This best known of all Beatrix
Potter’s beautifully illustrated classic books, is the adventure of Peter
Rabbit, an extremely greedy rabbit, who will not do what his mother tells
him. He knows that his father went into Mr McGregor’s garden and
ended up in a pie, and you would think that would be enough to make
him think carefully, but no, as soon as his mother’s back is turned, off
he goes into the McGregor’s garden, and from the illustrations we can
see that it is a garden brimming with the tastiest, sweetest, most
delicious vegetables for Peter to gorge himself on, and gorge he does.
The feast doesn’t last long, for Mr McGregor spots him and chases him.
Peter loses his shoes and his new blue jacket, and gets caught in a
gooseberry net. In despair, Peter believes he too is for the pie, but some
friendly sparrows beg him try again. He wriggles free – just in time for
Mr McGregor nearly corners him under a sieve.
There’s yet another chase, this time in and out of the potting shed, and
Mr McGregor, who clearly has work to do to keep that garden in such
wonderful condition for greedy rabbits, gives up the chase.
By this time Peter doesn’t know his way out. A garden door is shut with
no way underneath for a plump rabbit to squeeze out. He doesn’t know
where the gate is and wanders around miserably, being very careful to
avoid the cat – he knows all about cats from Benjamin Bunny.
help that at one point ended up in a can full of water and he is still
drenched through. He climbs onto a wheelbarrow, and sees the gate
beyond Mr McGregor and that cat.
Fortunately the cat is watching fish in the pond, and though Peter goes
very carefully and slowly at first, Mr McGregor spots him. Peter darts off
to the gate, his chest bursting, and at last, gasping and happy, he slides
under the gate and doesn’t stop running until he gets home.
That evening Peter is very unwell and his mother makes him drink
camomile tea. As for Mr McGregor, he hung up the blue coat and the
shoes to scare the birds. To find out what happened to the cat, you need
to read The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902 and by 1903 had
sold some 50,000 copies, providing Peter’s creator with an income, and
assisting her to create a base in the Cumbrian Lakelands. Hill Top Farm
in Sawrey which Beatrix Potter purchased in 1905 can still be visited. It is
now owned by The National Trust and is kept as she left it.