First published in 1902 by Frederick Warne & Co., The Tale of Peter Rabbit is an endearing story that continues to be popular nearly a century after its original publication.
Behind the Tale
The Tale of Peter Rabbit first began in a series of letters and illustrations sent to the children of Beatrix Potter's former tutor, Annie Moore. Potter continued to send these letters, inspired by her former pet rabbit Peter Piper, throughout 1890. In 1900, Moore suggested that Potter would find commercial success by formalizing the story into a book. Soon after, she borrowed the letters from the Moore family and chose a letter she had written in September of 1893 as the basis for the book.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The story follows the eponymous character Peter Rabbit, a mischievous young rabbit that is warned by his mother not to enter the garden of Mr. McGregor, or he may face the same fate as his father, who was baked into a pie by Mrs. McGregor. Rather than listen to his mother, Peter sneaks away from his family, heading to the garden. After eating his fill, he is spotted by Mr. McGregor, who gives chase. As Peter runs away from the farmer, he loses his jacket and shoes and attempts to hide but is spotted once again. Peter, however, evades the farmer once more and escapes the garden. Arriving home with a stomachache from eating too much for his own good, his mother puts him to bed while the rest of the family enjoys a dinner of bread, milk, and blackberries. The story ends with Mr. McGregor fashioning a scarecrow from Peter's lost clothes and leaving the young reader with an understanding of the importance of listening to their parents.
Potter's Later Career
Following the success of Peter Rabbit, Potter would go on to produce 22 other books under "The Tale of…" format. Using the proceeds from her writing, she purchased farms in the Lancashire area, intent on protecting the unique landscape that surrounded it.
After contracting pneumonia in December of 1943, Potter died at 77, leaving her land to the National Trust of England. Much of this land would go on to become the Lake District National Park and a living legacy to the life of the beloved children's author.