As a continuation to the last post in I which talked about the reimagined CGI/live action version of Peter Rabbit, I wanted to address the source material, which was introduced to the public through The tale of Peter Rabbit, the book that jolted Beatrix Potter into celebrity status as well made her a rich children’s book author.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit follows the mischievous young rabbit Peter who lives with his mother and his three smaller sisters. Peter is disobedient and reckless and he enters the vegetable garden of a man named Mr. McGregor even though his father had been killed in the same garden by Mr McGregor and turned into a pie by Mrs. McGregor.
As the story unfolds Peter, of course, is discovered by Mr McGregor and almost faces the same fate as his father. It is classic children’s tale with a clear morale.
Even though Beatrix Potter’s story of the feisty rabbit with the blue jacket was rejected by numerous publishers, she finally got it published in 1902, and it became an instant success. In fact, the Tale of Peter Rabbit has been translated into 36 languages, and with 45 million copies sold it is one of the best-selling books of all time.
The success of course spawned several sequels, for instance the The tale of Benjamin Bunny, Peter’s cousin, and countless adaptations and tons of merchandise. As a matter of fact, Beatrix Potter was a very clever business woman, and when she understood that she had a success on her hands, she made a lot of Peter Rabbit toys to accompany the books. Nowadays, it is commonplace, but in the beginning of the last century, it was uncommon.
Finally, if you think a book that has sold 45 million copies must be the most sold book featuring a rabbit, you are wrong. Watership Down has sold 50 million copies and that novel was written 70 years after Peter Rabbit’s published appearance. Richard Adam’s portrayal of the rabbits that need to find a new home will also addressed in a later post.