A lost Beatrix Potter treasure has been discovered by publisher Jo Hanks. Ms Hanks found a reference to The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots in an unedited manuscript of a 1970s biography of the beloved children’s author. A search in the Victoria and Albert Museum archive unearthed three manuscripts handwritten in school notebooks, a rough colour sketch of Kitty-in-Boots and a pencil sketch of villain Mr. Tod.
Quentin Blake will provide the illustrations for the new book, which will be published in September. Beatrix described The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots to her publisher as being about “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life”. It will also feature an appearance from an “older, slower” version of Peter Rabbit.
Quentin Blake said: “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almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter; one which had lain unpublished for 100 years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated.
“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.
“I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is being published by Beatrix’s original publisher Frederick Warne & Co, now an imprint of Penguin Random House. Read an excerpt from the new book below.
Once upon a time there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat.
It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cat could compare with Kitty.
She lived in constant fear that Kitty might be stolen — “I hear there is a shocking fashion for black cat-skin muffs; wherever is Kitty gone to? Kitty! Kitty!”
She called it “Kitty”, but Kitty called herself “Miss Catherine St. Quintin”
Cheesebox called her “Q”, and Winkiepeeps called her “Squintums”. They were very common cats. The old lady would have been shocked had she known of the acquaintance.
And she would have been painfully surprised had she ever seen Miss Kitty in a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket, and little fur-lined boots.
Now most cats love the moonlight and staying out at nights; it was curious how willingly Miss Kitty went to bed. And although the wash-house where she slept — locked in — was always very clean, upon some mornings Kitty was let out with a black chin. And on other mornings her tail seemed thicker, and she scratched.
It puzzled me. It was a long time before I guessed there were in fact two black cats!
Excerpt from Penguin Books UK.