We like to celebrate Beatrix Potter every day here in the Rare Book Department, but today is her 151st birthday, so it's extra-special.
You probably remember Peter Rabbit and his better-behaved siblings Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail. They were "born" in 1893, in a get well letter that Beatrix Potter wrote to her former teacher's five-year-old son. He did get well, but it took nearly ten years before children everywhere got to enjoy the exploits of Peter Rabbit. After several publishers rejected the story, Beatrix Potter decided to publish it herself in 1901. She had 250 copies printed (we have two of them here!), then 200 more (we have another two of these as well), and then the publishing firm Frederick Warne & Co. changed their mind and decided they did want to publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit after all. Beatrix Potter shortened the text, added color illustrations, and in 1902 the Warne edition was published (we have four copies of this edition). More than a hundred years later, children are still reading about Peter losing his shoe in the cabbages and Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail getting bread, milk, and blackberries for supper.
The Rare Book Department isn't just a bunch of Beatrix Potter superfans, though. We sure have a lot of rare copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit but our collection also includes original art work, manuscripts, letters, photographs, figurines, board games, jigsaw puzzles... and hundreds of copies of all her published books. We have the largest collection of her work outside of England, and we always have some on public view. Come by sometime and take a look!