A century-old Beatrix Potter tale will be released later this year, after manuscripts describing a black cat, “who leads a daring double life,” was found amid memorabilia belonging to the British children’s author.
Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks said she found three manuscripts for “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” and a single, colored drawing of the title character in the archives of London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013.
The publisher said her search and eventual discovery was prompted by a reference of the black cat in a 1970’s, out-of-print biography of Potter, Hanks told The Bookseller.
The book will be published as a hardback by Frederick Warne and Co. in September 2016, and features an “older, slower and portlier” version of Peter Rabbit, Potter’s most popular creation, among other familiar characters, Hanks said. The book’s launch coincides with the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.
Hanks added that the story, which was written in 1914, only needed “light editing.”
“Beatrix Potter obviously meant to finish the story, but things like World War I, getting married and her desire to start running a farm got in the way,” she told The Bookseller.
In an excerpt of the book, provided by BBC, the “serious, well-behaved” cat calls herself “Miss Catherine St. Quintin” and wears a “gentleman’s Norfolk jacket and little fur-lined boots.”
“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, who has worked on many Roald Dahl’s children’s books. Although Blake’s illustrations would be a departure from the style of Potter’s original books, Hanks said Blake “understands the rebelliousness of animal characters and doesn’t patronize children, which was one of Potter’s bugbears.”
Blake told BBC that he liked the newly discovered 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,” Blake said.
“I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me,” he said.