Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

150 Years of Beatrix Potter

Image Credit: Beatrix Potter

This month marks 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, an English writer, a skilful illustrator and the creator of the most beloved children's books of all time. And today we invite you to celebrate the occasion by indulging in these charming Edwardian tales that have fascinated generations of young readers around the world!

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

'Now my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’

Inspired by a heartfelt letter written to a sick boy, The Tale of Peter Rabbit has captivated the hearts of millions of young readers around the world. Exuberant and troublesome, Peter is often compared to his well-behaved sisters Mopsy, Flopsy and Cotton-tail as they leap from the pages of a beloved story to entertain and caution errant children of the severe consequences of mischief.

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

Written in 1903, the tale reflected the acceptable norms of behaviour at the turn of the century by making an example of a squirrel who lost his tail as a direct result of his arrogance.

One autumn, the pursuit of nuts brings Nutkin, Twinkleberry and other squirrels to Owl Island. Having crossed the lake on nothing but tiny rafts made of twigs, ingenious rodents quickly learn the gift of diplomacy by bringing the mole, mice and other dead offerings to the terrifying guardian Old Brown Owl. However, Nutkin is not in the mood for hard work letting his friends collect nuts while he plays “ninepins with a crab-apple and green fir cones”. His audacity and ill manners don’t go unnoticed for very long as the Old Owl teaches Nutkin a lesson he is most unlikely to forget!

This thoroughly enjoyable tale of impertinence conveys Edwardian moral values reiterating the notion of social propriety.

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

A truly memorable follow-up to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, this delightful story of frivolous misbehaviour is set in familiar vegetable patch. The absence of Mr and Mrs McGregor doesn’t go unnoticed attracting the local rascals like Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit to their luscious garden.Their plans to retrieve Peter’s clothes and indulge in the fine harvest are doomed to fail as the cousins become trapped under a basket by a cunning guard cat. This whimsical tale of perilous journey reinforces the moral values and the notion of disciplinary repercussions of disobedience.

The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

This charming tale of hard work and kind nature is centred around a little girl Lucie who, in pursuit of her missing handkerchief, happens upon a cosy cottage in the midst of the hills where she meets bustling Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. The story unfolds as the little girl offers her help in delivering clothes that Mrs Tiggy-Winkle kindly washes and irons for neighbouring animals. The eventful day introduces Lucy to Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and other familiar characters bringing her to realisation that the washerwoman is nothing else but a hedgehog!

The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

In 1906 Beatrix Potter joined her father and his friends on their fishing expedition to Scotland. During the holiday, the writer indulged in a fully illustrated correspondence with a child, which breathed a new life into The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. When Mr Fisher, an optimistic and adventurous frog, decides to treat his dinner guests to freshly caught minnows, little does he know that a seemingly safe fishing escapade will soon turn into his worst nightmare. As he sails on a large pad leaf, a biting water-beetle, a fighting stickleback and a very hungry trout, who finds Mr Fisher irresistibly mouthwatering, accompany an unfortunate frog on his journey. The master of artistic style, Beatrix Potter doesn’t spare any detail adorning the book with a very realistic description of animal world.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter’s country life at the Hill Top Farm served as an abundant source of inspiration for her animal characters and delicate illustrations.

Jemima is a real farm duck who is struggling to hatch her own eggs. Having suffered for too long, the mother duck flees the overcrowded barn in search of a safe nesting spot. On her journey, she meets a dashing gentleman Foxy who is determined to lure the destitute duck into his summer shed. Dazzled by his impeccable manners, Jemima remains oblivious to all the clues revealing the cruel intentions of Foxy. A seemingly endearing story of naiveté has a strong underlying motive of menacing violence teaching an important lesson of never trusting a stranger.

The Tale of Ginger and Pickles

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

This witty tale of two kind-hearted shop owners, Ginger and Pickles, teaches a lesson about economics to both children and adults alike. The store, that sells good entirely on credit, quickly gains popularity attracting the bargain hunters who are reluctant to settle their debts. The situation gets more complicated when the business owners restrain their natural instincts to eat some of their customers by resorting to consumption of their own inventory. Unable to pay their annual taxes and licence fees, Ginger and Pickles are forced to close the store. Beatrix Potter enriches the story with dry humour and wry observations turning a children’s book into an entertaining crowd pleaser for all ages.

The Tale of Mr Tod

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

The moral of this quintessential cautionary tale can be summed up in an ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The story reintroduces the beloved characters Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny who become inadvertently embroiled in a life-threatening situation. The story revolves around two feuding villains Tommy Brock the badger, whose grinning face masks his sinister plots and Mr Tod the fox, who is disliked and feared by many animals. When the badger kidnaps the rabbit babies in the absence of Flopsy, Benjamin Bunny secures the help of his brother-in-law, Peter Rabbit, in the hope to find his offsprings. Luckily, the rabbits find an unlikely ally in their bid to confront Tommy Brock. Mr Tod comes to a rescue at the most opportune moment and saves the day!

The Tailor of Gloucester

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

The Tailor of Gloucester was allegedly Beatrix Potter’s favourite story which was very different from her other tales. This time the story is centred around a human being- a tailor who supplies luxury garments to the wealthiest people in town yet barely makes ends meet. When, much to his surprise, the tailor is commissioned to make a wedding waistcoat for Mayor of Gloucester, things seem to be looking up for him. Yet a sudden change of fortune brings tailor to his knees as he is struggling to fulfil the order in time. Tired and ill, the tailor is forced to work in freezing conditions and rely on his cat Simpkin to obtain the final piece of fabric. However, the scheming feline is determined to play tricks on his master putting the grand project in jeopardy. Despite all obstacles, the tailor receives some help from the most unexpected source- the grateful mice who were rescued by the Tailor from the devious Simpkin.

The Tale of Little Pig Robinson

Image credit: Beatrix Potter

Summer holidays spent at various seaside resorts across England had a profound impact on Beatrix Potter as a child. Many years later, the writer conjured up a cumulative image which became the basis for the setting of Little Pig Robinson. When a routine shopping trip turns into an exciting adventure, young pig embraces this unexpected twist of fate and sets off on a thrilling sea voyage aboard the Pound of Candles. However, soon he discovers that the generosity of the sailers is nothing but a trick to fatten up the gullible Little Pig for a special roast dinner on the captain's birthday.