Peter Rabbit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Rabbit
"First, he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then, he ate some radishes."
First appearanceThe Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)
Created byBeatrix Potter
Voiced byRory Carty (1992–1994)
Mark Lockyer (1995)
Cam Clarke (1995)
Connor Fitzgerald (2012–2014)
Harry Henty (2014–2016)
James Corden (2018–present)
Sienna Adams (2019)
In-universe information
SpeciesEuropean rabbit
FamilyMr. Rabbit (father, deceased)
Mrs. Rabbit (mother)
Benjamin Bunny (cousin/brother in-law)
Flopsy Rabbit/Flopsy Bunny (sister/cousin-in-law)
Mopsy and Cotton-tail (sisters)
RelativesBouncer (uncle)
Benjamin and Flopsy's children (nephews and nieces/cousins-once removed)
unnamed brother-in-law by Cotton-tail

Peter Rabbit is a fictional animal character in various children's stories by English author Beatrix Potter.[1] A mischievous, adventurous young rabbit who wears a blue jacket, he first appeared in The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902, and subsequently in five more books between 1904 and 1912. The six books by Potter featuring Peter Rabbit have sold over 150 million copies.[2] Spin-off merchandise includes dishes, wallpaper, painting books, board games and dolls. In 1903, Peter Rabbit was the first fictional character to be made into a patented stuffed toy, making him the oldest licensed character.[3][4]

Peter Rabbit appears as a character in several adaptations, including the television series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends (1992–1998) and Peter Rabbit (2012–2016), and the live-action/animated films Peter Rabbit (2018) and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021).


The rabbits in Potter's stories are anthropomorphic and wear human clothes: Peter wears a blue jacket with brass buttons and shoes. Peter, his widowed mother, Mrs. Rabbit, as well as his younger sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail (with Peter the eldest of the four little rabbits) 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 his cousin Benjamin Bunny and Benjamin's father, Mr. Benjamin Bouncer.

Peter Rabbit was named after a pet rabbit whom Beatrix Potter had as a child, and whom she called Peter Piper.[5] The first Peter Rabbit story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was created in 1893 initially as a letter to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of Potter's former governess, Annie Moore.[5] 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.[5]

In June 1903, 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 of six books has sold more than 150 million copies in 35 languages.[2][6]


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 where Peter disobeys his mother's orders and sneaks into Mr. McGregor's garden (where his father had once had "an accident" involving his being put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor). He eats as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor spots and chases him. Peter manages to escape, but not before losing his jacket and shoes, which Mr. McGregor uses to dress a scarecrow. Peter returns home weary, ill, and naked 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. However, after they gather onions to give to Peter's mother, they are captured by Mr. McGregor's cat. Bouncer arrives and rescues them, but also punishes 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 their cousin Benjamin. The two are the parents of six little Flopsy Bunnies. Peter and his mother keep a nursery garden,[a] 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 September 18, 2012.[7] In autumn 2012, it was reported that Thompson would write more Peter Rabbit books.[8] Her next tale, The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit, was released in 2013, followed by The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit in 2014.[9][10]

On 27 May 2021, a reboot of Peter Rabbit was released, entitled Peter Rabbit Head Over Tail, written by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Nicola Kinnear, followed by Peter Rabbit Hide and Seek in 2022.[11]


Potter created a soft doll depicting Peter Rabbit and a Peter Rabbit board game shortly after the tale's first publication.[3][12] The character has been depicted in a multitude of spinoff merchandise such as porcelain figurines, painting books and dishes.[3]

Peter Rabbit was the first soft toy to be patented, in 1903, making Peter the oldest licensed character.[3][4][13] The following year they went on sale and were mass produced by Steiff.[14] Harrods department store in London has been selling it since at least 1910, when toys of Potter characters first appeared in their catalogues.[15] The British publisher Frederick Warne & Co owns the trademark rights of the Beatrix Potter characters.[16]

The Peter Rabbit (rather than other Beatrix Potter characters) stories and merchandise are very popular in Japan: many Japanese tourists 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.[17]


Peter Rabbit statue at Lingholm country house in the English Lake District

A statue of Peter Rabbit is located on the grounds of Lingholm country house just outside the village of Portinscale in the Lake District, north west England, where Potter spent her summer holidays (between 1885 and 1907) and where she drew inspiration for her Peter Rabbit books.[18] She credited the Lingholm kitchen garden as her original inspiration for Mr. McGregor's garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.[19] Lingholm was listed Grade II on the National Heritage List for England in 2013.[20][21]

In 2016, Peter Rabbit and other Potter characters featured on a series of UK postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth.[22] The same year, Peter Rabbit and other Potter characters appeared on a small number of collectors' 50p British coins.[23]


In 1936, Walt Disney expressed interest in making a Peter Rabbit film. He proposed his idea of a feature-length film to Beatrix Potter, but she refused and did not give him the rights.[24]

