The stories of Beatrix Potter still hold up more than 70 years after her death, and new stories have just been found, including Kitty in Boots and a tale of an older Peter Rabbit. The whimsy in Beatrix Potter’s stories is particularly demonstrated in the tale of a cat about town. The lost manuscripts were found in the Potter archives in London.
The New York Times is reporting that Beatrix Potter fans are excited that the legend of Beatrix Potter will be reborn for a new generation. Jo Hanks of Penguin Random House Children’s Division said that these stories previously were not thought of as stand-alone stories, but they now have been rethought and introduced to the public.
“No one who was aware of it thought of it as a piece of publishing in its own right. I realized we had something truly phenomenal on our hands, a fantastic story that I wanted people to be able to read.”
But the issue that Hanks was facing was that because they weren’t published during Potter’s lifetime, they were never illustrated. Hanks thought long and hard and approached Quentin Blake, the longtime illustrator for Roald Dahl.
“Quentin has a very similar artistic sensibility to Potter’s; he loves rebellious characters. We thought his anarchic energy would really complement Potter’s text,” Hanks explained.
The stories will be released just in time for the celebration of Potter’s 150th birthday.
“It’s a happy birthday present for her,” Hanks said.
The Guardian reported that Quentin Blake’s naturalistic drawings are appealing to a whole new audience of Potter enthusiasts. Think along the lines of the Fantastic Mr. Fox. The Tale of Kitty In Boots is about a well-behaved prime black cat.
“The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter,” said Hanks. “It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales (including Mr Tod, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit)”. An ‘older, slower and portlier’ Peter Rabbit also makes an appearance.”
Quentin Blake believes that getting to draw Beatrix Potter’s characters was meant to be.
“I liked the story immediately – it’s full of incident and mischief and character – and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it. I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”
One of the reasons that these tales did not reach prominence was that life intervened. Between wars, marriage, and farming, and then Beatrix Potter’s death, they didn’t get finished and illustrated in the way Potter generally completed a project. With Quentin Blake’s help, that will now change.
Beatrix Potter tale uncovered after 100 years :) https://t.co/hMRDs7zYuI— Jaime (@mrs_jolly) January 26, 2016
NPR says that Beatrix Potter enthusiasts will love the tale of this fanciful feline and that it was worth the 100-year wait. And Hanks believes that stories with an edge are right up Quentin Blake’s alley. His depiction of a cat in tweeds hunting should become a new classic Potter image.
“Quentin revels in rebellious characters and humorous stories with spiky edge to them; he’s brought anarchic energy to the character of Kitty and embellished her already endearingly flawed character with his trademark wit and charm,” Hanks said.
And the childhood favorite of so many, Peter Rabbit, is reappearing, but he is “albeit older, slower and portlier.”
The cat is a man about town, with a classic, confident attitude that will appeal to adults and children.
A new Beatrix Potter book is coming your way: https://t.co/grhYo59UEx— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) January 26, 2016
Are you excited to see the new Beatrix Potter stories and drawings?
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images]