Many people know Beatrix Potter by her famous story of Peter Rabbit who broke into Mr. McGregor's garden.
But few realize that Beatrix was a naturalist and true bunny lover! The picture shown here is of Beatrix and her first rabbit "Benjamin Bouncer".
Recently I looked into more of the history of Beatrix and her bunnies. Here is what I found on Penguin's (book publisher) website:
Benjamin Bouncer was Beatrix's first pet rabbit. She bought him secretly from a London bird shop and sneaked him into the nursery in a paper bag. 'Bounce' became the model for many of Beatrix's rabbit drawings. On the back of a photograph of him, Beatrix wrote "This is the original 'Benjamin Bunny'. Benjamin was extremely fond of hot buttered toast, he used to hurry into the drawing room when he heard the tea-bell!"
Peter Piper was a Belgian buck rabbit 'bought at a very tender age'. Beatrix wrote in a letter to a child, 'Peter used to lie before the fire on the hearth rug like a cat. He was clever at learning tricks, he used to jump through a hoop, and ring a bell, and play the tambourine. I saw him once trying to play the tambourine on a straw hat!'"
And if you are wondering how Beatrix turned from naturalist to one of the most famous authors in the world, here is what the Penguin
site had to say:
"'Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter.' This is the introduction to one of the best-loved children's stories of all time – The Tale of Peter Rabbit. However, the story of how Beatrix Potter's most famous character came to have a book published about him is another tale entirely.
On September 4th, 1893, Beatrix sat down to write a picture letter to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of her ex-governess, all about a naughty rabbit called Peter. Noel was ill in bed and so Beatrix wrote to him: "My dear Noel, I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits…."
Some years later, Beatrix thought of publishing the story as a book. She rewrote it into an exercise book and sent it to six publishers. It was rejected by every one of them. It was not until Beatrix had printed the book herself that Frederick Warne agreed to publish it. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902, costing one shilling (the equivalent of just 5p today,) and became one of the most famous stories ever written.
Though Beatrix always believed in her book, even she was surprised by quite how popular it became. It was an overnight success, and she believed that this was because the story had originally been written for a real child."
Beatrix Potter has always been a favorite of mine. When I was younger I loved the beautiful drawings and of course stories about rabbits are always great! As an adult I am still drawn to the illustrations. But knowing the real Beatrix Potter, a smart, strong woman who loved bunnies, makes me love her that much more.
Don't have a Beatrix Potter book on your shelf? Check out this Beatrix Potter Collector's Box Set on Amazon.