“MANY HAPPY RETURNS!”: PRESENTATION COPY OF THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, INSCRIBED BY BEATRIX POTTER
POTTER, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. London and New York: Frederick Warne, [circa 1939]. 16mo, original tan paper boards, mounted cover illustration. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $9000.
Later edition of Potter’s first book, one of the most popular of all children’s tales, with charming color frontispiece and 26 illustrations, inscribed by her on the recto of the frontispiece, “Elizabeth Anne Byers, Sept. 7th 1939. ‘Many Happy Returns’! Beatrix Potter.”
In 1893, young Beatrix Potter, on holiday with her parents in Scotland, composed a letter to cheer Noel, the child of her former governess, who was suffering from rheumatic fever. "My dear Noel," she began, "I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits, whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter…" The Tale of Peter Rabbit was born. Potter published the first two private editions of Peter Rabbit at her own expense, both editions totaling only 450 copies—which immediately sold. Publisher Frederick Warne agreed to print the first trade edition of Peter Rabbit in 1902. The endpapers in this copy indicate this edition cannot predate circa 1918-19, when they were first used in editions of Johnny Town-Mouse and Timmy Tiptoes (Quinby, plate XV).
Interior and boards lightly soiled. Expert restoration to spine. An extremely good copy.