In 1905, Beatrix Potter bought a farm called Hill Top in Near Sawrey, Ambleside in the Lake District. She wrote about the farmhouse to her friend, Millie Warne: "It really is delightful if the rats could be stopped out! …[but] I never saw such a place for hide & seek, & funny cupboards & closets". The rats lived in the panelling and inspired a story, which she called The Roly-Poly Pudding.
Potter often gifted her earlier manuscripts to children, just as she had written some of the stories in her illustrated letters. This manuscript for The Roly-Poly Pudding is inscribed to Winifred Warne, the daughter of Potter's publisher Fruing Warne, and dated December 1906. Unusually there are just three watercolours in this volume, the rest being pen and ink sketches. The illustrations faithfully represent the interiors of the farmhouse which Potter was enjoying restoring at the time, from the range in the 'firehouse' or hall to the staircase and landing. In one illustration, Potter also included a self-portrait of herself at the end of the lane, seeing off the rats as they escape with their belongings piled into her wheelbarrow.
The Roly-Poly Pudding was published in 1907 as a large format edition but in 1926 was made to match the other little books in size and retitled in the UK to become The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding.
Explore the full Roly-Poly Pudding manuscript
Manuscript of The Roly-Poly Pudding, by Beatrix Potter, dated Christmas 1906, ink, sepia pen and ink and watercolour illustrations tipped into a blind-stamped cloth bound Lamley & Co. exercise book. Museum no. Linder Bequest BP.596. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London, courtesy Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.