NOVEMBER 2016 ;e Costco Connection 65
BY ALISON THOMPSON
children’s books have
delighted generations of
youngsters with the
antics and endeavors of
characters such as Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin
Bunny and Jemima
During her lifetime, Potter, who died in
1943, had 23 of her children’s stories published.
The thrilling news for her modern fans is that
a new, 24th tale has been published this year.
Known as The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, the
story was discovered quite by chance when
Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks
was doing background research for another
project in 2013.
Hanks, a specialist in children’s classic
titles, is well-acquainted with all the Beatrix
Potter tales. Her interest was piqued when she
came across a reference to “Kitty-in-Boots”
while browsing a book of collected writings,
collated by Potter collector Leslie Linder. It
was a character Hanks had never heard of
before, and it sparked a great adventure that
exposed the previously unpublished story.
“As I read, I realized that Leslie Linder had
found this manuscript in Potter’s belongings
after she passed away, and it was an entire tale
about a character that was completely new to
us, so it was really quite wonderful,” she tells
The Connection from her office in London. “It
was very exciting.”
Many of Potter’s personal papers are now
in the care of the Victoria and Albert Museum
nal handwritten manuscripts of The Tale of
“Potter had written it in little exercise
books that children used to take to school with
them. It was just so perfectly written,” she says.
Although penned in 1914, the story
seems to have slipped into obscurity during
Potter’s lifetime, and Hanks speculates that it
could simply have been overshadowed by
other events in the same year, including the
outbreak of World War I and the death of
With the V&A equally excited about the
idea, it was a golden and unmissable opportunity to publish another Potter classic, and
plans were put in motion to publish the story
in 2016, as part of the celebrations to mark the
150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.
“We thought it was a very fitting birthday
present for Potter,” Hanks points out.
The tale, which needed only very light
editing, according to Hanks, tells the story of
a naughty little cat with a double life who gets
into something of a scrape one night.
“The narrative—which takes place in Lake
District again—weaves in these wonderful
characters, drama and humor,” says Hanks.
Readers will be delighted to find that
some of Potter’s well-known characters—
such as Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and even
Peter Rabbit—make appearances.
Of course, the joy of Potter’s books lies
partly in the wonderful drawings she included,
but because this manuscript was not illustrated, the esteemed illustrator Quentin Blake
was approached to do the honors.
“We immediately thought of Quentin.
His style of artwork brings such energy to the
tale, and I think he understood Potter’s humor
and the mischievousness of the animals—he
really brings out their delightful characteristics,” Hanks explains.
Hanks is certain that Potter fans of all
ages will adore the new story. “Kitty is a
unique character, and I think if this tale had
come in to us today from a brand-new author
we would still be publishing it, because the
standard of Potter’s writing is incredible: She
was just so absolutely brilliant at describing
the world around us,” she says.
And now that this new story has come to
light, might there be others to look forward to?
“I really hope so!” laughs Hanks. “Potter
did write a lot, so who knows what the future
holds.” Indeed, who doesn’t want to enjoy
more of Potter’s tales? C
Alison Thompson ( alisonthompson.co.uk) is
a freelance writer and photographer from
Meet Miss Kitty
A new Beatrix Potter book
features a feline heroine
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots book with audio
is available in most Costco warehouses.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a short, narrated
excerpt from Kitty-in-Boots. (See page
10 for details.)