Long-forgotten Beatrix Potter cat story to hit bookstores

Beatrix potter's animal characters and her UK home, Hilltop Farm.

TO MARK the 150th anniversary of British children’s author Beatrix Potter’s birth, one of the writer’s unpublished stories, called Kitty-in-Boots will be published by Frederick Warne & Co, the late author’s original publisher.  

Reports from January 26 confirm that UK artist Quentin Blake has been chosen to illustrate the manuscript, which was found in the archives of the Victoria & Albert museum along with only one sketch of the feline character. 

The tale is said to feature cameos by old favourites such as an aging Peter Rabbit, Mr Tod the fox, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle the hedgehog and cats Tabitha and Ribby Twitchit, who appear in five of Ms Potter’s other books.    

The publisher behind its rediscovery, Jo Hanks of Penguin Random House, came across a reference to Ms Potter’s unpublished story in an out-of-print 1970’s literary history on the revered children’s author, which detailed a letter sent from Ms Potter to her publisher about her new story. 

 The letter was sent in 1914, along with the manuscript draft, with Ms Potter describing the tale as being about “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads a rather double life.” Other letters in the archive contain references to the work, which Potter claimed she was preventing from finishing because “interruptions began,” namely, World War I, a period of illness and her marriage to local solicitor William Heelis. 

Author Roald Dahl’s long-term collaborator, Quentin Blake, has expressed his joy at being chosen for the task of illustrating the new book, saying that he had “a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me,” while Potter-aficionado Ms Hanks declared the artist to have the “energy, rebelliousness and humour” for the job, “in keeping with Beatrix’s own artistic sensibilities.”

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