And so can you imagine the excitement at Penguin Random House when publisher Jo Hanks accidently stumbled across a manuscript for a never-before-seen story; The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots. After making her discovery 100 years after the tale was written among an out-of-print literary history of Beatrix Potter from the early 1970’s, Jo investigated further at the V&A Museum and uncovered a hoard of exciting material for The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots. As well as the unedited manuscript handwritten in children’s school notebooks, there was a rough colour sketch of Kitty-In-Boots, a dummy book with some of the typeset manuscript laid out and a pencil rough sketch of arch-villain Mr. Tod. Letters from the Beatrix Potter archive suggest that she intended to go back to the story but life’s interruptions always prevented her from picking it up again.
Jo Hanks said of the new story, ‘The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter. It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales (including Mr. Tod, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit). And, most excitingly, our treasured, mischievous Peter Rabbit makes an appearance – albeit older, slower and portlier!’
The blurb describes Kitty-In-Boots as ‘a serious, well-behaved young black cat who leads a daring double life defeating vile villains’. Filled with Beatrix Potter’s dry humour and wry observations, and featuring wonderfully familiar characters, this brand new tale is sure to bring the comforting feel of reading any of Beatrix Potter’s original classics.
The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots is due to be published in hardback on the 1st of September 2016, 150 years after Beatrix Potter’s birth, and will feature illustrations by renowned illustrator Quentin Blake. On being selected to create the illustrations for the 100 year old manuscript, Quentin 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almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter; one which had lain unpublished for a hundred years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated.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.”
Jo Hanks commented, “As soon as we began the conversation about finding an illustrator, we knew it had to be Quentin Blake. It’s a challenging brief to illustrate a manuscript written over a hundred years ago by one of the world’s most beloved authors, but we knew that Quentin’s energy, rebelliousness and humour were in keeping with Beatrix’s own artistic sensibilities and therefore exactly what this fantastic book called out for.”
The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots is available to pre-order in time for September online today, but if you’re like us and can’t wait for a sneak peek at what’s to come then take a look at this short extract from the book below.
The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots
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!