March 13, 1900, page 2–3

Beatrix Potter
(1866–1943)

Autograph letter, London, to Marjorie Moore

March 13, 1900

Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959

MA 2009.12
Item description: 

Around 1900 Potter began to explore the possibility of making commercial publications out of the stories she had written in her picture letters. She borrowed them back from the children and decided to start with Peter Rabbit. Eight pages long, each episode accompanied with an illustration, that letter most obviously had the makings of a book. (The original is now on deposit at the Victoria & Albert Museum.) The publication process was frustrating and arduous, partly because publishers did not understand what she was trying to achieve and partly because she disagreed with them about publishing techniques. Here she confided to a younger sister of Noel Moore that negotiations were not going well and that she might have to try again with another firm. One of the sticking points was the price and size of the book, the publisher arguing for a larger and more expensive product, the author demanding something smaller and cheaper, a booklet "little rabbits" could afford. Eventually she got her way and succeeded in setting modest prices for a book in a smaller format, an endearing feature of the Peter Rabbit series to this day.

Transcription: 

a bigger book than he has got enough money to pay for! and Miss Potter has arguments with him. He was taken ill on Sunday and his sisters and his cousins and his aunts had arguments; I wonder if that book will ever be printed! I think Miss Potter will go off to another publisher soon! She would rather make 2 or 3 little books costing 1/ each, than one big book costing 6/ because she thinks little rabbits cannot afford to spend 6 shillings on one book, and would never buy it.

I went to the Reading Room at the British Museum this morning to see a delightful old book full of rhymes. I shall draw pictures of some of them whether they are printed or not. The Reading Room is an