Love Peter Rabbit? Hop Along To The V&A's New Beatrix Potter Exhibition

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 28 months ago

Last Updated 14 January 2022

Love Peter Rabbit? Hop Along To The V&A's New Beatrix Potter Exhibition
A mohair, felt and glass soft toy of 'Jemima Puddle Duck', made by J K Farnell & Co Ltd, England, ca. 1925. Courtesy of Frederick Warne & Co.

A family-friendly exhibition dedicated to children's writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter opens at the V&A Museum in February.

The show — curated in collaboration with the National Trust — focuses on the lesser-known side of Potter's life; her work as a conservationist and scientist. This knowledge inspired her beloved animal tales, featuring favourites such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck.

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, Peter with handkerchief by Beatrix Potter, 1904. Watercolour and pencil on paper. © National Trust Images.

You'll have the chance to see some of Potter's artworks of landscapes in the Lake District and North Wales, including a sketch of a garden in Denbighshire which later became the fictional home of the Flopsy bunnies. Early sketches of Potter's characters, such as hedgehog Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, are also on show, alongside Potter's more scientific sketches of creatures such as ground beetles.

Garden at Gwaynynog Hall, Denbighshire (later home of the Flopsy Bunnies), probably March 1909. Watercolour and pencil on paper, given by the Linder Collection. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.

Photos of Potter show her lifelong interest in animals — she can be seen aged 15 cradling her dog Spot, in a photo taken by her father Rupert. Another photo shows a 66-year old Beatrix Heelis (as she later became), alongside Tom Storey, who managed her Lake District farm, and a one of their prize-winning ewes at a country show in 1930.

Tom Storey and Beatrix Heelis with prize-winning ewe named ‘Water Lily’, at the Eskdale Show, 26 September 1930. Photographic print, published by the British Photo Press. © National Trust Images.

Though the renowned author and illustrator is more commonly associated with the Lake District, she does have ties to London; she was born in Kensington, a 20-minute walk from the V&A, and some of her character names were inspired by Brompton Cemetery.

Mrs Rabbit pouring tea for Peter while her children look on: variant illustration for The tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, 1902. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, courtesy Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.

This is the latest in a series of V&A exhibitions focusing on beloved characters from children's literature, such as Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature opens at V&A Museum on 12 February 2022. Tickets £14, advance booking recommended. The V&A's Fabergé exhibition is still open until May 2022.

If your kids are Peter Rabbit fans, treat them to a day at this Peter Rabbit-themed farm near London. There's also a Peter Rabbit afternoon tea at The Dilly hotel (which we reviewed in April 2019, before the hotel was rebranded).