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GingerAndPicklesCentenary

Front cover of a 2009 edition of The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.

The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (first published as Ginger and Pickles) is a children's fantasy story by the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It was originally written as a Christmas present for Louie Warne, the daughter of Potter's publisher Harold Warne. It was first published in a revised form in October 1909. Ginger and Pickles was originally published in a larger format than was usual for Beatrix Potter's children's books, which permitted Potter to create more detailed illustrations than was usual.

The two title characters are a cat and a dog who run a general store. They offer their customers unlimited credit. As a result, they have a lot of customers but no money because none of their customers ever pay their bills.

Some characters from Potter's earlier children's books are referred to by name in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. Several others, including Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Mr. Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, appear in the illustrations.

The story was partially inspired by a village shop in Sawrey, Cumbria, near to Beatrix Potter's home. The shop was owned by a former blacksmith named John Taylor who had to spend three years in bed due to illness. John Taylor had long wanted to pose as a model for one of Potter's illustrations but his illness made that impossible. Taylor jokingly commented that the amount of time that he had spent in bed meant that he could pass for a sleepy dormouse. The Tale of Ginger and Pickles is dedicated to John Taylor and he appears in the story in a fictionalized form as John Dormouse. John Taylor died before the book was published.

A play based on The Tale of Ginger and Pickles was co-written by Beatrix Potter and E. Harcourt Williams in 1931. A fifteen-minute British radio play based on The Tale of Ginger and Pickles first aired on BBC Radio 4 on December 27, 2013 as part of the mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter.[1]

Plot

Ginger and Pickles store

Original illustration by Beatrix Potter. Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Samuel Whiskers and Mr. Jeremy Fisher appear as customers in Ginger and Pickles' shop.

Ginger the yellow tomcat and Pickles the terrier run a small shop that sells almost everything. Their customers include dolls,[2] mice, rats and rabbits. Many of the small animals who patronize the shop are afraid of Ginger and Pickles. Ginger finds it almost impossible to resist the temptation to eat the mice that come into his shop. For that reason, Pickles always has to serves the mice. Pickles finds it hard to resist the temptation to eat his rat customers. Ginger and Pickles control their natural urges because they do not want to lose any customers. They are also worried that their customers might leave them and go to the only other general store in the village, the one owned by the cat Tabitha Twitchit.[3]

There are always more customers at Ginger and Pickles' shop than there are at Tabitha Twitchit's because, unlike Tabitha Twitchit who insists on being paid in cash, Ginger and Pickles offer their customers unlimited credit. Although they always make a note of how much each customer owes, none of Ginger and Pickles' customers ever pay them back. Before long, Ginger and Pickles find that they have no money and have no choice but to begin eating their own stock, which soon becomes depleted.

Pickles does not have enough money to buy a dog license for himself and begins to live in fear of the police. He is even frightened by dolls which look like policemen.

The Tale of Ginger and Pickles first edition cover

Front cover of a first edition of Ginger and Pickles from 1909.

Ginger and Pickles send out bills to all of their customers. They notice that the rat Samuel Whiskers[4] has run up a particularly large bill, although Ginger does not believe that he ever intends to pay it.

When Ginger and Pickles receive a bill for taxes that they cannot pay, they realize that they have no choice but to close their shop. Pickles now works as a gamekeeper. Ginger now lives in a rabbit warren. His occupation is unknown but he is beginning to grow fat.

After Ginger and Pickles' shop closes, Tabitha Twitchit immediately raises all of her prices and still refuses to give credit. John Dormouse and his daughter open a shop that sells peppermints and candles. The candles that they sell are, however, of very poor quality. Miss Dormouse refuses to give refunds and John Dormouse does not get out of bed when customers come to complain to him.

Everyone in the village is relieved when Sally Henny Penny[5] reopens the shop that used to belong to Ginger and Pickles. Sally Henny Penny insists on being paid in cash and sometimes has difficulty counting out the change. Her shop is popular, however, because none of her customers are afraid of her and she has a wide variety of items on sale.

Footnotes

  1. Other episodes of the BBC radio mini-series The Tales of Beatrix Potter are based on The Tale of Pigling Bland, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Mr. Tod.
  2. Lucinda and Jane, the two doll characters from Beatrix Potter's 1904 book The Tale of Two Bad Mice, are said to do all their shopping at Ginger and Pickles' store.
  3. The cat character Tabitha Twitchit also appears in The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905), The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907) and The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908). She is also referred to in The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (written in 1914 but not published until 2016).
  4. The rat character Samuel Whiskers also appears in The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908)
  5. Sally Henny Penny appears in Beatrix Potter's 1905 book The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, in which her name is spelled "Sally Henny-penny". She is referred to in Potter's 1907 book The Tale of Tom Kitten.

External links

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