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 and two edutainment titles published by Mindscape The Adventures of Peter Rabbit & Benjamin Bunny in 1995[25] and Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit's Math Garden in 1996.[26] A CGI-animated children's TV series Peter Rabbit premiered on Nickelodeon and CBeebies in December 2012, with Colin DePaula voicing Peter in its first season (American version) and L. Parker Lucas taking over the role for the second season, respectively.[27]

An animated/live-action adaptation, Peter Rabbit produced by Sony Pictures Animation, was released on 8 February 2018.[28][29] James Corden voices Peter Rabbit with Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne starring in the live-action role of the lead female named Bea (based on Potter herself).[30] Other cast members include Margot Robbie,[31] Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki.[30] Will Gluck directed and produced the film, and Zareh Nalbandian also produced, while Lauren Abrahams oversaw the project for Sony Pictures Animation.[30] A sequel Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021) reunited most of the cast of the previous film.[32]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ In the original frontispiece, a sign at the garden read, "Peter Rabbit & Mother-Florists-Gardens neatly razed. Borders devastated by the night or year."[1]: 40 


  1. ^ a b MacDonald, Ruth K. (1986). Beatrix Potter. Twayne's English Author Series. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-6917-X.
  2. ^ a b "Peter Rabbit in China copyright stew". BBC News. 23 June 2003. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Wagner, Erica (23 December 2009). "Peter Rabbit blazed a trail still well trod". The Times.
  4. ^ a b "How Beatrix Potter Invented Character Merchandising". Smithsonian. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Peter Rabbit: the tale of 'The Tale'". V&A. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  6. ^ "Peter Rabbit". United Media Licensing. Archived from the original on 24 March 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2006.
  7. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (16 September 2011). "Emma Thompson to Give Peter Rabbit a New 'Tale'". ArtsBeat blog. The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Emma Thompson Revives Anarchist 'Peter Rabbit'". Morning Edition. NPR. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  9. ^ "The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit". Waterstones. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  10. ^ "An Evening With Emma Thompson and Peter Rabbit". Vulture. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Peter Rabbit: Head Over Tail : inspired by Beatrix Potter's iconic character". Telegraph. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  12. ^ "The Game of Peter Rabbit". V&A. Retrieved 30 October 2022. On 7th December 1904 she submitted her idea for a board game 'The Game of Peter Rabbit' to her publishers, Frederick Warne and Co, who brought out their own version in 1919
  13. ^ "Beatrix Potter's Life". Peter Rabbit. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Steiff Peter Rabbit 1904 Replica". Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  15. ^ Jones, Sarah (13 March 2018). "Peter Rabbit hops into Harrods in film affiliation". Luxury Daily. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  16. ^ "Frederick Warne applauds the Beijing Xicheng District Administration of Industry and Commerce's commitment to the protection of international intellectual property rights". PR Newswire UK (Press release). London: Frederick Warne & Co. 30 August 2003. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  17. ^ Williams, Francesca (13 November 2013). "Peter Rabbit: Why the Japanese love Beatrix Potter, Francesca Williams". BBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  18. ^ "The Lingholm Estate". The Lingholm Estate. Archived from the original on 14 February 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  19. ^ "Lake District estate that inspired Beatrix Potter is the perfect half term activity for families". Lancs Live. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  20. ^ "Lingholm given grade II historic listing by English Heritage". The Lingholm Estate. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013.
  21. ^ Historic England, "Lingholm (1413920)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 10 May 2023
  22. ^ "Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbitt and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle on anniversary stamps". BBC News. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  23. ^ "Royal Mint: Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit on new 50p coin". BBC News. 29 February 2016. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 30 August 2017. Four coins will be made featuring different characters from her stories, and a special collector's 50p coin showing a colour image of Peter Rabbit will also be released.
  24. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (22 April 2002). "Peter Rabbit Turns 100". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 11 May 2023.
  25. ^ "The Adventures of Peter Rabbit & Benjamin Bunny video game". The Strong. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit's Math Garden video game". The Strong. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Nickelodeon Premieres Peter Rabbit with Holiday Special". People Magazine. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  28. ^ Perry, Spencer (22 December 2015). "Sony sets release dates for The Emoji Movie and Animated Spider-Man". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  29. ^ Collinson, Gary (18 October 2015). "Sony working on a live-action/animation hybrid Peter Rabbit movie". Flickering Myth. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  30. ^ a b c Doty, Meriah (26 September 2016). "Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki Join 'Peter Rabbit' Live-Action/Animated Hybrid". Variety. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  31. ^ Kroll, Justin (24 October 2016). "Margot Robbie Joins 'Peter Rabbit' Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  32. ^ Kroll, Justin (22 February 2019). "David Oyelowo Joins the Cast of Sony's 'Peter Rabbit' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 21 September 2020.

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