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Creator / Beatrix Potter

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"There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you."

Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was a British author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist, mainly known for her short picture books starring various anthropomorphic animals and illustrated with detailed, realistic watercolors. Most of her studies are essentially Morality Tales, where young animals are naughty and receive comeuppance. Her animal stories are:

Some of her manuscripts were published posthumously, including The Tale of the Faithful Dove (1970), The Tale of the Sly Old Cat (1971), and The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (2016).

A highly romanticized biopic of her life, Miss Potter, was released in 2006. Her characters received a Live-Action Adaptation with Peter Rabbit, mostly starring Peter Rabbit and his siblings.

The stories of Beatrix Potter contain examples of:

  • Alien Catnip: Rabbit-tobacco is lavender.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Averted. Animals in Beatrix Potter stories generally behaved more like an animal of that species would actually behave rather than following more common fictional stereotypes.
  • Animated Adaptation: The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, a British anthology series that featured both animated scenes adapting the stories and live-action scenes with Beatrix Potter (played by Niamh Cusack) that served as a Framing Device. Nine episodes in length, the episodes usually blended together two stories, though a few were given stand-alone episodes. It was broadcast on The BBC in the UK and on The Family Channel (before it became ABC Family) in the US.
    • Peter Rabbit, on the other hand, has had around five animated adaptations. The earliest is the Merri Melodies's 1935 cartoon "The Country Boy". Two were created in 1991, first HBO Family's animated musical adaptation as part of a series "Storybook Musicals," and another released the same year called The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. Golden Films also released an animated movie in 1995 called The New Adventures Of Peter Rabbit where Peter is a little bit older, along with his three sisters. The most recent is the 2012 Nickelodeon series Peter Rabbit.
  • Arcadia: Bordering on Ghibli Hills, depending on whether the animals count as people.
  • Author Appeal: Try to find a Beatrix Potter work without at least a few mushrooms in the artwork. (See She Also Did entry below)
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Many of her books feature adorable bunnies designed to appeal to small children.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Squirrel Nutkin, with an owl.
  • The Cameo: Peter Rabbit makes a brief cameo in The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle along with Benjamin Bunny.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Her books are populated with talking woodland animals of many species ranging from rabbits and squirrels (herbivores), to mice and rats and robins and ducks (omnivores), to cats and owls and foxes (carnivores). Plenty of conflict stems from the intelligent animals acting on their instincts to prey on one another:
    • "The Pie and the Patty-Pan": the cat Ribby and dog Duchess have very different ideas about what constitutes a delicious meat pie. Ribby bakes one of minced mouse and bacon, while Duchess tries to substitute it for one made of veal and ham.
    • "The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin": squirrels bring Old Brown the owl presents of various other animals to eat. This includes mice, a mole, beetles, fish, and eventually the egg of another bird. No mention is made of the intelligence of these other creatures before they're offered up as snacks for Old Brown.
    • "The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or, The Roly-Poly Pudding": part of the humor here arises from the rats Anna Maria and Samuel Whiskers deciding to eat Tom Kitten, a young cat who wanders into their hideaway within the walls of Tabitha Twitchit's home. When Tom is rescued by John the Joiner (a rat terrier), John spends quite a lot of time "sniffing and whining, and wagging his tail, and going round and round with his head in the [rat] hole..."
    • "The Tale of Ginger and Pickles": Ginger the cat and Pickles the dog run a small village shop frequented by many species of customers. They have a bit of difficulty serving prey animals while wanting to eat them:
      Ginger and Pickles were the people who kept the shop. Ginger was a yellow tom-cat, and Pickles was a terrier.
      The rabbits were always a little bit afraid of Pickles.
      The shop was also patronized by mice—only the mice were rather afraid of Ginger.
      Ginger usually requested Pickles to serve them, because he said it made his mouth water.
      "I cannot bear," said he, "to see them going out at the door carrying their little parcels."
