Beatrix Potter created a gem when she wrote the story of Peter Rabbit, capturing the hearts and minds of children and adults all over the world. Translated into 36 languages, this beautiful story of love, creativity and bravery teaches little ones across the world that they should never give up on their dreams. Despite being around for over a century now, do we really know everything there is to know about this British bunny? We've searched far and wide to bring you ten of the most wonderfully unusual facts about Peter Rabbit that will no doubt make you love this character even more.
1.Peter Rabbit was real!
Beloved author Beatrix Potter once owned a rabbit named Peter Piper, and they did everything together! The “real” Peter Rabbit was a loving creature who enjoyed playing side by side with Beatrix in the grass. Rumour has it Peter had a few tricks up his little blue sleeve, including jumping through hoops, playing the tambourine and ringing bells. No wonder Peter is the world's most beloved rabbit!
2.The Tale of Peter Rabbit was meant to be a "get well soon" card!
In 1893 Potter first wrote the story of Peter Rabbit in a "get well soon card'" to Noel More, a son's friend who was ill. This letter began: "I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose names were—Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." What followed was the beautiful story of Peter Rabbit, including her first illustrations, which were later included in the published book.
3. This adorable rabbit was the first character to ever be merchandised
In 1903 when Potter began to notice the extent of Peter's popularity, she decided to design and sew a doll version of this sweet blue-jacketed bunny. Potter told her friend at the time of her excitement about her creation, “'I am cutting out calico patterns of Peter, I have not got it right yet, but the expression is going to be lovely; especially the whiskers!”.
4. And the first character to ever be licensed
Potter then patented her Peter Rabbit doll, making our adorable fluffy friend the first licensed character! This was then followed by a series of hundreds of tea sets, games, wallpapers, figurines, clothing and blankets. Her merchandising helped make this character into the icon he is today as well as turning The World of Beatrix Potter™ into one of the greatest literature-based patenting organisations in the world at the time.
5. Peter Rabbit is adored in Japan!
This beloved British rabbit is so famous in Japan people are flying to the Lake District to buy exclusive Peter Rabbit merchandise! The stories of Peter Rabbit are so deeply loved among the Japanese they have created a replica of Beatrix Potter's house and even a Peter Rabbit theme park. It is reported that over 80% of the population has heard of this loveable character.
6. Walt Disney wanted to make Peter Rabbit a Disney character
Around the time Snow White was being made, Walt Disney wrote to Potter and asked if he could make an animated version of her Peter Rabbit, which she refused. No one knows precisely why, although there has been much speculation. Some believe it was because she wanted to remain in control over her works, while others suggest that she didn’t think her animated drawings were good enough for large-scale animation and that if they were enlarged, their imperfections would be illuminated.
7. Yet this tale was originally rejected by 6 different publishers!
Despite having sold over 151 million copies today, this beloved story was previously rejected by six different publishers. When Potter decided to publish the stories herself, look what happened! Beatrix’s story of self-belief, imagination and determination is an excellent example to your little readers to never give up on their dreams no matter how big or different.
8. Peter's favourite food is radish!
Did you know that Peter Rabbit is actually munching on a piece of radish, not a carrot, in Potter's famous illustrations!
9. Peter lives on in plenty more stories
Peter's story does not finish in Mr McGregor's garden. He can be found in many other novels including The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Mr Tod, The Tale of Ginger and Pickles and The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle! Potter has a deep love for animals and nature, and all of her beautiful characters were based on her own: Mrs Tiggy-Winkle was a hedgehog, and Benjamin was another real rabbit! These animals often travelled with the author on her beloved trips to the seaside.
10. A symbol of love, loss and endurance...Just keep hopping!
When this novel was published, Potter worked very closely with editor Norman Warne. The two developed a relationship and in 1905 got married, despite her parent's objection. However, a month later, her new husband became sick and died of a rare blood disease. After this heartbreak, Potter managed to find love again in a man called Willam Heelis in 1913. Throughout all her love, loss, heartbreak (and more love), Peter Rabbit was Potter's rock, and allowed her to keep reaching for her dreams.
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