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The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, and first published by Frederick Warne & Co. in September 1904. The book is a sequel to The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), and tells of Peter’s return to Mr. McGregor‘s garden with his cousin Benjamin to retrieve the clothes he lost there during his previous adventure. In Benjamin Bunny, Potter deepened the rabbit universe she created in Peter Rabbit, and, in doing so, suggested the rabbit world was parallel to the human world but complete and sufficient unto itself.

In 1903, Potter and her publisher decided her next book should be less complicated than her previous productions, and in Benjamin Bunny she created a simple, didactic tale for young children. The book’s masterful illustrations were based upon the several gardens at the Lake District estate of Fawe Park,where Potter spent the summer of 1903. She was sensitive to the openings and endings of her books, and insisted Benjamin Bunny finish with the words “rabbit-tobacco”, a term she appropriated from the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris, one of her literary heroes.

Benjamin Bunny was an instant commercial and popular success, and thousands of copies were in print by the end of 1904. The Times Literary Supplementthought Potter’s illustrations “pencil perfect”,[1] but suggested that she engage a literary assistant for future productions. Potter created a nursery wallpaper tapping Benjamin’s image, and Benjamin returned as an adult rabbit in the Flopsy Bunnies and Mr. Tod. In 1992, Benjamin Bunny was adapted as an episode of the BBC animated television series, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends.

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