Monday, July 28, 2003

Those Wascally Wabbits

28 July 2003 Those Wascally Wabbits

Those wascally wabbits:

Beatrix Potter, A Fierce Bad Rabbit

and everybody's favorite bunny

Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit

to find the ebooks in the

University of Virginia eText Library
scroll to author's name

She was born in 1886 in the lake District to a rich Victorian family. Beatrix had a brother, Bertram, who later influenced her to break the parental noose to marry. Although often overlooked, she was a skilled draughtsman for botanical illustrations in an age when women were socially dismissed from scientific publications.

Women Illustrators: Beatrix Potter
in frames, click name in left list

Potter, Helen Beatrix (mycologist, writer)

However, her fame accrued not from the precise sketches of plants, but from a book that was written for five-year-old invalid boy. She sent the copy to a friend, Rawnsley for review. He liked thhe pictures, but thought the text wanted improvement and volunteered his own. Beatrix declined and sent it to Frederick Warne & Co who also put the book on indefinite hold. Beatrix determined to bring out hr own book, published 450 privately. The rest became history as Warne became suitably interested to publish Nutkin Squirrel, Benjamin Rabbit and a few others.

The books have been a constant delight to children, perhaps because of the appealing size, exquisite illustrations on glossy papers and the witty text of the mischievous rabbit and his troubles. Few wabbits ever achieve such notoriety with the exception of Bugs Bunny brought out by Warner Bros on the old Saturday morning Bugs Bunny Show. For Christmas, there is the wonderful Velveteen Rabbit and then the Thornton Burgess series of Old Mother West Wind and the rolly-poly Peter Rabbit associated with Freddy Fox and friends at the Smiling Poool.

There's none though that has ever rivalled Beatrix Potter's the mischievous rabbit that lost his shoes and coat in Mr. MacGregor's garden and went to bed with a cold while Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail had fresh blackberries. The book is still as fresh and sweet as blackberries picked at the end of July or beginning of August although now over a hundred years old. Warne has kept the copyright, but there are a few illustrated ebooks available through the University of Virginia Library system in the online etext system.

In reality, Beatrix Potter had little outlet for enjoyment in her life as her parents not only isolated her in childhood, but also dominated her in adulthood with their demands. She remained single until forty-seven, caring for their needs when she finally hired a nurse to tend to her father. She became deeply involved in preserving the historical geography of the Lake District because she feared that modernizations and industrialization would destroy the environment, buying up large tracts o land for the National Trust. In doing so, she needed a solicitor to handle the properties and hired W. Heelis & Co to look after her interests. With her brother's support and encouragement, she broke away from her parents' control to marry William Heelis. They raised prized Herdwick sheep.

The books are as lovely today as they were when I was a child. They still hold the surprise and delight at the turn of the page now as then, although like most small children I probably knew the text by heart and chanted alongside my indulgent reader. The ebooks come complete with illustrations. There are several online texts in the University of Virginia etext system. Please respect their rules. The U. of Virginia Archive is valuable and it would be a shame to lose public access as a result of user's violations. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was one of the very first discoveries I made on the internet, and you can imagine how delighted I was to watch the slow loading of graphics, isolated in Prague.

A few links below to sate your thirst for Beatrix Potter

Kirjasto: Beatrix Potter, biography

Literary Traveler
More than Just Bunnies: The Legacy of Beatrix Potter

The Horn Book Virtual History Exhibit
A letter from Beatrix Potter to Bertha Mahony Miller
letter is available for viewing

Peter Rabbit Co
a commerical site for Peter Rabbit

a webring of interrelated sites that gives local information regarding Beatrix Potter

Hill Top:The Home of Beatrix Potter
part of a webring that includes the area where Beatrix Potter lived
and also John Ruskin

Hawkshead Gallery

Kids Corner at Ohio University
several online books wonderfully made with Japanese translation?

University of Virgina Etext Center
hit your language on left column if you want to see the collections online
further down in center page is a link for the new ebook collection

look in the YA section or by A-Z index for Beatrix Potter
full text with pictures from originals. unfortunately site was defaced recently and pp12-17 of Tale of Peter Rabbit are missing, but the illus are back in the other volumes.
14 titles

Open Directory project Beatrix Potter,_Beatrix/

The Great Big treasury of Beatrix Potter
19 stories Fierce bad rabbit, squirrel nutkin

A Collection of Beatrix Potter Stories
14 stories Peter rabbit, two bad mice

The Great Big Treaury of Beatrix Potter
19 stories

Beatrix Potter


14 March Beatrix Potter:A Childhood Friend

10 August 2003 Harrison Cady


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