The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse is a picture book for young children by the English author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It was first published in July 1910.
The character of Mrs. Tittlemouse was introduced in the 1909 book The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. In her own story, Mrs. Tittlemouse is revealed to be a very tidy wood mouse. Her determination to keep her house clean is put to the test by some untidy uninvited guests.
The story was first presented by Beatrix Potter as a hand-made gift book to Nellie Warne, the youngest daughter of her publisher Harold Warne. At Warne's insistence, Potter replaced some of the creatures encountered by Mrs. Tittlemouse for the published version: an earwig was changed to a beetle, woodlice became the "creepy-crawly people", and a butterfly was substituted for a centipede named Maggie Manylegs. The insects and the spider are notably not humanized but drawn from nature in Potter's illustrations.
The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse has been translated into many languages. The story was adapted in combination with The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies as the second episode of the animated BBC television series The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends. The episode first aired in the United Kingdom on June 24, 1992.
A wood mouse named Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse lives in a bank under a hedge. There are long passages among the roots of the hedge that connect her living quarters with many storerooms. Mrs. Tittlemouse is very tidy. She is always cleaning her house. She chases out any creatures that get into her clean house.
One day, on her way to a distant storeroom to fetch her dinner, Mrs. Tittlemouse meets Babbitty Bumble in the passageway. She follows the bumblebee into the acorn storeroom. The room, which should have been empty because Mrs. Tittlemouse ate all the acorns before Christmas, is found to be full of dry moss. Mrs. Tittlemouse begins to pull out the moss and finds a few more bees nesting inside. She is very upset to find the intruders and is determined to have them turned out as soon as she can get someone to help her.
Returning to the parlor, Mrs. Tittlemouse finds her neighbor Mr. Jackson sitting in the rocking chair with his feet on the fender. Mr. Jackson is a toad who lives in the dirty ditch below the hedge. He is very wet and dripping all over. Mrs. Tittlemouse goes around with a mop to wipe the floor. Mr. Jackson sits there drying himself for so long that Mrs. Tittlemouse is forced to invite him to stay for dinner.
Mr. Jackson cannot eat the cherry stones or the thistledown seeds, so he asks for a dish of honey. Mrs. Tittlemouse tells him she does not have any, but Mr. Jackson can smell the honey. He gets up to look for it. Mrs. Tittlemouse follows him around with a dish cloth wiping off his wet footmarks. Finding no honey in the cupboards, Mr. Jackson goes into the pantry. He finds some "creepy-crawly people" hiding in the plate rack but no honey. In the larder, he only finds Miss Butterfly in the sugar. Mrs. Tittlemouse is distressed to find so many uninvited guests in her house.
Mr. Jackson goes down the passage and meets Babbity Bumble. Mr. Jackson says he does not like bumblebees and, to Mrs. Tittlemouse's dismay, Babbity calls him a "nasty old toad." Mrs. Tittlemouse shuts herself up in the nut cellar while Mr. Jackson pulls out the bees nest. By the time she ventures out, everyone has gone away leaving a terrible mess behind. Distraught, Mrs. Tittlemouse fetches some twigs and partially blocks up the front door to make it too small for Mr. Jackson. Too tired to begin cleaning, she goes to bed wondering "Will it ever be tidy again?"
Mrs. Tittlemouse gets up early the following morning and begins a through spring cleaning. A fortnight later, her house is all neat and clean again. She invites five of her mouse friends over for a party. Mr. Jackson smells the party and comes by, but he cannot get through the door. They hand him acorn-cups of honeydew through the window, and Mr. Jackson toasts, "Your very good health, Mrs. Tittlemouse!"