Peter Rabbits 110th Birthday!

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Peter Rabbit’s 110th Birthday!

Yes, it’s true; Peter Rabbit celebrates his 110th birthday this month! Created by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit first appeared in print in 1902 in the book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, based on an illustrated letter that Potter had sent to a sick child.

Peter Rabbit, a disobedient and mischievous character, was based on Potter’s own pet rabbit, named Peter Piper.

     

 

In the story Peter lives with his mother and sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail in a rabbit hole under a fir tree close to Mr. McGregor’s garden. It was in this garden that Peter’s father met with disaster and ended up as the main ingredient of a rabbit pie, which was why his mother had forbidden the young rabbits to go there.Needless to say, Peter sneaks into the garden while his mother and sisters are out gathering blackberries, has the time of his life feasting on carrots until Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him. Peter loses his jacket and shoes during the chase and Mr. McGregor later uses these to make a scarecrow.

Finally Peter escapes from the garden and returns home to his mother feeling sick, both from fear and from over-eating carrots, and is sent to bed with a mug of camomile tea. His sisters meanwhile, whom Potter reminds us, have been “good little bunnies”, have blackberries, bread and milk for their suppers.

Beatrix Potter, born in 1866, was much more than an author of children’s’ books, even though her name will forever be associated with Peter Rabbit.  With parents interested in science and nature, Beatrix and her younger brother Bertram enjoyed holidays in the English and Scottish countryside. They also had a menagerie of small animals as pets which the two children enjoyed drawing and painting.

Her artistic talent was recognised and she received private lessons, but preferred to develop her own style, with watercolour becoming her favourite medium. In addition to her animal and insect paintings, she gained some recognition in the 1890’s with a self-illustrated research article on fungi spore reproduction.

By 1905 Potter was able to buy Hill Top Farm in the English Lake District with the help of a legacy from an aunt to supplement the proceeds from her books. Over the coming years she continued to write and buy up further farms in the area in an effort to preserve the unspoiled landscape of the area.

On her death in 1943, Potter left nearly all her landholdings to the National Trust and it is thanks largely to her efforts that the Lake District National Park remains an area of outstanding national beauty.  

 
But as long as there are children, Beatrix Potter will remain indelibly linked to the incorrigible Peter Rabbit. Happy birthday, Peter!

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