Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Favorite Literary Bunny...

The Easter Bunny has been up to a bit of mischief today... he's hidden all the hard boiled eggs! He can bribe us with all that chocolate we find in that cellophane wrapped basket, but we better find those eggs!

Even though he's not an Easter bunny, one of literature's favorite bunny's is Peter Rabbit. The first Peter Rabbit book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was originally written by Beatrix Potter in 1893 as a gift to a little boy she knew who had been ill for a very long time. She went on to self-publish 200 copies of the tale that quickly sold and was finally convinced in 1902 to have the publishing house Frederick Warne & Co. publish her work. They initially printed 8000 copies! And happily the book has never been out of print since. Over the next 28 years Ms. Potter wrote and published 22 more Peter Rabbit tales, so for over 100 years Peter and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail have been entertaining children of all ages.

But Beatrix Potter was more than a children's book author & illustrator. At an early age she began to draw the plants and animals around her. Her family spent Holidays in Scotland and The Lake District, a rural area in North West England, where she began to paint the flora and fauna she closely observed. Her Uncle tried to get her admitted as a student to the Royal Botanic Gardens, a botanical research and education institute, but because she was female she was rejected. She persisted in her own studies and became widely respected thru out England as an expert mycologist (one who studies fungi). Her technical papers were never published because of her gender, but in 1997 the Linnean Society (the premier organization for the study of natural history) issued an official apology to Potter for the way she was treated.

Easter is so much more than the Easter Bunny, and for children all over the world there are all kinds of traditions that they enjoy... Peter Rabbit isn't really one of them... but he is an all time favorite literary bunny!

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