Beatrix Potter turns 150 on the 28th of July. The famed author and illustrator was perhaps one of the UK’s best naturalists, producing incredibly detailed drawings of countryside animals and contributing to the sciences.
But she is best known for writing some of the most popular books ever printed. The Tale of Peter Rabbit has been translated into many different languages, and has sold over 45 million copies, making it one of the most popular books of all time. Her legacy is enduring: books she wrote continue to sell around two million copies a year.
We’re celebrating 150 years of Beatrix Potter by revisiting her most famous characters - from Jemima Puddleduck to Peter Rabbit himself.
The star of the Tale of Peter Rabbit is Potter’s most famous creation. His debut featured the playful hare ignoring his mother’s advice not to steal vegetables from a local farmer, Mr. McGregor.
He visits the farmer’s field and gorges himself on carrots and greens, eating so much that he has to find herbs to settle his upset stomach. But he is discovered by Mr. McGregor, and loses his jacket and shoes as he tries to get away.
Many of Potter’s later stories feature Peter Rabbit in various roles, including in The Tale of Mr. Tod, where a grown-up Peter rescues his children after they are kidnapped by a badger. Peter Rabbit has
Jemima Puddle-Duck has one desire: she wants to hatch her own eggs. But her owners keep confiscating them, because they believe ducks to be poor at doing so, giving them to the hens instead. She hides them from the farmer, but they always end up getting found and carried away.
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck tells of Jemima’s journey to the local countryside, where she is convinced to lay her eggs in a fox’s home. After laying her eggs, the fox convinces her to gather herbs traditionally used to stuff ducks - a plan that the farm dog, Kep, sees through immediately. Jemima escapes, but loses her eggs in the process.
It’s not all bad, though - she later hatches four eggs, producing four happy ducklings. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck is about hunters and prey, and has been likened to Little Red Riding Hood. It’s one of Potter’s most popular stories, fraught with tension, and like all her books is full of beautiful illustrations.