Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots”

Beatrix Potter’s handwritten manuscript about a “well-behaved prime black kitty cat, who leads rather a double life” has only recently been discovered amongst the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Beatrix Potter Collections but it was written in 1914 the year that Potter’s father died and the First World War began.

Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots
Illustration by Quentin Blake of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. The image is copyright Mr Blake.
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The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is Beatrix Potter’s latest tale and it is to be published more than a century after she wrote it by Frederik Warne & Co.

Beatrix Potter is one of the world’s most popular authors. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was an instant success in 1902 and it went on to sell more than 45 million copies.

A publisher, Jo Hank, at Penguin Random House says that Potter’s latest book is the biggest Potter discovery in generations. It should be the last one to be found. Ms Hanks was apparently thumbing through an out-of-print literary history of Potter when she stumbled upon a reference to a story about a black kitty cat. She excitedly searched the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Beatrix Potter Collections and discovered the manuscript.

As it was written in 1914 it would seem that at that time Beatrix Potter had a lot on her mind. Not only had the First World War just begun but she had recently married and started a new career as a Lake District sheep farmer.

She intended to illustrate the story but was interrupted. She appeared not to have returned to it and therefore the book, to be published by Frederik Warne & Co. in September, will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, an example of which you can see on this page. He said the book is “full of incident, mischief and character”.

I hope that Mr Blake will allow me retrospectively to publish an example of his work to illustrate this short article. The picture is copyright Quentin Blake/Penguin books.

Source: The Times.

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