Posted on May 19, 2023 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

A scholar whose work focuses on trickster figures in the literatures and cultures of Africa wants more focus put on Beatrix Potter's inspiration. 

Specifically, Dr. Emily Zobel Marshall says that while it's perfectly appropriate for the Peter Rabbit author to have been inspired by the Brer Rabbit tales, it would be best for her works to follow the example of fellow British children's author Enid Blyton in acknowledging them as her source.

The Guardian reported on Marshall's call for attention, which was published as an essay for The Conversation.

Stories about Brer Rabbit and other creatures, told by enslaved people in American plantations, were popularized among white readers in the late 19th century by journalist and folklorist Joel Chandler Harris.

Potter owned copies of these books, and Marshall notes that because her family owned cotton mills — which relied on American plantation production, of course — the author would've had earlier knowledge of and access to these stories.

Read more on the Potter-Brer Rabbit connection in the Guardian or at The Conversation.

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