep.
peter coinTwo wonderful events are happening this year to honor 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter. The Royal Mint has put Peter Rabbit on a 50p silver coin. He will be the first character from children’s literature ever to appear on a UK coin. Stay tuned, three more of Potter’s animal friends will also be on coins!
kittyMy second surprise is a long-lost story of Beatrix Potter’s will be published for the first time this year. The manuscript will need a bit of editing and unfortunately only one illustration was found, but talented Quentin Blake has stepped in to bring The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots to life. Look for it in your favorite bookstore next September. Meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful spring, be on the watch for bunnies, and Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

52 Comments

  1. Love this! I’ve been a Beatrix fan since I was two when my mother read me Peter, and I’ve seen the film “Miss Potter” at least a zillion times. Happy Easter, Marcia!

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    • “Miss Potter” is a wonderful film. Have a wonderful Easter, Pierr!

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  2. What a wonderful story to tell! Of course, we all grew up with Beatrix Potter. Her stories are timeless!

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  3. I love Beatrix Potter and her books. I always give a Beatrix Potter book or two for baby gifts to start the little one’s library.

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  4. We are on the same wave length with our Beatrix Potter posts! I wanted to order one of those colored PR coins, but they were all sold out. Looking forward to Kitty in Boots!

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    • They sold out very fast and I think they were even limited to a certain number per family. I’ll have to catch up on reading posts. 🙂

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  5. Joyce Teal

    Love her books! So glad my grandson has copies of her stories!

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  6. Anonymous

    That’s great news about the coin!

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  7. Thank you for this wonderful post, Marcia. Of all the books I read to children, I haven’t read Peter Rabbit aloud. I love (and read) the classics as well as the new, so I will be reading Peter Rabbit soon to my class. This makes me feel excited!

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  8. What a lovely post Marcia, Gosh, the Potter books go way back ! Beautiful memories. Happy Easter 🙂

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  9. I love these stories so much. They take me back to my childhood instantly. jemima was my favourite cuddly toy, now given to my daughter. And a new story..: how exciting? Thank you for sharing!

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    • Nice that your daughter is now enjoying Jemima Puddle-Duck. I don’t think I’ve seen her as a stuffed toy over here, but I can imagine she’s perfect!

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  10. Hi Marcia,
    I loved the photos and the history. Lovely post!

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    • Thanks, Ali! It was fun to find so many pictures available in the public domain.

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  11. A perfect post for Easter!

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  12. This is such a lovely post Marcia and perfect for Easter! I knew about the coin (and can’t wait to own one) but missed the news about the long-lost book, how exciting. I’m not sure about Quentin Blake. I like his style, but I’m not sure it will complement Beatrix Potter – I guess time will tell.
    Coincidentally, I’ve just read The shepherd’s life by James Rebanks. It is a beautifully written book, and Beatrix Potter is mentioned more than once. It was recommended to me by an employee of Waterstones. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it but I can honestly say I didn’t want it to end and will be reading it again very soon.
    Happy Easter. xx

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    • I’ve just looked up The Shepherd’s Life and it does look like a great read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, I’ll add it to my list. And yes, it will be interesting to see how Quentin Blake’s style works through the entire book. Happy Easter, Barbara!

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  13. My daughter loved Peter Rabbit as a child! How neat it is that one of her writings have been found and will be published 🙂

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    • Hi Kathleen! Isn’t it amazing how popular Peter Rabbit is around the world and for so many generations? Glad your daughter got to know him, too. 🙂

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  14. I knew I recognized that illustrator, even before I saw the name on the cover! I love Quentin Blake’s work. How neat that a new book of hers will soon be out- after all this time!

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    • He does have a very unique, easily recognized style. I’m sure Beatrix never dreamed she’d have a book released one hundred years later. If a debut author had submitted the same story, I wonder if it would have made it past the publishing house’s first reader.

