Peter Rabbit

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For the character by Thornton Burgess, see Peter Cottontail.
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit (TV series)
Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie
character
TaleofPeterRabbit8.jpg
"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes."
First appearance The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Last appearance The Tale of Mr. Tod
Created by Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit is a fictional anthropomorphic character in various children's stories by Beatrix Potter. He first appeared in The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902 and subsequently in five more books between 1904 and 1912. Spinoff merchandise includes dishes, wallpaper, and dolls. He appears as a character in a number of adaptations.

Background[edit]

The rabbits in Potter's stories are anthropomorphic and wear human clothes: Peter wears a jacket and shoes. Peter, his mother, Mrs. Josephine Rabbit, as well as his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail live in a rabbit hole that has a human kitchen, human furniture, as well as a shop where Mrs. Rabbit sells various items. Peter's relatives are Cousin Benjamin Bunny and Benjamin's father Mr. Benjamin Bunny.

Peter Rabbit was named after a pet rabbit Beatrix Potter had as a child called Peter Piper. The first Peter Rabbit story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was originally created in 1893 as a letter to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of Potter's former governess, Annie Moore. The boy was ill and Potter wrote him a picture and story letter to help him pass the time and to cheer him up. The letter included sketches illustrating the narrative.

In June 1902, a trade edition of the tale was published by Frederick Warne & Co, and by the end of the year, 28,000 copies were in print. Over the years, The Tale of Peter Rabbit has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and as of 2008, the Peter Rabbit series has sold more than 151 million copies in 35 languages.[1][2]

Books[edit]

Grown up Peter in his nursery garden, from The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies

Peter Rabbit made his first appearance in 1902 in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Peter disobeys his mother's orders and sneaks into Mr. McGregor's garden, eating as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him about. Peter manages to escape, but not before losing his jacket and shoes, which Mr. McGregor uses to dress a scarecrow. Peter returns home weary and ill and is put to bed with a dose of chamomile tea.

In The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, first published in 1904, Peter's cousin Benjamin Bunny brings him back to Mr. McGregor's garden and they retrieve the clothes Peter lost in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. But after they gather onions to give to Peter's mother, they are captured by Mr. McGregor's cat. Benjamin's father arrives and rescues them, but also reprimands Peter and Benjamin for going into the garden by whipping them with a switch. In this tale, Peter displays some trepidation about returning to the garden.

In The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies, first published in 1909, Peter has a small role and appears only briefly. He is grown up and his sister Flopsy is now married to his cousin Benjamin Bunny. The two are the parents of six little Flopsy Bunnies. Peter and his mother keep a nursery garden[3] and the bunnies come by asking him for spare cabbage.

In The Tale of Mr. Tod, first published in 1912, Benjamin and Flopsy's children are kidnapped by notorious badger Tommy Brock. Peter helps Benjamin chase after Brock, who hides out in the house of the fox Mr. Tod. Mr. Tod finds Brock sleeping in his bed and as the two get into a scuffle, Peter and Benjamin rescue the children.

Peter makes cameo appearances in two other tales. In The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, first published in 1905, Peter and Benjamin are customers of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, a hedgehog washerwoman. The two rabbits are depicted in one illustration peeping from the forest foliage. In The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, first published in 1909, Peter and other characters from Potter's previous stories make cameo appearances in the artwork patronising the shop of Ginger and Pickles.

To mark the 110th anniversary of the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Frederick Warne & Co. commissioned British actress Emma Thompson to write The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, in which Peter ends up in Scotland after accidentally hitching a ride on Mr. and Mrs. McGregor's wagon. The book was released on 18 September 2012.[4] However, unlike The Tale of Mr. Tod and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, Peter is depicted as a child rather than an adult, making it an interquel between The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies.

On 27 September 2012, it was announced that Emma Thompson would write two more Peter Rabbit books, with the first released in Christmas 2013 and the second sometime in 2014.

Merchandising[edit]

Potter created a soft doll depicting Peter Rabbit and a Peter Rabbit board game shortly after the tale's first publication. The character has been depicted in a multitude of spinoff merchandise such as porcelain figurines and dishes. Peter Rabbit had also appeared on the packaging of the infant formula Enfamil.

Peter Rabbit was the first soft toy to be patented, in 1903, making Peter the oldest licensed character.[5] Frederick Warne & Co owns the trademark rights of the Beatrix Potter characters.[6] However, most of the stories are in the US public domain, as they were published before 1923.

The Peter Rabbit (rather than other Beatrix Potter characters) stories and merchandise are very popular in Japan: many Japanese visit the Lake District after becoming familiar with Potter's work at an early age at school. There is an accurate replica of Potter's house and a theme park in Japan, and a series of Mr McGregor's gardens in one of the largest banks. Merchandisers in Japan estimate that 80% of the population have heard of Peter Rabbit.[7]

Adaptations[edit]

Peter Rabbit appears in the 1971 ballet film, The Tales of Beatrix Potter. He also was featured in HBO's 1991 Storybook Musical adaptation of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, narrated by Carol Burnett. Several of the stories featuring Peter Rabbit were also animated for the 1992 BBC anthology series, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. More recently, Peter stars in the new CGI-animated children's TV series Peter Rabbit, which premiered on Nickelodeon and CBeebies in December 2012.[8]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ "United Media Licensing – PETER RABBIT". United Media Licensing. Archived from the original on 24 March 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2006. 
  2. ^ "Beatrix Potter goes green". CCTV International. 13 June 2008. 
  3. ^ In the original frontispiece, a sign at the garden read, "Peter Rabbit & Mother-Florists-Gardens neatly razed. Borders devastated by the night or year." (MacDonald 40)
  4. ^ http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/16/emma-thompson-to-give-peter-rabbit-a-new-tale/
  5. ^ "Beatrix Potter's Life". Peter Rabbit. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Frederick Warne applauds the Beijing Xicheng District Administration of Industry and Commerce's commitment to the protection of international intellectual property rights". Prnewswire.co.uk. 30 August 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Williams, Francesca (13 November 2013). "Peter Rabbit: Why the Japanese love Beatrix Potter, Francesca Williams, BBC News, 13 November 2013". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Nickelodeon Premieres Peter Rabbit with Holiday Special". People Magazine. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
Works cited
  • MacDonald, Ruth K. (1986). Beatrix Potter. Twayne's English Author Series. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-6917-X.