But where did the story of Peter Rabbit actually start? Well, it all began in the imagination of Beatrix Potter™ — a British-born natural scientist and conservationist. She created Peter Rabbit in 1893 as a short tale for private enjoyment, in a letter to her former governess’ sick child. However, the story was so well received, Beatrix Potter’s friends encouraged her to find a publisher. In 1901, Potter’s quest for a publisher was unfruitful, and so she released it herself to critical acclaim. The original Tale of Peter Rabbit had forty-two black and white illustrations — all drawn by Beatrix Potter culminating her artistic flair, creativity and love of nature — with the pages printed in a small format, making the book easy for children to hold and read.
The story was so well received, that just one year later, Frederick Warne & Co. agreed to publish the book. Some minor changes were made to the original compared to the commercially released version, most notably the move from black and white hand drawn images to the delicate watercolour versions of the wonderful wildlife-inspired characters we’ve come to know and love today.
While there may have been some small changes in illustrations, the plot and storyline of the Tale of Peter Rabbit remains the same today as the original published 120 years ago. Centring on the main mischief maker, Peter Rabbit, whose disobedience leads to trouble at every twist and turn of the tale, the story is fun and frivolous while also featuring a moral lesson to introduce young readers to the real dangers of the adult world, along with the notion that actions often have consequences.
In the original tale, we’re introduced to Peter Rabbit — the character that would soon become everyone’s favourite bob-tailed bunny and adored by fans of the furry little friend for decades to come.
Peter is far more adventurous than his siblings: Flopsy™, Mopsy™, and Cotton-tail™, leading to his well-earned title of being a mischief maker! Before going to the bakers, Mrs. Rabbit warns Peter and his sisters to avoid Mr. McGregor’s garden, because their father had an 'accident' there and ended up in a pie. However, after she leaves for the bakers, Peter naughtily ignored his mother’s words of warning and squeezed under the garden gate to gorge on Mr. McGregor’s vegetables, while his sisters obediently went up the lane to pick blackberries ready for their supper.
Mr. McGregor™ soon spots Peter near the cucumber frame and chases the terrified rabbit all over the garden, causing Peter to loses both his shoes and his iconic little blue jacket amidst the chaos. After finally locating the gate, Peter returns home frightened but a little wiser having learned the lesson that he should listen to his mother’s warning. As a consequence of his actions, Peter received a cup of chamomile tea that evening, while his obedient sisters enjoyed a supper of milk and blackberry pie from their earlier fruit foraging.
Since Peter’s first big adventure, Beatrix Potter went on to write over another twenty tales, all featuring Peter Rabbit and his fury friends, including his cousin Benjamin Bunny™, Jemima Puddle-Duck™ and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle™. With simple plots, engaging life lessons and not to mention beautiful illustration too, it’s no wonder that Beatrix Potter and her works have been loved by children and grown-ups alike across the ages. From books, to a film franchise, clothing, homeware and collectable figurines, this mischief maker dressed in a blue coat and white bob tail has stood the test of time. Not only is the Tale of Peter Rabbit a classic, the character has become an icon that is sure to be loved by generations to come!
Here at Enesco, (if you couldn’t already tell…) we’re huge fans of Peter Rabbit. In fact, we have been proudly producing Beatrix Potter giftware since gaining a licence in 1987. Since then, our range has grown considerably in size and popularity to include award-winning nursery and baby collections, homeware, ladies’ accessories, collectable figurines and more, yet there still there remains a faithful attention the original illustrative style of Peter Rabbit and his friends across all of our pieces.
So, whether you’re a life-long fan of Beatrix Potter’s literary works or have recently discovered the wonderful world of Peter Rabbit and his furry friends, however you’re celebrating the main mischief maker’s 120th anniversary, we’re sure you’ll find something that is just paw-fect for you here at Beatrix Potter Gifts by Enesco!
Why not take a look at our Limited Edition 120th Anniversary Figurine before you go!