Extract: Rediscovered Beatrix Potter story to be illustrated by Quentin Blake
Just over one hundred years after it was written, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter is set to be released for the first time in September, on the 150th anniversary of Potter's birth.
The discovery was entirely accidental - Jo Hanks, a publisher with Penguin Random House, stumbled across the manuscript in an out-of-print Potter biography. Further research at the V&A Museum unearthed additional manuscripts plus a sketch by Potter of the story's villain, Mr Tod.
Hanks said, ‘The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter. It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales (including Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit). And, most excitingly, our treasured, mischievous Peter Rabbit makes an appearance – albeit older, slower and portlier!’
Hanks continued, "As soon as we began the conversation about finding an illustrator, we knew it had to be Quentin Blake. It’s a challenging brief to illustrate a manuscript written over a hundred years ago by one of the world’s most beloved authors, but we knew that Quentin’s energy, rebelliousness and humour were in keeping with Beatrix’s own artistic sensibilities.”
Of his selection, Quentin Blake said, "It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter; one which had lain unpublished for a hundred years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated. I liked the story immediately – it’s full of incident and mischief and character –and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it. I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me."
The hardback of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be published on September 1st 2016, but we are lucky enough to have a short extract from the never-before seen story below:
Extract: The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots
Once upon a time there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat.
It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cat could compare with Kitty.
She lived in constant fear that Kitty might be stolen — “I hear there is a shocking fashion for black cat-skin muffs; wherever is Kitty gone to? Kitty! Kitty!”
She called it “Kitty”, but Kitty called herself “Miss Catherine St. Quintin”
Cheesebox called her “Q”, and Winkiepeeps called her “Squintums”. They were very common cats. The old lady would have been shocked had she known of the acquaintance.
And she would have been painfully surprised had she ever seen Miss Kitty in a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket, and little fur-lined boots.
Now most cats love the moonlight and staying out at nights; it was curious how willingly Miss Kitty went to bed. And although the wash-house where she slept — locked in — was always very clean, upon some mornings Kitty was let out with a black chin. And on other mornings her tail seemed thicker, and she scratched.
It puzzled me. It was a long time before I guessed there were in fact two black cats!
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is published by Frederick Warne & Co at Penguin Random House Children’s.
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