London, South Kensington
16 November 2004
POTTER, Beatrix (1866-1943). The Tale of Peter Rabbit, London: Frederick Warne & Co., . 16° (139 x 108mm). Coloured frontispiece and 30 coloured plates after Beatrix Potter. Green morocco with gilt stamped lettering, coloured pictorial label mounted on upper cover, gilt tooled turn-ins, gilt edges, and cream watered silk endleaves (short tear and wear to pictorial label). Provenance: Eileen Brougham (b.1912), grand-daughter of the 3rd Baron Brougham and Vaux of Brougham, Westmoreland, and thence by descent.
UNIQUE SPECIALLY BOUND PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST WARNE EDITION; with an inscription detailing the history of this previously unrecorded binding: 'To "Princess" Eileen on Peace Day Brougham Aug 23, 1919 From the authoress -- with love from Peter Rabbit and "Beatrix Potter". This volume is one of two, which were specially bound. The other copy was presented -- 15 years ago -- to a little Prince -- sometime known as "David".'
At the time of Peace Day, Beatrix Potter was a successful local farmer and landowner living at Castle Farm in Sawrey and was familiar to the Brougham children as a regular tea-time visitor. The Brougham Peace Day formed part of the nationwide celebrations at the end of the First World War which were begun by Lloyd George on the official Peace Day of 19th July 1919. The Brougham village pageant and festivities were led by the seven year-old Eileen Brougham who had been nominated "Princess" for the day.
The 'little Prince -- sometime known as "David"' of the inscription was of course the future Edward VIII (b.1894). Aside from both being recipients of this very special Peter Rabbit, there existed a strong link between the Brougham family and royalty. During Victorian times Brougham Hall had become known as 'the Windsor of the North' and attained a certain fame at the turn of the century as a royal halfway-house between Windsor and Balmoral. It played host to the future King George V on numerous occasions as well as King Edward VII, 'whose sporting interests in Cumbria, it was rumoured, covered a broad range of different quarries'.
The inscription displays Beatrix Potter's characteristic reserve and defensiveness on the subject of her authorship, at its height in the years after she became Mrs William Heelis in 1913. As she wrote of fans and reporters, 'The letters which ask for particulars about "Beatrix Potter" are very perplexing... I object to being supposed to be the wife of Sidney Webb, a member of the late Socialist government. He married a Miss Beatrice Potter -- no relation. There were photographs of him in the newspapers, it said his wife had written children's books.'
The text of this special presentation copy is the first Trade edition with 'wept big tears' on p.51. Linder p.421: '8000 copies'; Quinby 2.
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