Beatrix Potter is, without a doubt, one of the UK’s most beloved children’s authors.
From mischievous Peter Rabbit, to the kindly Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, to the naïve Jemima Puddleduck, her characters came to life on the page – and are just as relevant today as they ever were before.
Now, however, it seems as if the Potter collection is about to get a little bigger, because there’s a brand-new book on the way.
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was penned over a hundred years ago, but it wasn’t rediscovered until 2015, when archivists at the V&A found the handwritten manuscript hidden inside one of Potter’s old notebooks.
They also found a rough colour sketch of the main character.
Little is known about the tale so far, although the synopsis has revealed that the star of the story is Miss Catherine St Quintin, a “well-behaved black cat, who leads rather a double life”.
The little cat, who refers to herself as Q, often sneaks out to go hunting.
But, on this particular night that her tale takes place, she finds herself in the mother of all scrapes when she runs into "the foxiest hunter of them all - Mr. Tod!”
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She will also come face-to-face with a number of old favourites, including an “older, slower” version of Peter Rabbit, and Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit from the Tale of Samuel Whiskers.
The new book is said to be “utterly entertaining” and told with Potter’s “trademark humour and dry observations” – so why wasn’t it published sooner?
According to letters from the renowned author herself, she had intended to finish the tale properly, but “interruptions” – such as the First World War, marriage, and illness – left her unable to illustrate The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.
Thankfully children’s book illustrator Sir Quentin Blake – best known for his work with Roald Dahl – has created a series of colourful drawings to accompany the story.
Blake, speaking to The Huffington Post, explained: “As I took the manuscript in hand, I could not avoid a momentary thought that the reason it had not been illustrated was - could this possibly be? - that it was not very good.
“That thought had disappeared as soon as I began to read. This was a story full of character, incident and anarchic activity.
“I could not wait to say yes.”
Image: Rex Features