Kitty in boots: The cat’s out of the bag

Kitty in Boots, an unpublished Beatrix Potter tale, has been rediscovered in museum archives. Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House Children’s paved the way to this exciting new discovery. With 2016 marking the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth, Kitty in Boots is set to be an exciting new edition to the much-loved Potter collection. Hanks discovered references to Kitty in Boots in an out-of-production Potter autobiography early in 2015 which contained original letters written from Potter to her publisher referencing the tale. Further investigation revealed that the original manuscript was in storage at the Victoria and Albert Museum archives.

Born into a privileged Kensington family in 1866, it was Potter’s childhood holidays to Scotland and The Lake District that influenced her stories, and later inspired her permanent move to Hill Top Farm in The Lake District. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck are amongst her most well-loved stories. Potter’s love for wildlife and passion for conservation is evident in her writing, and it’s clear that The Lakes held a special place in her heart. To this day, Windermere boasts a Potter museum and tourist attraction, ’The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction,’ which will be reopening to the public in early February.

Potter’s original publishers Frederick Warne and Co have published a short extract of Kitty in Boots online. The tale follows the adventures of a ‘well-behaved young black cat’ leading a double life moonlighting as Miss Catherine St Quintin, otherwise known as Kitty in Boots. Naturally, her elderly lady owner is blissfully unaware of Kitty’s nighttime antics, even remarking on ‘how willingly Miss Kitty went to bed’. With ‘double identities, colourful villains, and a number of favourite characters’ Hanks hails Kitty in Boots as ‘the best of Beatrix Potter’. It seems that Kitty in Boots has all the classic Potter trademarks; humour, wild imagination and mischievous characters. The release of this charming tale in September this year will be greatly anticipated by young and old alike. Hanks even hints that the infamous Peter Rabbit himself makes an appearance!

Another intriguing factor of this new discovery is the absence of illustrations. With the exception of one rough pencil drawing by Potter herself, this story has gone unillustrated, undiscovered and unpublished for over 100 years. It has been suggested that the outbreak of the First World War may have interrupted Potter’s illustration process. Consequently, it has been decided that Quentin Blake illustrate this new book. Blake, famous for his work in in Roald Dahl’s many children’s books, is said to be ‘fascinated’ by the opportunity to illustrate Kitty in Boots. He reportedly ‘liked the story immediately- it’s full of incident and mischief and character’ and he even believes that this unillustrated tale ‘might have been waiting for [him]’.

Frederick Warne and Co are due to publish Kitty in Boots in September 2016 to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.


Isobel Hughes



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