Little Books


Beatrix Potter (1866–1943)
Illustrated letter to Marjorie Moore, March 13, 1900
The Morgan Library & Museum, Gift of Colonel David McC. McKell, 1959, MA 2009.12


In this picture letter written to Noel Moore’s sister, Marjorie, Beatrix details her disagreements with publishers about the format of her books. She was uncompromising in her vision for small, affordable volumes, now a hallmark characteristic of her literary work for children:

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 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 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!