March 13, 1900 page 1

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Beatrix Potter

Autograph letter, London, to Marjorie Moore, March 13, 1900

March 13, 1900

Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959

MA 2009.12

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.


My dear Marjory,

You will begin to be afraid I have run away with the letters altogether! I will keep them a little longer because I want to make a list of them, but I don't think they will be made into a book this time because the publisher wants poetry. The publisher is a gentleman who prints books, and he wants