Lost Beatrix Potter Tale to Be Published for the First Time

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Artist Quentin Blake, known for his Roald Dahl illustrations, has done the drawings for ‘The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots,’ about a black cat with a double life. Quentin Blake

A previously unknown story by children's author Beatrix Potter is to be published for the first time in September, more than 100 years after it was written, the BBC reports.

Featuring new illustrations by Quentin Blake, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be published by Frederick Warne & Co, Potter's original publisher, now part of Penguin Random House.

Penguin publisher Jo Hanks learned about the existence of the story in 2014, when she was reading an out-of-print Pottery biography and came across a letter penned by the author to her publisher in 1914 that made reference to an unedited manuscript. According to The Guardian, in the letter Potter wrote about "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life."

Hanks then found three manuscripts in London's Victoria and Albert Museum archive: a single, rough color sketch of Kitty-in-Boots; a pencil sketch of villain Mr. Tod; and a notebook with some of the typeset manuscript laid out.

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Beatrix Potter’s original sketch for ‘The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots’. Frederick Warne & Co/V&A Museum

"The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter," Hanks said in a press release on Tuesday. "It has double identities, colorful villains and a number of favorite characters from other tales (including Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit)." An "older, slower and portlier" Peter Rabbit also makes an appearance.

As Potter—who also did the iconic illustrations for her Peter Rabbit series—had only completed one color sketch for Kitty-in-Boots before she died in 1943, legendary Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake agreed to do the drawings for the new tale.

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Artist and illustrator Quentin Blake says the story is full of “incident and mischief and character.” Quentin Blake

"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almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter; one which had lain unpublished for 100 years," Blake, 83, said in the press release.

"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," he added. "I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me."

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Beatrix Potter at Hill Top, near Sawrey, England, 1913. National Trust

According to the BBC, Potter had intended to finish the story but "interruptions began," such as World War I, her marriage, and her failing health caused by the onset of heart disease.

The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will be published in hardback by Penguin in the U.K., U.S., Canada and Australia in September, near the end of a year that also marks Potter's 150th birthday. You can read an extract of the new tale on the Penguin website.

Lost Beatrix Potter Tale to Be Published for the First Time | Culture
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