Sunday, February 7, 2016

Beatrix Potter’s ‘Tale Of Kitty-In-Boots’: 100 Years Later

Children’s Books

Kitty-in-Boots: Beatrix Potter’s original illustration. Rebecca Mead writes for The New Yorker about this feline in boots: “It may have taken a century for Kitty-in-Boots to surface, but there can be no better time than today, the age of ‘Transparent,’ for a gender-binary-defying cat to materialize.”
Illustration Credit: Frederick Warne Co; The Victoria and Albert Museum
SourceThe New Yorker

An article, by Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker looks at the recovery and upcoming publication of a Beatrix Potter story, “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots,” about a well-behaved black kitty cat who leads a double life. It was written and then abandoned a century ago.

In “The Bittersweet Announcement of a New Beatrix Potter Book” (February 1, 2016), Mead writes:
Last week, Penguin Random House announced that it will publish another “lost” Potter work about a cat: “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots,” which she had begun and abandoned two years earlier, in 1914. Several manuscripts of the story were discovered in 2013 in the Potter archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum by Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House; the book is being published this fall to coincide with the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Potter’s birth.
According to Penguin Random House, Potter’s intention to publish the story is evident: the archive included a version that had been set in type, suggesting that its publication was once quite far along. In a letter to her publisher, Harold Warne, Potter characterized the principal character as “a well-behaved black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life, and goes out hunting with a little gun on moonlight nights, dressed up like puss in boots.”
Linda Lear, Potter’s biographer, writes that Warne was lukewarm about the proposal, however, and suggests that this lack of enthusiasm led to Potter’s abandonment of the book after she had completed only some sketches and had begun just one color illustration. This image, the projected frontispiece, shows a black, green-eyed cat wearing a hunting jacket, britches, and boots. In one paw, she is grasping a limp, indeterminate trophy—a pheasant, perhaps—while supporting a rifle with the other.
We have a few Beatrix Potter books in our children’s library, and they are as delightful for adults to read, as they are, I am sure, for children. The book will be released for public consumption on September 1, 2016. It will have new illustrations by Quentin Blake. Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 and died on December 22, 1943. She was 77. Besides being a well-known British writer of children’s books, Potter was a natural scientist and conservationist; she was ahead of her time as a woman of science.

But it is as a writer that she is best known. Writers draw inspiration and obtain ideas for stories from what they know, and in the case of writers of children’s books, it is often that they return to the imaginings of their young minds, when ideas are inchoate and are not yet fully developed or firm. In Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (2006), Linda Lear writes: “Childhood forays into the countryside nurtured her imagination and inspired her art. Soon her London school room was home to an eclectic menagerie of insects, butterflies, and small animals, especially mice and rabbits all of which she drew with endless fascination.”

For more, go to [NewYorker]

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