8 May 2017

The Centenary of Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes

In 2017, we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the first publication of Beatrix Potter’s Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes.

As with other centenary editions, Penguin Random House are celebrating with a beautiful gold limited edition version of the little book, as well as a boxed edition (featuring a beautiful red box, cream little book) limited to 100 copies, and available only through the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, Cumbria.

Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes is one of Beatrix Potter’s shortest works; a collection of just seven rhymes with illustrations. The history of its publication however is a complex one, spanning many decades of Beatrix Potter’s life.

Beatrix had always loved traditional verses and nursery rhymes. In the 1890s had illustrated the rhymes ‘You know the old woman who lived in the shoe?’ and ‘Three Little Mice Sat Down To Spin’ in the form of booklets, although no publisher could be found at the time, and was a great admirer of foremost illustrators such as Randolph Caldecott and Walter Crane, who had both produced successful books with rhymes. This kind of project is significant, and takes time to complete; and was something that Beatrix was working on with Norman Warne, her publisher and fiance, at the time of his death in 1905. The book of rhymes was abandoned.

In 1917, when her publisher Frederick Warne & Co. were in financial difficulties, she suggested that Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes could be brought out quickly, using her existing collections of rhymes and drawings, and the offer was gratefully accepted. This was the first new Beatrix Potter title in four years, featuring seven rhymes with a verse of text opposite each picture. The illustrations were painted over a period of many years, in different styles and sizes, and included an image of Mr. Pricklepin the Hedgehog, which Beatrix described as ‘about the best drawing I have ever made’.

The new little book was an immediate success, with the first printing of 20,000 copies selling out immediately. 100 years later, this beautiful gold centenary edition celebrates 100 years since this delightful book was first published.

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