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  15. Marcia– your posts are always so darn interesting!! Fun to read about Beatrix Potter– but I’m most excited about the new book, illustrated by Quentin Blake!! Love, love his work. HIs ABC book is one the liveliest funniest books on my shelf, a big favorite. thanks for another fun read…

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    • Thank you, Rhonda! I’ve seen several of the ‘Kitty in Boots’ illustrations and they’re very well done, should be a fun book. 🙂

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      • I have an old paperback fairy tail series that was my fathers. And it has a grand Puss In Boots. (but I’m partial to Quentin Blake!) Hope all’s well with you Marcia. xox

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        • Your old fairy tale series sounds like a special treasure. I did wonder how close this new story is to Puss in Boots. We shall see!

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  16. slochman

    Marcia – wonderful post – as always! Have you considered writing nonfiction picture books?

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    • Thanks, Sharon! I’ve attempted a couple of nonfiction picture book manuscripts, but I haven’t gotten very far.

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  17. I love Beatrix Potter’s books. It’s fun to learn a little more about her. It’s amazing that there are so many great photos of her. I think that’s pretty unusual for that time period.

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    • What’s even more unusual is that I believe the photo with her father in it was taken by her father. Automatic timer in those days? Either way, I’m glad he took so many pictures.

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  18. Her bunny illustrations are really the classics, aren’t they. Soft yet adventurous-looking. 🙂 Hope you had a happy Easter celebration with your family, Marcia.

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    • She did have tremendous illustration talent, as well as writing. Easter was nice, thanks Claudine!

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  19. Marcia! Your Web site is beautiful and I LOVE this post about Beatrix Potter. She is one of my favorite writers — I’ve read quite a lot about her and you showed me things I hadn’t seen and told me things I didn’t know. Thank you.

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    • Hi, Libby! I’m so happy you enjoyed this post. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be checking out yours, as well. It was a real treat to meet you this past weekend.

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  20. Bette Norton

    What a delightful post on one of my favorite illustrators and authors! I love Beatrix Potter’s Books and enjoyed the film “Miss Potter” very much! Peter Rabbit and his timeless antics are so much fun to read. Potter’s illustrations are just beautiful! How very exciting that a new book will be published after so many years after her death. I enjoyed looking at all the great photos of Beatrix and her family! Your post is so well done! Perfect for spring! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Bette. It’s amazing how long her little books have survived and continue to thrive.

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  21. Ashley

    Another beautiful post!! I never knew how interesting Beatrix Potter was. I only knew Peter Rabbit!!

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  22. Her drawings mesmerize me with their sweet images and detail. I took an even greater interest in her after getting a full understanding of her life in the lovely and inspiring film “Miss Potter”. Marcia, this post is such a treat!

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    • I’m thinking I should watch “Miss Potter” again; it’s been a while and these comments are bringing it back to mind. Thanks for your comment!

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  23. Marcia, your posts are so informative. I would love, love to obtain a 50p coin with Peter Rabbit on it. Do I have to travel to the UK to get it? Maybe my traveling daughter can find one on her trips to Scotland.

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    • Hi Joyce, I think the coins were briefly available online from places like the Royal Mint. The colored ones ran out fast, but the plain ones are supposedly out there in circulation. Aren’t they beautiful? Hopefully your daughter will come across one, good luck!

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  24. I have requests for Beatrix’s books from a lot of 2nd grade students. I even own bilingual (Chinese) copies in my ESL collection. I was excited to see new books being written by Emma Thompson, and I stumbled across a like new copy of A Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit (with the dust jacket and CD) for less than a dollar at Goodwill! It’s great to know Peter and all his friends are finding new generations.

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    • Isn’t it wonderful how her books continue to be popular year after year? I’d love to see them in Chinese. And I’ll have to look up Emma’s books, too. Your book with CD sounds like a great find. Thanks for sharing here; your students are lucky to have you!

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      • I helped write a grant for creating an ESL section and I tried to get as many languages as possible. I want more of the original stories in English but the bilingual books are fun to show students and work as a resource until I can buy more.

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