My Life in Books: Beatrix Potter

I confess I didn’t read all of Beatrix Potter’s books about the adventures of various cute animals, but they are such an iconic image of childhood universally, I now can’t remember which ones I read I which ones I didn’t.

I have two endearing memories from childhood involving Beatrix Potter’s characters, so it’s appropriate to include them in this series of posts about influential books in my life.

In my first year of infant school, my year did a production of PETER RABBIT. We performed on a real stage – at the local community theatre – with a real audience. I was five years old. I played a flower in Mr McGregor’s garden. My role was to sit cross-legged on stage with a halo of flower petals made out of coloured construction paper affixed to my head. I think I had to wear green, to look like a flower stem. I recall getting to join in some of the songs (it was a musical production).

What I do remember, very clearly, is that it was my first time on stage and I loved every minute of being there. It triggered my love of theatre, and for that reason alone, PETER RABBIT was an influential book in my life.

The second Beatrix Potter-related memory is the fact that this picture of Benjamin Bunny, included with this post, hung on the wall of my bedroom when I was a child.

Later on, when I started getting into the writing more seriously, I took comfort in the fact that Beatrix Potter had PETER RABBIT rejected countless times, and indeed initially went down the self-publishing route, before finding a publisher. And yet, years later, her books are still read and loved by millions. Although, in browsing Amazon to refresh my memory in readiness for this post, I discovered that THE TALE OF BENAJAMIN BUNNY is not universally loved. One reviewer has given it a one-star review on the basis that Benjamin is beaten by his father for misbehaving, and the reviewer feels this is displaying inappropriate violence in a children’s books.

Perhaps this just demonstrates that Beatrix Potter’s books are not as timeless as we are led to believe, after all.


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