      "I have the same feeling about rats," replied Pickles, "but it would never do to eat our own customers; they would leave us and go to Tabitha Twitchit's."
    • "The Tailor of Gloucester": Simpkin the cat would very much like to eat the mice that live behind the wainscotting of the tailor's home and shop — these are the same mice that can speak and stitch clothing for the tailor when he takes ill.
    • "The Tale of Mr. Tod": Benjamin Bouncer (father to Benjamin Bunny) maintains a friendship with the badger Tommy Brock despite the fact that badgers are known to eat rabbits. When invited into the bunny household for a drink and a smoke, Tommy Brock kidnaps Bouncer's young grandchildren and intends to eat them for breakfast the next day.
  • Cats Are Mean: Sometimes averted, but often played straight, since many of the protagonists are small animals.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Benjamin Bunny, Benjamin and Peter wrap a bundle of onions in a handkerchief for Peter's mother. In Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is trying to launder that handkerchief and complains she can't get the onion smell out of it. The handkerchief looks the same (red with white polka-dots and white trim) in both books, too.
    • The characters of pussy-cat Ribby and her cousin Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit appear in several stories. Mention of Mrs. Twitchit's village store are made in "The Pie and the Patty-Pan" (where Duchess and Ribby purchased identical pink-and-white pie dishes) and "The Tale of Ginger and Pickles" (where Mrs. Twitchit raises her prices once Ginger and Pickles' store goes out of business).
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Or at least endangered.
  • Cute Kitten: The kittens seen in the story Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers.
  • Designated Victim: The whole of the Rabbit/ Bunny family is a magnet for trouble, typically because of their involvement with Farmer McGregor:
    • Peter Rabbit's father was killed by Farmer McGregor while trespassing on his garden (and then baked into a pie by Mrs. McGregor)
    • Peter himself gets in trouble after sneaking into McGregor's garden
    • Peter's cousin Benjamin Bunny encourages him to return to McGregor's garden to retrieve Peter's coat and shoes, but they two wind up trapped there until Benjamin's father comes to their rescue
    • Benjamin Bunny and Flopsy Rabbit eventually marry and have a litter of kits, and their children wind up kidnapped twice (first by Farmer McGregor, and then by Tommy Brock the badger)
  • Fur Is Clothing: Mrs Tiggy-Winkle washes several fur coats.
  • Furries Are Easier to Draw: Potter had admitted humans were hard to draw for her, the reason why there are so many animal characters in her books, yet few humans. In fact, for Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, when she decided to include a major human character, she had to draw many preliminary sketches for Lucie, as well as enlist a real child model.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Not cartoons, but often half dressed.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Jemima Puddleduck lays some eggs in a house built out of "faggots and turf." note 
  • Housewife
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: While this is common in some of her works, this is subverted in The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. It focuses on a female human protagonist, and the other animals aren't actually afraid of her, not even Peter Rabbit, who shows up briefly in the book.
  • Mouse World:
    "For behind the wooden wainscots of all the old houses of Gloucester, there are little mouse staircases and secret trap-doors; and the mice run from house to house through those long narrow passages; they can run all over the town without going into the streets."
  • Nuclear Family
  • Realism
  • Riddle Me This: Squirrel Nutkin pesters Old Brown the owl with his incessant riddles and rhymes.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Her books do acknowledge everybody has understandable motivations.
  • She Also Did:
    • Groundbreaking research on the germination of fungi, establishing methods for cultivating specimens in controlled conditions and resulting in the formal paper proposing a refined theory of their reproductive cycle, On the Germination of the Spores of the Agaricineae. In addition, over her lifetime she produced a vast portfolio of scientific illustrations noted for their detail, accuracy, and realism. Her illustrations of fungi in particular have made her essentially the Audubon of mycology, her work being used to this day for identification of obscure species.
    • She was also a prominent early environmentalist; at her death she donated 14 farms (still in operation today) and over four thousand acres of natural land in England's Lake District to the National Trust.
  • Shown Their Work: Her stories demonstrate keen observation of the appearance and behavior of animals.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very idealistic.
  • Woodland Creatures: Rabbits, squirrels, hedgehogs and mice are among the creatures starring in Potter's books.