A never-published Beatrix Potter story has been discovered, illustrated and will be launched in September, melting all our hearts again with the beauty that this author brought to several generations of children with the Tales of Peter Rabbit.
The story was found by publisher Jo Hanks in an old letter Ms Potter had sent to her publisher in 1914. The letter referred to a story of “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life”, and referred to an unedited manuscript of the tale.
Hanks instigated a search through the archives of V&A London and found handwritten manuscripts, a colour sketch and a dummy typeset book complete with a pencil sketch of one of the characters.
Letters found with the referenced letter demonstrated that because of the timing, with the first world war, followed by her marriage, the challenging of sheep farming and it was never finished when she died in 1943. Quentin Blake, most famous for illustrating Roald Dahl’s books has been engaged to illustrate the book and is excited about doing so.
“It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter; one which had lain unpublished for 100 years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated.”
“I liked the story immediately – it’s full of incident and mischief and character – and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it,” he said to the Guardian. “I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”
And the publisher is excited too. She is reported by the Guardian as saying:
“The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter,” said Hanks. “It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales (including Mr Tod, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit)”.
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be published in September by Frederick Warne & Co. Keep an eye out for your grandkids.