We’re so thankful Beatrix Potter didn't take no for an answer.
With original copies now valued at upwards of $100,000, we were surprised to learn that when Potter wrote the book 116 years ago, her family thought very little of it. As Dallas Public Library curator Jonathan Carr recently told NBC DFW, "Her father kind of supported her but her mother thought it was ridiculous that she was writing books, she lived at home.”
He went on to explain how Potter came up with the story in a series of letters she wrote to a friend’s five-year-old son. In fact, some of the illustrations from her original letters are almost identical to what ended up in the book. But she was so picky about how the book looked that when she tried to sell it, nobody would buy it.
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Carr said that Potter insisted on printing in black and white so her story remained affordable. She also wanted thick pages, so kids could easily turn them, and she was adamant that the book be “small enough to fit in a child’s hands.” In the end, in order to get it published, Potter ended up paying for it out of her own pocket.
"She printed 250 copies, gave some to friends, but the rest immediately sold out to the point where then, right after that, she immediately published another 200," said Carr. "That immediately sold out and that caught the attention of publishers."
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was recently introduced to a brand new generation when it become a major motion picture and Potter's story has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling books of all time.