I haven’t picked a children’s book to read or talk about for a while now. Since I have been mostly rereading books lately, my children’s book pick this time is a reread as well, and I chose this short charming Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. Published in 1905, this the sixth (seventh according to Wikipedia) of her twenty three (twenty four) stories of various animals. This is a very sweet little tale and as I have written once before (here), is one of the few I have read (I haven’t read them all, yet) in which none of the characters is spanked or eaten (or nearly eaten) or had their tails yanked off or any such (though many of these make an appearance or are mentioned).

Littletown via Wikimedia Commons
Mick Knapton / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

The story open with a little girl Lucie who lives in Little-town and has lost ‘three pocket handkins and a pinny’. Looking for these she goes about asking first the kitten, then Sally Henny-Penny and the cock robin, finally finding herself walking away from town where she finds a trail of small foot-marks. Following these, she eventually finds herself in a very tiny house, spick and span, where she meets a little washerwoman, in a print gown and apron, a striped petticoat, and prickles in place of golden curls, who introduces herself as ‘an excellent clear-starcher’. The little washerwoman’s black nose goes ‘sniffle sniffle snuffle’ and eyes ‘twinkle twinkle’. Lucie mentions the things she’s lost and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle begins to go through her laundry, the various different items that she has in her basket, and finally locates Lucie’s things while alongside also doing some ironing.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Iron by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

In the laundry are some rather fun things, from the tabby kitten’s mittens which she ‘washes … herself’ but sends down for ironing to some lambs’ woolly coats to Mrs Rabbit’s handkerchief to things that other Potter characters we know and love have sent in–like Peter Rabbit’s blue jacket and Squirrel Nutkin’s red tail coat, minus the tail (yanked off, just like his tail, one imagines). Reading these descriptions is just so sweet and delightful!

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Washing by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

Little Lucie then joins Mrs Tiggy-Winkle for a cup of tea before walking back with her to deliver the clean laundry, and once only Lucie’s bundle is left and handed over, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle seems to run away, and something rather strange happens. Was Mrs Tiggy-Winkle real, or merely Lucie’s dream?

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle with her Basket by Beatrix Potter
via Wikimedia Commons

This is a delightful and pleasant tale that brings a smile to one’s face. Perhaps it is set in a time long past, but still the reader can happily walk along with little Lucie tracing her small lost things and spend a little time watching the tiny washer-hedgehog as she goes about her business washing, ironing, and handing back the little items of laundry, tied in neat bundles. With Potter’s gorgeous illustrations, imagining them isn’t too hard either. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and the other animals that is. Lucie on the other hand, is seen as an ‘artistic failure’ which is explained by Porter’s difficulty in illustrating people (again from Wikipedia: here).

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle was apparently inspired by Potter’s own hedgehog of the name name and the Scottish washerwoman, Kitty MacDonald who worked for their family, while Lucie is based on little Lucie Carr one of the daughters of the vicar at Lingholm where Potter went on holiday (here)! This isn’t one of the Potter tales I read as a child. In fact I first read it only well into college, but it is one I love very much, all the same.

Have you read Mrs Tiggy-Winkle? Is she among the Potter characters you like? Which others are your favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts!

10 thoughts on “Children’s Book of the Month: The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle by #BeatrixPotter

  1. I was never into Potter though of the few I’ve read as an adult I particularly liked the ones that quoted bits of folklore and rhymes. And the paintings are delightful, it goes without saying. In her old age she was a bit grumpy as Diana Wynne Jones, who was evacuated to the Lake District during the war, recounted in an incident involving swinging on a gate. But then children’s authors are always not as child-oriented as one might expect! 🙂

    There is a sort of museum in Gloucester inspired by The Tailor of Gloucester which we visited last year and found quite charming and which I ought to write about some time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Potter I think was animal oriented that child oriented. Have you seen the film version of her life, by the way? It was quite good, though I can’t comment on how true to her life it was since I haven’t read any bios so far. Her stories are good fun but what really attracts me to her books (more so now) are the gorgeous illustrations.

      Liked by 1 person

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