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Item 671 - Beatrix Potter Catalog 448 (Mar 2015)

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British author and illustrator (1866–1943) whose Edwardian-era tales of naughty rabbits, ‘bad’ mice, and other amusingly mischievous animals take a place among the most enduring and beloved works in the annals of children’s literature. Her first and best-known book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first published in 1902. ALS, four pages on two adjoining sheets, 3.75 x 6, January 21, 1912. Letter to a young admirer. In full: “You have written me such a dear little letter about Fluffy. I feel quite sad to disappoint you—I have begun another book about the fox! If I can do another book that Fluffy can come in to—I promise to remember him and ask for his picture again. You don’t know what heaps of letters I get from all over the world, and so many of them want a book about some special animal. There was a letter recently from a child in Wales who wants a book about a crocodile called Amelia! That I cannot stand! Then there is a small boy in Ireland who wants to know if Jeremy Fisher ever got married. And two want moles, & another wants a donkey named Salome, & another wants a horse book, and another wants hens, & another wants elephants—poor Miss Potter!

Fluffy must have surprised the guests at tea at that hotel! I can imagine him going from table to table and dropping dead. Peter Rabbit was rather clever at tricks, but he would never do any trick that required patience, like dying or begging quietly. He would jump through a hoop, or do a complicated set of backwards and forwards jumps, but he never would sit up properly still. He played the tambourine very grand, both scuffling on it with his claws and shaking the bells. But he was not such a character as Bounce (or Benjamin Bouncer). My last rabbit was called Joseph, he lived to be 9 or 10; I don’t intend to get another; I was always expecting Kep to kill him! I was rather thankful poor Joseph died peacefully. I have cocks and hens at present.” In very good condition, with three horizontal folds, a few light corner creases, a few small spots (including two next to signature), and light toning and soiling, a bit heavier to last page.

Potter’s letters to children often included stories she had invented and anecdotes about her pets. In this wonderful 1912 letter, she mentions her latest book “about a fox,” referring to The Tale of Mr. Tod, a children’s book about a badger named Tommy Brock and his fox neighbor, Mr. Tod. Potter found inspiration for her work in the country setting of her beloved Castle Farm in the English Lakes District and the story is set in the farm’s fields. She also mentions other books in the letter, including the tales of Peter Rabbit and Mr. Jeremy Fisher. Potter letters of this kind and content are rarely offered, and her wonderful description of her greatest character, Peter Rabbit, makes this especially desirable. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.

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