Beatrix Potter could not find a publisher willing to take a chance on her children’s book about a family of rabbits, so she financed the first printing of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” with her own money. On December 16, 1901, she had 250 copies published of the story she had first written and illustrated for a child who was sick. The story was reported by Claire Armistead at the Guardian…
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was printed with 41 black and white woodblock engravings and a colour frontispiece, and proved so successful that, within a year, it had been picked up by one of the six publishers who had originally turned it down. By Christmas of 1902, Frederick Warne had sold 20,000 copies of the book, with Potter’s own watercolour illustrations, at 1 shilling, and 1/6d for a luxury clothbound edition.
But Potter’s self-publishing adventures didn’t stop there. In 1903 she again took her career into her own hands after failing to reach agreement with Warne over her new story The Tailor of Gloucester.
Rare book dealer Christiaan Jonkers says: “She was very dogmatic about what she wanted it to look like and couldn’t agree with Warne. Also he wanted cuts, so she published 500 copies privately. By the end of the year Warne had given in, cementing a relationship that would save the publishing house from bankruptcy, and revolutionise the way children’s books were marketed and sold.”
Potter, who was briefly engaged to one of the Warnes before his premature death, left the rights to her works to the publisher on her death. She thought up the tale of “four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter” in 1893, in a letter to Noel Moore, the sickly son of her old governess.
One of the few surviving copies of the original Peter Rabbit is on sale at Jonkers Rare Books, based in Henley-on-Thames, Oxford, with an asking price of £35,000.
To read the complete article online please go to: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/dec/17/beatrix-potter-peter-rabbit-self-publishing
In today’s high-tech, online world, self-publishing one’s own book is now practically easy enough for everyone who owns a computer to accomplish. But 112 years ago, it was a much more rare occurrence, and for a woman to do it was even more outrageous. This is why bunny lovers all over the world should be grateful to Beatrix Potter, not only for her creativity and her affinity for rabbits, but also for her determination to have her rabbit story circulated for readers to enjoy.