First edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit sells for £43k at auction

Peter Rabbit's Painting Book Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

A first edition of Beatrix Potter’s iconic work, the Tale of Peter Rabbit, has sold at auction for £43,400 – an increase of more than £8,000 on its listed price.

The book was part of a sale of more than 50 items, which included sketches and letters and raised £101,952.

Most of them were amassed by John Cawood from the Lake District, with which Potter had a long association.

Memorabilia is being auctioned to mark 150 years since the author’s birth.

Mr Cawood started his collection in 1972 and set out to achieve a complete set of first editions of Potter’s books.

Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

A pioneering businesswoman

Beatrix Potter did not stop at writing tales that would last for more than a century. In 1903 Peter Rabbit became the first literary character in the world to be licensed and turned into a doll.

It was all the author’s idea too. She went on to invent a Peter Rabbit board game a year later and came up with further spin-offs, such as painting books, featuring her characters.

Beatrix Potter’s legacy is a huge money-spinner for the Lake District, not only from the buildings and land she left to the National Trust but in the thousands of people who visit from all over the world, including Japan, where Peter Rabbit and other characters have acted as mascots for banks.

The Beatrix Potter legacy

100 million

copies of "little books" sold globally



  • 4,000 acres of land, and 15 farms, bequeathed to the National Trust

  • 100,000 visitors a year to Beatrix Potter's former home, Hill Top, Cumbria

  • 15,000 Japanese visitors a year to The World of Beatrix Potter

Getty Images

Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

An illustration for The Story of Miss Moppet featured instructions from the author on how it was to be shrunk to fit the title-page

A first edition of the book also featured in the sale.

A handwritten letter dated February 1924, from Beatrix Heelis – the author’s married name – was estimated to fetch up to £1,200, but sold for £2,700.

Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

Image copyright Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

Clive Moss, an auctioneer at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions in London, said of the sale: “Bids were received briskly from within the auction room, online and on the telephone from a world-wide audience.”

Stamps depicting Beatrix Potter’s creations, such as Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, have also been released to mark her 150th birthday.

Media captionBeatrix Potter fans are celebrating the 150th anniversary of her birth

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