WRITTEN FOR ONE OF POTTER’S NIECES, ‘WHO HAD TOLD AUNT BEATRIX

THAT PETER WAS MUCH TOO GOOD A RABBIT, AND SHE WANTED A STORY ABOUT A REALLY NAUGHTY ONE’


POTTER, (Helen) Beatrix. The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit. London and New York: Frederick Warne and Co., c.1916.

Quarto (123 x 105mm), pp. 54. Title-vignette, colour-printed half-tone frontispiece, and 14 colour-printed half-tone plates, all after Potter, the frontispiece and plates included in the pagination. (Some light marks or spots, frontispiece detached but present.) Original tan paper-covered boards, upper board with central applied illustration after Potter, upper board and spine lettered in brown, endpapers illustrated with designs after Potter [Quinby XII and XIII]. (Lightly marked, extremities slightly rubbed and bumped, spine-ends chipped, applied illustration with small losses.) A very good copy in the original binding. Provenance: ‘Barbara’ (neat pencilled name on upper pastedown).


First or early edition in the book-form binding. The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit was written in 1906 for Louie Warne (the daughter of Harold Warne and niece of Potter’s fiancé Norman Warne), ‘who had told Aunt Beatrix that Peter was much too good a rabbit, and she wanted a story about a really naughty one’ (L. Linder, A History of the Writings of Beatrix Potter (London, 1971), p.183). It was the first of a series of three stories written in the early months of 1906 for very young children – the other two were The Story of Miss Moppet and The Sly Old Cat – and each manuscript was composed of ‘fourteen pictures and fourteen pages of simple text. The pictures and text were arranged in pairs and were in panoramic form, mounted on a long strip of linen, and folded concertina-wise into a wallet with a tuck-in flap’ (loc. cit.).

The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit and The Story of Miss Moppet were both published in November 1906 in a format which followed that of the original manuscripts – long, folded strips within wallet-style bindings – and The Sly Old Cat would have probably followed, had it not been for the problems which the format created for the booksellers retailing the books, which Potter herself recorded: ‘Bad Rabbit and Moppet were originally printed on long strips – The shops sensibly refused to stock them because they got unrolled and [were] so bad to fold up again’ (loc. cit.). In 1916 Warne reissued the two titles book in a more practical form (as found here), in a similar but fractionally smaller format than the other titles in the series, and this copy dates from c. 1916 (later editions enclosed the publisher’s name on the upper board in a single-ruled frame and used different endpapers).

Quinby 12A; cf. Linder p. 426.

£150

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