The Velveteen Rabbit

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The Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Rabbit pg 1.jpg
Front cover of the 1922 Heinemann edition
AuthorMargery Williams
IllustratorWilliam Nicholson
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherGeorge H. Doran Company
Publication date
TextThe Velveteen Rabbit at Wikisource

The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is a British children's book written by Margery Williams (also known as Margery Williams Bianco) and illustrated by William Nicholson. It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit's desire to become real through the love of his owner. The story was first published in Harper's Bazaar in 1921 featuring illustrations from Williams' daughter Pamela Bianco.[1][2] It was published as a book in 1922 and has been republished many times since.[3]

The Velveteen Rabbit was Williams' first children's book.[4] It has been awarded the IRA/CBC Children's Choice award.[5] Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association voted the book #28 on the "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[6]

Plot summary[edit]

A stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen is given as a Christmas present to a small boy. The boy plays with his other new presents and forgets the velveteen rabbit for a time. These presents are modern and mechanical, and they snub the old-fashioned velveteen rabbit. The wisest and oldest toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, which was owned by the boy's uncle, tells the rabbit about toys magically becoming real due to love from children: "Real isn't how you are made... It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real". [3] The rabbit is awed by this idea, but his chances of achieving this wish are slight.

One night, the boy's nanny gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of a lost toy. The rabbit becomes the boy's favorite toy, enjoying picnics with him in the spring, and the boy regards the rabbit as real. Time passes and the rabbit becomes shabbier but happy. It meets some real rabbits in the summer, and they learn that the velveteen rabbit cannot hop as they do, and they say that he is not a real rabbit.

One day, the boy comes down with scarlet fever, and the rabbit sits with him as he recovers. The doctor orders that the boy should be taken to the seaside and that his room should be disinfected — all his books and toys burnt, including the velveteen rabbit. The rabbit is bundled into a sack and left out in the garden overnight, where he reflects sadly on his life with his boy. The toy rabbit cries, a real tear drops onto the ground, and a marvelous flower appears. A fairy steps out of the flower and comforts the velveteen rabbit, introducing herself as the Nursery Magic Fairy. She says that, because he has become real to the boy who truly loves him, she will take him away with her and "turn [him] into Real" to everyone.

The fairy takes the rabbit to the forest, where she meets the other rabbits and kisses the velveteen rabbit. The velveteen rabbit changes into a real rabbit and joins the other rabbits in the forest. The next spring the rabbit returns to look at the boy, and the boy sees a resemblance to his old velveteen rabbit and enjoys seeing the rabbit out in the wild.


The following adaptations have been made of The Velveteen Rabbit:

  • In 1973, LSB Productions made the classic, original 16 mm film version (running time: 19 minutes). It won the Chris Plaque Award, the Silver Plaque Award, and the Golden Babe Award, and it appeared at the Columbus Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Chicagoland Film Festival. It was a finalist at the American Film Festival. This film has been on TV and has been acclaimed by parents and teachers worldwide.
  • The 1976 Rankin/Bass television special The First Easter Rabbit adapts the plot of the book as first of part of its story of how a toy bunny is recruited as the Easter Bunny.
  • In 1984, it was part of the Enchanted Musical Playhouse series, where Marie Osmond played the part of the Velveteen Rabbit. Songs were composed by the Sherman Brothers.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit was adapted into a video recording and soundtrack in 1985 by Rabbit Ears Productions with Random House Video. It is narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by George Winston.[7] It received a Parents' Choice Award for Multimedia and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
  • In 1985, two different animated adaptations were made at almost the same time:
  • In 1987, Don Bluth worked on an adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit, to have been released by New Line Cinema, but the project was never completed. Animation stills can be found online.
  • In 2003, it was adapted into a clay-animated film by Xyzoo Animation.
  • In 2007, a live-action short film adaptation was released by Horse Fly Studios. It was nominated for two Young Artist Awards.
  • Feature Films for Families, Family1 Films and Believe Pictures released their live-action/animated adaptation in 2009. It is distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, Thomas Nelson and Vision Films. The film adaptation was illegally telemarketed to over 500,000 telephone subscribers in the United States. Verizon successfully sued Feature Films For Families for the practice.[8]
  • In 2014, Cat & Hutch produced a storytelling adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit at Fulham Library for Hammersmith & Fulham ArtsFest. They then went on to perform this at various schools, libraries and other venues across London. In 2021, they adapted this version into an online storytelling over Zoom for various London libraries.
  • In October 2015, Atlantic Theater Company produced a new musical adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit at The Linda Gross Theater. This production was adapted by Anya Saffir (book and lyrics) and Cormac Bluestone (book, lyrics, music).[9]
  • In December 2018, Magic Light Pictures was reported to be adapting The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas special. It was to be the company's first live action/animated production.[10] Tom Bidwell was writing the scripts.
  • For many years ODC/Dance has performed in the San Francisco Bay Area a narrated contemporary dance adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit with fanciful costumes, typically during the holiday season.[11]
  • The independent film production company Storybook Studio began production of a new animated film adaptation of the book, written and directed by John Patrick. The film features narration by Gabi Smedra and stars child actor Peter F. Piccini as the Velveteen Rabbit, Maureen Russell as the Nursery Magic Fairy, Therese Kincadeand as Nana and Paul Fowles as the Skin Horse.[12] The film was slated to be released during the year 2022, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the original book's publication.[13] But because of production complications, the release was pushed back to Easter of 2023. [14]


  1. ^ Williams, Margery (June 1921). "The Velveteen Rabbit; or, How Toys Become Real". Harper's Bazar. New York. pp. 72–73, 108, 110. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  2. ^ Andrea Long Chu (8 November 2022). "The Velveteen Rabbit Was Always More Than a Children's Book". Close Reads. Vulture. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  3. ^ a b Blair, Elizabeth (12 April 2022). "As 'The Velveteen Rabbit' turns 100, its message continues to resonate". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Margery Williams - The Velveteen Rabbit at Embracing the Child". Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  5. ^ Williams, Margery. "The Velveteen Rabbit, By Margery Williams, Illustrated by William Nicholson: HarperCollins Children's Books". Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  6. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. p. 341. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  8. ^ Barrett, Rick (27 February 2009). "Telemarketer sued for cell-phone calls". JSOnline. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  9. ^ "Atlantic for Kids presents The Velveteen Rabbit: A New Musical". Atlantic Theater Company.
  10. ^ Zahed, Ramin (13 December 2018). "Magic Light Pictures Hops to 'Velveteen Rabbit' Hybrid Adaptation". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  11. ^ "ODC The Velveteen Rabbit". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  12. ^ Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The Velveteen Rabbit - SNEAK PREVIEW - Audio - The Skin Horse Tells His Story". YouTube.
  13. ^[user-generated source]
  14. ^

External links[edit]