DISCOVER YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY
Once upon a time, there was a story about an engaging hero, an
exciting chase and a happy ending, written and exquisitely
illustrated by a gentle English countrywoman named Beatrix Potter.
My first memory of being read to was at age 4. Comfortably nestled
in my grandmother’s lap nightly, I was enthralled by her animated
reading of the tales of naughty Peter Rabbit, irrepressible Squirrel
Nutkin and self-important but endearing Jemima Puddle-Duck. My great
love of these stories, and others by Beatrix Potter, endures.
Exactly a century ago, in the fall of 1902, Beatrix Potter’s
career as a children’s storyteller and artist began when “The Tale of
Peter Rabbit” was published in a size just right for a child’s hands.
Six firms had rejected the story, but the public loved it as soon as
Beatrix Potter lived a quiet, sometimes lonely life, and as a girl
was encouraged by her parents to spend time outdoors drawing and
painting. The Potter family also had a menagerie, and the character
of Peter was taken from Beatrix’s real-life pet rabbit, “Bounce,”
whom she often dressed in little clothes and painted. Then, some
years later, in her late twenties, during a particularly solitary
time in her life, Potter started a correspondence with her childhood
governess’ son. “Dear Noel,” she wrote, “I don’t know what to write
to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits whose
names are Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter.” Thus, began her
little illustrated story.
Twenty-two little illustrated books about other woodland creatures
followed. Potter’s works have been translated into more than 30
languages, sell in the millions of copies each year, and are loved by
children throughout the world.
To honor Beatrix Potter’s enduring literary legacy, the library is
displaying her works, various biographies, a selection of her letters
and a cookbook she inspired.
* MARIANNA HOF is the Laguna Beach branch librarian.