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Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters
Autograph letter, London, to Marjorie Moore, March 13, 1900
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enormous big room, quite round, with galleries round the sides, the walls covered with books, and hundreds of chairs and desks on the floor. There were not many people, but some of them were very funny to look at! And there are some people who live there always but Miss Potter didn't see them, although they are said to be the largest people of their sort in London! Next time Miss Potter goes to the British Museum she will take some Keating's powder. It is very odd that there should be fleas in books!

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.

Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Autograph letter, London, to Marjorie Moore, March 13, 1900
Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959; MA 2009.12



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