New Beatrix Potter story to be published after 100 years

potter-blake.pngLeft: Beloved children's book author Beatrix Potter left behind an unpublished story about a black cat who leads a double life. (Express Newspapers/Getty Images). Right: Illustrator Quentin Blake is best known for his work with Roald Dahl. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images).

After 100 years, a new Beatrix Potter story will be published in September. "The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots" was discovered by Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House's Children's division. The tale will feature new illustrations by beloved illustrator Quentin Blake, known for his work with author Roald Dahl.

Hanks found a reference to the story in an out-of-print Potter biography from the 1970s. The manuscript of "The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots" was subsequently unearthed from the archive of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which holds the world's largest collection of Beatrix Potter artifacts. The story was written by hand, and partly laid out, in a school notebook - with only two rough sketches of Kitty-in-Boots and the story's villain, Mr. Tod.

Potter sent the story to her publisher in 1914, with a letter describing "The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots" as that of "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life." An "older, slower" Peter Rabbit also appears in the story. In her letters, also in the Victoria and Albert Museum archive, Potter wrote that she had wanted to complete the story but "interruptions began." (Potter was married in October 1913 and commenced a country life, managing multiple farms; her father died in 1914 and the First World War broke out in the same year.)

Hanks described the newly discovered story as "the best of Beatrix Potter" to the BBC, with "double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales."

kitty-in-boots.pngAn illustration by Quentin Blake for the new story.

Quentin Blake, whose illustrations appear in Roald Dahl's best-loved books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG, commented, "It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript... and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it. I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me."

The year 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth.


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